Discussing “China’s Voice” #3 (钟声)

The „golden week” in China started with a commentary in „China’s Voice” (1st May 2019) about building a community of common destiny. Introduced by Chairman Xi Jinping, this political slogan reflects China’s idealistic goals of shaping peace among human beings. Although idealistic, the concept has become the key point in China’s foreign narrative, one that allows the Middle Kingdom to portray itself as a very positive power, at least to those in the Developing World. This time the commentary refers to the latest visit made by the Laotian president Bounnhang Vorachit, who is also general secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee. Laos became the first county to sign the “Joint Plan for Building a Community of Common Destiny” with China. By signing the document, both sides declare political, economic, security, people to people and environmental cooperation. As presented by “China’s Voice”, the pragmatic cooperation between the two parties brings political security and stability and benefits the people of the two countries and the region of South East Asia. Reading between the lines, however, party to party dynamics are perceived as the core of bilateral relations. This cooperation provides the basis for stable, effective bilateral cooperation and is seen as “the guiding light for the development of bilateral relations”. An essential part of the whole picture are the personal relations between leaders. As always, due to Plekhanov’s reading of history, people to people links have been seen as the core part of the human past.  The shared values, outstanding political ties, and unique friendly feelings have become the distinctive attributes of the new community of destiny.

Moreover, according to “China’s Voice”, the signed document between China and Laos presents bilateral relations as based on political consolidation that serves to bring the community of common destiny onto the world stage. What is even more important is that both sides ensure their military commitment. Using an old phrase from Mencius shouwang xiangzhu (守望相助), interpreted as “to join the forces to defend against the external enemy” or “to keep watch and defend one another”, the Chinese side signals its intentions towards  strengthening military ties with Laos. This understanding is presented in the light of shaping the defensive security line for the community of common destiny. Examining the above mentioned quotation further, it is worth highlighting that this passage came from the conversation between duke Bi Zhan and Mencius. They were debating the way to establish a benevolent government. As advocated by Mencius, the first step towards a benevolent government must be to lay down boundaries. The boundaries should be defined correctly, and the superior person (ruler) needs to know their place. Finally, the system of mutual aid would be accomplished and “all friendly offices to one another in their going out and coming in, aid one another in keeping watch and ward, and sustain one another in sickness” (cited after J. Legge, Chinese Text Project). This understanding, quoting Mencius, reflects China’s intention to build an idealistic, moral, pacifistic international system.

To sum up, it is worth mentioning that, with the narrative of a community of common destiny, China is looking for its place in international society. This process is moving mainly through China’s relations with the Developing World and primarily with countries that have one party systems, such as Laos. Party to party relations, as interpreted by “China’s Voice”, are perceived as more effective in building China’s BRI project. Those relations secure common interests e.g. security for the political system. Party to party relations offer the easiest route for exerting the principle of “seeking common ground, putting difference aside”, mutual learning and respect that Chinese diplomacy has repeated since the beginning of the People’s Republic of China. In other words, the relations with the Developing World might fulfil China’s promise of building the community of common destiny and keep China’s reputation (face) secure. This assumption, as stated in “China’s Voice”, might provide the basis for building a further international, multilevel and complex movement.