4/2019

 

The FOURTH issue of Atlantis in 2019 (WINTER), dedicates the Dossier to the Chinese theme with Letter from Ambassador Alessandro Quaroni through the prestigious collaboration with the Circle of Diplomatic Studies in Rome,
The appointment with the great historical events of the years ending in nine with the 150 years since the death of Carlo Cattaneo continues
In this issue, the section on World and Diseases with road accident accidents continues.
The country focus, signed by Domenico Letizia, is dedicated to Libya.
In Venice the beautiful book of the journalist Eleonora Lorusso on Nave Vespucci.

The Danger of Indifference

Editorial

 The illiiberal right is on the rise everywhere in Europe. Electoral successes that increasingly put the center parties in difficulty, participate in the government of regions and states of the continent, for the first time since 1945 there is on the continent a great reactionary power which is a point of reference for the whole illliberal right . It is Putin’s Russia, which does not hide its hegemonic designs at the expense of the rest of Europe. Main purpose weakening the democratic alignment and affirming its dominance in Europe: in this favored by the contemporary (temporary) withdrawal of the United States, which until recently constituted instead the point of reference for the liberal-democratic alignment.

Nationalism is the heart of the idea of ​​the illiberal right. As Galli della Loggia claims, “it is nationalism, not fascism, its true horizon. Nationalism is the “gathering point of anger” - with which the right animates its propaganda and its influence in public opinion. It is a nationalism, however, that has completely lost the central character that was its in the history of the twentieth century, and which essentially consisted of expansionism, aggressive competition in the field of foreign policy. It is a new nationalism, so to speak: all introverted and defensive as the other, instead, was everted and offensive “. This is what Della Loggia thinks and continues: “The heart of current nationalism, in short, is constituted in every sense by a polemical position, mostly adopted by the disadvantaged strata of society, against the new, against modernity. And then we understand the root of the difficulty that the left has to come to terms with. Forget about the Manifesto of Marx and Engels, the left, in fact, in the course of its long history has increasingly strengthened itself in the idea that opposing the new, the path of history (always infallibly positive) could only be great interests , the ruling classes, by definition conservative, never the lower classes. And that therefore their place could only be always on the other side, in favor of every innovation, however in the ranks of modernity. A wrong calculation that risks being fatal. “ So left and right, they both end up opposing the liberal and democratic vision, precisely in a world in an extreme situation of disorder. And it is precisely from the world disorder that it is appropriate to resume the above discussion. Russia and China are both taking advantage of the Trump administration to stretch their hands and tighten their grip on everything possible: the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and, of course, Europe (see the far-sighted intervention of our dossier on the true intentions of China with its Via della Seta project).

Dal nostro osservatorio globale di Atlantis (ma è anche il nome della collana che realizziamo con il Circolo di Studi Diplomatici di Roma) non possiamo che inquadrare il nostro pericolo autocratico illiberale in senso ampio. Perché, se da una parte, è vero che la promessa liberal-democratica non sta mantenendo in parte dell’Europa la sua promessa di benessere diffuso, continua a garantire però tutte le garanzie di libertà degli stati di diritto costituzionali (non a chiacchiere come la Russia).

L’esempio della lotta dei giovani di Honk Kong contro il previsto inglobamento nello Stato Comunista cinese è eclatante. Ancora una volta, da una parte una visione westfaliana e dall’altra una visione wilsoniana. Non possiamo credere che in virtù di un trattato siano calpestati i futuri diritti e libertà della popolazione seppure di una piccola Città Stato.

Non si può cedere all’indifferenza davanti all’evidente fine dei Diritti individuali di cittadini e persone che diventeranno sudditi del Comunismo cinese e del suo autocrate XI JINPING. Cosa stanno facendo i nostri eroici giovani? Sono forse succubi dei tabù paterni e materni secondo i quali si scende in piazza contro gli americani ma si resta intruppati tra i banchi se si tratta di comunismo?

Bene ha detto Giulio Terzi di sant’Agata nel suo intervento all’Ufficio di Venezia del Consiglio d’Europa, invitato dalla nostra rivista, quando ha sottolineato che l’Occidente non deve cedere di un passo contro chi non riconosce il diritto e la libertà delle persone  e dei popoli. E non c’è affare che tenga per rinunciare ai nostri valori. Liberali e Democratici, naturalmente. 

 

Dossier: "Peaceful" (?) ascent of Xi Jinping's China

"Peaceful" (?) ascent of Xi Jinping's China

Diplomatic Letter 6 April 2018

At the end of a long, accurate and widespread preparation, conducted with his well-known determination, Xi Jinping managed to impose, in conjunction with the expiry date of the first half of his ten-year mandate at the top of the PRC, a constitutional reform that allows to prolong his stay in power without time limits. The limit of only two consecutive mandates had been introduced by Deng Xiao Ping in 1982 to limit the danger of reproducing a dictatorial drift with disastrous effects, as occurred in the last years of power of Mao Tse Tung.

Although the office of President of the PRC, conferred by the People’s Assembly, had assumed, in recent years, a predominantly honorary character, Xi Jinping has shown that he believes that it was also an important symbol of continuity of power alongside the well more important positions as Secretary General and President of the Central Military Commission (FFAA control body and director) elected by the Party Congress without explicit time limits as to the holder. The reform of the Constitution desired by Deng, with the time and age limits for the highest management (69 years) also had the purpose of favoring a system of alternations that, while maintaining non-transparent rules and opaque criteria for the selection of - chosen, he also wanted to create a form of collegial leadership of power. After 36 years, the modification of the Constitution desired by Xi and definitively approved by the Assembly assures him the new possibility of being confirmed Head of State for an indefinite period, increasing its prestige and authority where he will certainly want to enhance it, to the outside in view of the increasing number of meetings at that level in the international arena. In this sense, the other amendment passed to the Constitution goes also to attribute the Vice Presidency without time limits to the very faithful Wang Qishan (who in recent years has managed the most important crisis situations, such as the continuous supervision of the relationship with the United States, even during the financial crisis of 2008-2009), which had exceeded age limits and could not continue to be part of the Political Office of the Party. With some other appointments, ratified by the Assembly, such as that of Liu he as Deputy Prime Minister (in charge of supervising economic and financial policy) and that of Yi Gang as Governor of the Central Bank, of which he was Vice of zhou Xiao - chouan (which is responsible for the strengthening of the position of the Chinese currency within the International Monetary Fund), the best negotiating nucleus is created around Xi Jinping, with solid knowledge of international economy and with particular ties in the United States, which could to be valuable in the management of the most important economic-commercial relationship with an asset, last year, in favor of China of 375 billion and a volume of Chinese investments in US Treasury bills estimated at 1200 billion dollars. Great tensions are growing, as well as in tariff wars, in the strong technological competition between the United States and China. In this context it can be interesting to note that Liu he obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration at Harvard in the mid-nineties and that yi Gang also spent long periods of university studies in the United States. The constitutional reforms, presented in January to the Central Committee of the Party seem to have given rise to protracted and partly animated discussions in that highly reserved area, of which little or nothing has leaked in China, on the “historical wisdom” and foresight still attributed to the orientations impressed by Deng. However, the fear of innovations is widespread. So much so that the official presentation was delayed a few days before the start of the People’s Congress, which then approved them with very few disagreements at the first vote and then unanimously at the second reading on March 16th. The success achieved by Xi was also assured by a widespread work, conducted together with his most trusted collaborators in recent years, to make sure that the selection and control bodies of the candidates for the most important, but also medium-influential, positions of the party, were well oriented towards the settings of its General Secretary. The vast, often ruthless anti-corruption campaign waged by Xi and effectively implemented by his most loyal Wang Qishan, owner of the Party’s powerful “Control Commission”, which also hit rival high-ranking opponents and cadres, also contributed to the final result. mid-highs of the party and of the administration (the so-called “tigers”) alongside a total estimated at well over a million offenders (the so-called “flies”) of lower rank or local. It was precisely on this latter vast component that an important part of the relative popularity of the campaign aimed at striking was based, also on the basis of a fairly effective system of popular complaints, corruption and bullying by party members and the administration, especially local level. It is perhaps important to remember in this regard that, as far as the party is concerned, the total of its members has risen to around 90 million to ensure its widespread presence in all the structures of the country. In the Congress of the Party (over 2,000 delegates) and, partly, in its Central Committee (376 members among actual and substitutes), thanks to a reform of considerable importance carried out in the mid-1990s by the General Secretary Jangzemin, exponents of the CD “Three representations” of interests and activities (economy, social life and culture) They have modified the traditional structure of “workers’ party” allowing a much wider representation and protection of interests. The formidable breadth and articulation of the party assumes particular importance due to the insistent signs of its preponderant influence that they wanted to confirm in the Congress of the Party of October and in the following session of the Assembly of the People. Reforms and affirmations of a constitutional nature addressed to its Secretary General, first identified as an “essential nucleus” of the party and then acclaimed as an essential ideological guide with the insertion of his thought for a “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era” in the text of the Constitution, they wanted to emphasize it (that recognition was previously given only to living Mao and to Deng posthumously).

Xi Jinping said and expressly repeated that he plans to absolutely impose his model (also hoping to see it widely imitated in other legal systems), to the PRC inspired by an authoritarian ideological rigor impressed on the conformity of thought of all those who have management positions (who must ensure its loyalty as an obligation under the Constitution). The same rigorous uniformity is imposed as strictly mandatory also to the official media and also to the rare autonomous sources. Consider that China is a reality of about 700 million Internet subscribers, as well as a vast network of social communications to which the non-expression of thoughts other than “conformity” is imposed by a formidable censorship apparatus (hundreds of words or expressions that, when used, determine the interruption of the connection) managed by an “IT authority” who is said to have more than 1.3 million employees. Of course, for Xi the information networks must also carry out a widespread guided information and guidance work. The preponderant and pervading function of the party is thus fully extended to the orientation if not to the imposition of an ideological model that in the past of the PRC was not so absolute, when the schools of the party were mainly oriented to ensuring discipline and dedication to development, without such a uniform ideological task whose single model was more faded.

Overall, internally, the attention of Xi Jin Ping in the first five years of his mandate, unlike the external plan on which his activity has already been quite remarkable to protect and expand the projection of the PRC, was above all dedicated to strengthening the bases of its power while a large part of the basic reforms of the economy has still remained an increasingly urgent need for implementation. More important for him, for the consequences on the life and management of the PRC, is the article of the new Constitution which sanctions “the leading role of the party as the founding character of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which implies a complete prevalence of thought and party directives on government action and a need for absolute discipline on the part of all. The party must be recognized as a necessary guarantor of order and security in the renewed search for increased power and wealth it has launched for China.

The preexisting Constitution also included in the preamble references to universal and potentially liberal values ​​that had ignited many hopes in China and abroad. They have been deleted in the new text with the approval of XI. Outside the PRC they are a great disappointment for all those who hoped, in the multiplication of openings and in dialogue with China, to be able to “contaminate” it with some model of greater freedom, of openness towards elements of democracy, of greater weight of society civil in respect for human rights and in the structure and autonomy of justice by the party with particular regard to the independence of judges and with a strengthening of the rights and guarantees of legitimate defenses.

Instead, among the Congress’s constitutional resolutions, the re-issue of a special Commission to counteract and sanction corruption and non-compliance with the directives that the public administration will now have as its main objective is featured. It will again be a Commission directly responsible to the party, with rights of protection and defense decidedly attenuated for those under investigation and convicted. Also this aspect of Chinese evolution is certainly a disappointment for the intentions and activities of many countries (European countries were distinguished, and Italy in the front line for the number of initiatives of “juridical education” of magistrates and lawyers for their approach to western models very distant from the Chinese reality). Remaining in the framework of the party it may be interesting to underline some aspects of its decision-making process. Without prejudice to the absolute predominance that XI Jinping wanted to make, which is at the same time Secretary General, President of the Republic, President of the Central Military Commission (the office to which he wanted to add the supreme commander of the FFAA), the main decisions and the essential guidelines of the party are normally decided in the so-called “leading groups” of consultative composition open also to non-party members. Xi wanted, of course, to personally assume the presidency of the principals, especially the one for economic reforms and national security. It is interesting to recall, for the internal and external ambitions of China, that this group, based on the US model for security with responsibility for the protection of internal and international security, wants to expand its competences in the Chinese model, affecting also ambitions of external expansion of the PRC. Thus his mandate includes the timely defense against the dangers of secessionism of Tibet and the “Uyghur” region of Xinxiang but also the strong hope of a reunification with Taiwan and a control of Hong Kong’s autonomist and democratic aspirations. Above all, the affirmation of an increasingly extensive sovereignty of China over the South China Sea and, hopefully, parts of the northern one is important. These are the so-called “cointerests” of the People’s Republic, to which the utmost attention must be paid.

For the work of the “leading groups” the advisory association of representatives not specifically of the party as economic and social experts, Presidents of the Universities (particularly important for the contribution of their relations with exponents of foreign universities) to widen the flow was so far important. of not specifically Chinese ideas and experiences. We must ask ourselves, with the increased need for compliance with the directives, whether these precious references to “external” contributions will not be less explicit and more fearful for a contribution to the wider orientation of the guidelines, especially economic ones that the party itself will want to impress.

On the economic-social level, the expansion of the information technology component in China is becoming increasingly impressive, if not monstrous, not only for development programs but also for the practical aspects of citizens’ lives in the various components of the “information society” that China intends to broaden, even if subjected to the widespread control of the party that intends to expand the essential propagandistic and educational aspect, silencing the attempts at exposing dissent. On a social level, the futuristic project of using information gathered with information technology to establish a particular “census for the future” of the already demonstrated and potential capacities, of life habits and of correct behavior has aroused particular curiosity. economic-social of at least 400 million to select the ambitions towards managerial functions in all sectors of the life of the country.

On an economic level, the People’s Republic, without taking initiatives openly hostile to the existing order, exploiting the benefits that can derive from it in the present (such as improving its position within the Bank and Monetary Fund, with access to its currency to the list of the uniforms of reference in the international monetary order) and the advantages that derived from the admission in 2001 to the WTO from which awaits the recognition, not easy and still referred, as “market economy”, also tends to create in the international monetary order its competing financial initiatives (such as the Investment Infrastructure Bank of Asia, with potential investments of $ 1 trillion, or the Investment Bank of the BRICS) which have the common feature of investments less conditioned to strict compliance with financial discipline compared to the Bretton Woods and United Nations institutions.

Similarly in the field of international trade relations, in which it insists on presenting itself as the champion of maximum openness and free development, China seeks to impose, especially for Asia Pacific and Central Asia, its model of “Overall Economic Partnership” with prevailing tricks to not be committed to some rules of protection of a freer and fairer competition (such as respect for trade union rights, limits to the prevalence of industries and state institutions, more correctness in the protection of intellectual property). These criteria wanted to introduce them to schemes such as that of the TTP that would have involved more than 15 countries whose shores face the Atlantic from the Pacific. The declared defection of states

United certainly decreases the value of the initiative, (from which China remained excluded for now) compared to the lack of some binding rules in the Chinese brand schemes. Japan India and Australia are at the forefront of membership attempts to encourage the survival of the spirit and intent of the scheme.

In the same sense of increasing its own strategic (if not prevalent) influence is the potentially great initiative of the New Silk Roads, with their maritime and terrestrial projections towards the Indian Ocean, Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and Europe made up of infrastructure and communication projects, financed by advantageous financial instruments of the institutions created by China and to which 75 countries have so far joined. The strategy aims to create a privileged economic and commercial projection for the People’s Republic while encouraging the economic development of its less favored central-western regions. As an “economic giant” and a source of investment, capital and aid for the world of developing countries, the PRC tends to overcome the overall position of the United States and succeeds thanks to the trade surplus it has with most of its partners and its so far not too high sensitivity to the overall increase in its indebtedness (more internal than abroad).

Overall, in managing the orientations of its economy, the PRC gradually proves to be much more selective than in the early years of opening up to the benefits of the Deng era market economy in applying these to its own development, increasingly tending to criteria of an economy of a managerial and statist nature that more carefully selects the criteria of other systems that may be appropriate to it.

In managing its external “political” projection (with respect to a prevalence already assured on the economic-commercial level) the People’s Republic has made great progress, even with a more substantial and decisive use of the soft power that goes with many countries (especially of the Asian and African area) from the economic plan, to increase its political influence and overall prestige (especially compared to the United States but also to Europe) in the vast Pacific-Asian space. He has always paid a lot of attention, participating actively and sometimes with arrogance for his interests, at the regional meetings of Asia-Pacific unlike the United States which, absorbed in so many conflicts in other regions of the world, saw de - to increase their influence also in inverse proportion to the air-naval upgrading of the still valid “pivot to Asia” which still ensures a clear prevalence over the PRC, also thanks to the solidity of some of its strategic links in the area. The People’s Republic, also in this field, is embarking on a determined effort to strengthen its military capabilities both with the continuous growth of its military budget (second in the world) and its sophistication in terms of external projection capacity. Even according to American industry experts, the increased official military budget of China, of the order of $ 174 billion, would go, in the relative mystery that hides its real figures, increased to an extent of up to 50 percent for expenses charged to the budgets of other Ministries specifically involved in the development and acquisition of the IT and missile potential, of interdiction capacities and of the possible contrast of the American arsenals. In the programs of realization of the “Chinese miracle” widely boasted by Xi for the deadlines of economic development, linked to the anniversaries of communism in the People’s Republic (2021 for the achievement of a medium-sized company, 2025 for the strengthening of the overall value and of Chinese exports, of the triumph in 2049 - the hundredth anniversary of the People’s Republic - with the creation of a truly modern society, of excellent economic conditions and social satisfaction for all its citizens - 2039 also stands out as the deadline for the modernization of the Chinese FFA , as a force completely capable of an adequate international projection. It is one of the reforms to which it is particularly attentive, with restructuring and regional dislocations already underway, XI Jinping.

This is a very ambitious calendar which according to XI will require the full and constant commitment of the whole country under the iron leadership of a communist party guaranteeing the necessary stability. It is not certain, in spite of the renewal, apparently without expiration of his power, which will be the deadlines to which Xi’s age (65 years) will allow him to participate, the important thing for him is the total commitment to start them at the cost of a regime that wants to be completely authoritarian.

Only the developments of the near future will allow us to assess what the effective global prevalence of the People’s Republic will be and what effects it will have on the world equilibrium, now clearly present in his vision of the “Chinese dream”. For the moment, on the occasion of his visit to China last fall, Trump has limited himself to affirming that the overall area of ​​the Asia-Pacific region is large enough for the simultaneous presence of two great powers, reserving in his thought a much wider dominance than the PRC worldwide .

An inevitable certainty on the domestic level of China, due to its prospects for stability in planned successes, is a significant change in the responsibilities of the Communist Party of China. So far the acceptance of its heavy discipline imposed on the Chinese was based mainly on the party’s ability to guarantee constant economic development. Now this is added, to counterbalance the harsh limitations imposed by the party and to maintain the prevailing support of a population certainly of nationalist spirit, the achievement of significant goals in the affirmation of the prestige and external power of China. A warning therefore for a part or the rest of the world. 

 

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