AIIB to help West grasp China's ideals

Updated: 2015-04-07 07:28

By Yang Guangbin(China Daily USA)

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is proving to be an international relations milestone. It is also helping rewrite the mechanism of change in the world order.

The form and reform of the modern world order have not been able to remove the Thucydides Trap: hegemonic powers suppressing opponents and the opponents challenging the dominant status of the hegemonic powers, eventually leading to war. And the wars have resulted in the collapse and recombination of the then existing world order. The Westphalian, Vienna and United Nations systems, as well as the US hegemony, all have been formed by typical mutations of systems that resulted in a new combination after the destruction of the then prevailing orders, which ultimately led to the so-called world order that exists today following the West-centric recombination.

It is the mechanism of this world order that the AIIB is helping rewrite.

First, the China-led AIIB is an emerging force that comes from, respects and maintains the existing world order. Over the past three centuries, all the world orders have been the products of war, following the principle of "might is right". The rise of China is quite different from the way Westerners have been used to seeing the world. In this context, the AIIB can be regarded as one of the fruits of China's "peaceful rise".

Second, the establishment of the AIIB is the first international relations reform led by Asians. In modern times, some Asian countries such as Japan have attempted to participate and even play a prominent role in the world order. But they have followed the Western way of using wars to change the world order and ended up in failure. As such, Asian countries have never played a leading role in building a world order.

Contrary to popular belief, even the Asian Development Bank is not dominated by Japan, for the United States has been playing a manipulating role from the shadows. No wonder, the Republic of Korea said the AIIB is the first global financial institution that it has joined as a major founding member. What the ROK has said represents the dream of most Asian countries, including China.

Third, the AIIB has not been established on the basis of any ideology. Since the establishment of Vienna system, the West has been demonstrating cultural and regional prejudice against other regions. Terms such as Orientalism, the Asiatic mode of production and Oriental despotism are biased concepts, and the Cold War was a typical ideological war. Over the past century, the West has established a culturally biased world order. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and even the ADB have provided funds and aid to countries on the basis of ideology. As a result, many developing countries have undergone change, but not for the better.

In contrast, the AIIB will provide funds and aid for development needs and to help build "a community of common destiny". China regards the AIIB as being complementary to the existing global financial system, and any valid reason the US sees it as a threat.

AIIB to help West grasp China's ideals

Fourth, the change that the AIIB is expected to bring about will be progressive. The influence of the bank on the financial world too will be different, for it will not have a severe impact on the existing global financial norms.

China has always written its own history and contributed to the world in its own way. From the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence of the Mao Zedong era to the Peace and Development Principle propounded by Deng Xiaoping for the reform and opening-up to the current principle of "a community of common destiny" advanced by President Xi Jinping and represented by the AIIB, the consistent core of China's policy has been peaceful coexistence. This unchangeable pursuit is supported by China's culture of harmony. And the AIIB reflects China's people-oriented world view.

The Chinese people know the Western rules of the game. But it is perhaps a bit difficult for the West, given their cultural bias, to understand Chinese people's civilizational norms. Through its long-term effective operation of global organizations, the AIIB can help achieve the goal of making the West do so.

The author is a professor of political studies with Renmin University of China.

(China Daily USA 04/07/2015 page12)