U.S. and China: brothers forever?

16:54 04.02.2010 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

The "Passionarity theory of ethnicity" has some flaws when we begin to apply it to modern life. The presence of the "heroic layer," ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of historical purpose, is not a necessary attribute today of a passionist civilization, nation, or ethnic group.


Neither the United States nor China, who are the most passionarist members of the international process do not themselves represent anything heroic, except, perhaps, the possibility to challenge the "mainstream" of Obama. The circumstance that a year ago caused delight in Americans yearning for a political hero. Otherwise, we are dealing with the passionarity of an anthill, the hyperactivity in which, let aside excess production, there is nothing heroic. In fact, what can be heroic about an anthill?


By the way, if in respect of the United States one can apply the thesis of the "youth of the nation", which determines its dynamic potential, one can’t say this about the ancient Tianxia. Gumilev will remain a great scientist, and epic researcher, but let us also turn to newer history.


It is only in textbooks that the fates of nations are determined by the actions of governments and the bureaucratic machinery. The historic goal to a greater or lesser success of the nation and the people tends to be determined by something else, which can be described the very vague notion of "a perfect picture of yourself."


Imagine: a mirror before your eyes, where you almost do not recognize yourself, and just guess at the traits of your own face, "Try to remember" them as your perfect "I", which consciously or unconsciously you sought  to bring to inner consciousness. According to Plato, and the later Christian doctrine of Consistency of the created world, all things and phenomena, animate or inanimate, were preceded by the idea of "Eidos" (Theory of Forms). With regard to this topic it is expressed in the most vivid form, as I recall by V. Soloviev, who said that the people are not what they think of themselves at the time, but what God thinks of them in eternity. In search of their Consistency, and longing for it, as for a certain ideal, "the nation thrashes about," often straying from the path, and "imagining a vain thing."


Actually in these quests are contained an energy and all the vicissitudes of notorious identity. You could even say so: passionarity today is determined by how much a part of this or that civilization, nations involved in this quest, and not so much on the level of discussion (Russian version, partly European), but rather on the level of action (the American and Chinese version).


But let us return to the United States and China. The first thing that catches the eye is the very sharp and very similar feature that both the American and Chinese civilizations claim to universalism. By the way, this is not a mandatory feature of the greatness of civilization, but it is the internal driving force for both the U.S. and China. The U.S. has its clearly expressed and declared messianism, in the face of China more latency is welcomed, it is a more hidden, but a more focused and unyielding spirit of messianism. Let us not forget that many times China has challenged the more powerful Soviet Union from a position of support for "clean", "non revisionist" communism, and missionary activity, which supported by the "new economy" continues to focus on developing the whole so-called "third world".


Sinologists say that the Americans and Chinese together practice pragmatism, and they both love to count and calculate, generally to plan, only the Chinese have traditionally made long-term calculations, and their relationship to the future is how we had it in the past, in ancient times.


The modern financial and economic crisis has revealed the new role of China. Its powerful and growing potential can affect the well-being or even trouble such a powerful superpower as the United States. The immune system of the world economy was largely dependent on how the Celestial Empire disposed of its dollar reserves and the Yuan exchange rate.


According to some reports, China has purchased 12 thousand complete modern factory plants from abroad, investing their foreign exchange reserves in them. The new infrastructure will be provided with Chinese raw materials, goods and personnel. In 1980 China's GDP was about 40% of the Soviet Union, but by 2005, Russia's GDP was 17.9% of the Chinese.


The fall in world oil prices has provided China an opportunity to replenish its oil reserves, which had run down in recent years. In turn, foreign exchange reserves have allowed Chinese companies, through an elaborate credit policy, to gain access to foreign sources of oil and gas from Russia, Brazil, Venezuela and Kazakhstan.


The new role of China has provoked the birth of the term "Chimerica." Despite all the hypothetical nature of the close alliance between the U.S. and China, it is necessary to recognize that, if implemented, neither Russia nor Europe will be able to prevent it. Yet it is the differences among civilizations and to an even greater degree of similarity (a high level of ambition) that makes such an alliance unlikely. However, what is more important than the question itself is the very possibility of talks between China and the United States on an equal footing.


China is our neighbor. All the processes that are taking place in China must be placed under the closest of our attention. Especially because China is more fixedly gazing towards Russia. A program of Russian language study has been introduced in high schools in the northern regions of China, and the high schools annually produce up to 100 thousand specialists in Russia. It is time to ask the question, is it enough for us in the present circumstances to have only one academic institution in the Far East? Is it time to open a Chinese Institute in Moscow or St. Petersburg, and significantly increase the number of students of the Chinese language?


The Russian mentality has developed an ambivalent attitude towards China and the so-called "Chinese threat", which has its roots in history. In this regard, the notable controversy between Prince S. Trubetskoy and A. Suvorin who’s "Little Letters" in the newspaper "New time" were read all across Russia.


In 1900 Suvorin used his talent as a publicist, urging Russia not to participate in the partition of China, which, according to prince Trubetskoy was the only way to "eliminate a future" Mongol yoke "over Europe and Russia." "The task is not easy,” wrote Trubetskoy in the St. Petersburg Gazette, "but our future depends on its solution and no sacrifice could stop us." Suvorin replied, "China will not give in easily to being partitioned, and we'll have to fight them for ourselves and especially for Europe, who will take the best part for themselves, the central and southern regions of China, and they will exploit them for their own profit. We will end up taking a very active and very unprofitable role in this European concert ... Let China believe that it has won a victory, even if it encourages the yellow race, which imagines that it is invincible, as we have the means to show China that she is mistaken if we stay true to our limits. "


Suvorin’s opinions on China are that, "they are developing their culture gradually and intelligently, getting rid of European exploitation of their strengths, and their industry and trade will remain in Asia." "Why do we have to assume,” inquired Suvorin, “that very soon the yellow race is about to wake up in the spirit of Genghis Khan, the spirit of the 13th century, and destroy Europe? For us, anyway, it is a hundred times more useful to live in peace with this race, even helping it and not to go out to exterminate it ...”


The results of the Russian-Japanese War and the subsequent development of China confirmed Suvorin’s assumptions. "To live in peace, and even to help," this is the credo of modern Russian diplomacy and an important factor in stabilizing the situation in the world. As permanent members of the UN Security Council both countries cooperate closely on some issues, avoiding isolation and China is increasingly dependent on Russian support.


However it is true to say that inside China, there are other opinions, and views on the future relations between the two countries. "Friendship between two states is never indestructible,” says the Chinese newspaper" Nanfang Dushi Bao. “Just look at the Soviet-Chinese relations. Barely 10 years after the "honeymoon period" of Sino-Soviet friendship, Mao Zedong called on preparations for war with his neighbor. In reality, the delicate balance is very easy to break, the contracting force of government contracts is not so strong, and there exists the danger of collisions in the strategic interests of Russia and China. "In other words: "Never say" never.”


"Chimerica" and any rapprochement between China and America do not have to worry Russia much. This is a fact which must be clearly taken on board, as also Europe will resist such convergence, and China will have to abandon their ambition to be the leader of the "third world." Russia must worry about something else, and far more than America and Europe. We need to admit that we do not know China very well, and even worse, taking the modern dynamics of China's development as a given, born because of external factors and the obvious administrative and economic order. The real factors of the development of China do not lie in the plane of the administration and the economy, and not even in the plane of the modern ideology of China, but in its civilization in the world, the spirit of its culture, its "Eidos".


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