China and the west: competing traditions make true friendship highly unlikely – here’s why


EPA-EFE/Erik S. Lesser

Astrid H. M. Nordin, King’s College London and Graham M Smith, University of LeedsAt the 2021 summit of the G7, which was held in Cornwall in the west of England, one person figured prominently in conversations but was not part of the gathering: the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. A fair proportion of the group’s deliberations concerned developing a shared approach to China – the awkwardly named US-backed spending plan, “Build Back Better World” (B3W), which is designed to rival China’s massive “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI).


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There was also agreement on the questions of democracy and human rights, with the meeting’s concluding communiqué stipulating: “we will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law”.

Hot on the G7’s heels, Nato leaders have ramped up the rhetoric and named China on a list of security risks, claiming that “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order”.

As expected, Chinese officials hit back, accusing the G7 of manipulation and NATO of slandering its peaceful development. Yet, in the days before the statements from the G7 and Nato, Xi had been calling for China to “expand” its “circle of friends”. Could that circle be made to include those in the G7 and NATO?

Differing understandings of friendship

Xi Jinping’s call for friendship gives us an opportunity to examine Chinese politics on both the domestic and international stage. On the face of it, it suggests the possibility of rapprochement between the rich liberal democracies represented by the G7 and the authoritarian Chinese state. However, despite appearances of a call for a closer relationship, there is more than one way of being friends – and Xi’s idea might be somewhat different to what many in countries attending the G7 might expect.

For most countries in the G7, the understanding of what friendship might mean is based on a Euro-American tradition of thought that understands it as a voluntary and reciprocal relationship of equals. Importantly, on this view of friendship, friends remain together despite – or even because of – their differences. Indeed, differences are seen as productive and enhancing of the friendship. This view is exemplified by Plutarch’s comment that “I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” Friends disagree in such a way that they remain friends and, if necessary, disagree again in the future.

However, this is probably not how Xi sees friendship. His understanding might instead fall back on a Confucian tradition – as it often does in his “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” that includes “friendship” as one of its “core socialist values”. In that tradition, good friendship is modelled on the hierarchy of older and younger brother in the traditional family. Here, the younger – or lesser – relation has a chance to grow by emulating the positive example of the more elevated friend.

The importance of the friend as a virtuous example to emulate is so strong that Confucius repeatedly urges in the Analects: “Do not have as a friend anyone who is not as good as you are”. In this tradition, the superior party is duty-bound to care for and correct the lesser party in this process of moral growth, and the lesser party is impelled to heed their advice and direction.

This understanding of friendship is reflected in China’s internal and external political relations. Internally, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sits above other societal actors – those who are mistaken are corrected and improved. This can be seen in initiatives ranging from patriotic education campaigns to mass incarceration in camps on China’s “new frontier”, Xinjiang.

Prominent Chinese intellectuals like Zhao Tingyang argue that the best way for China to “turn enemies into friends” is to lead by example. Xi’s call for friendship is simultaneously a call for the Chinese state to be better at portraying China in a positive light. However, this does not mean that hard power methods are out of bounds if push comes to shove, as demonstrated in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea.

Can China and liberal democracies be friends?

Given these views of friendship, what chance is there for rapprochement and friendship between liberal democracies and authoritarian China? The Chinese model suggests a way of living in harmony with China. Chinese leaders and citizens generally do not see China as being a threat to other countries, but a generous and cultivated friend. Chinese leaders responded to the NATO communiqué by telling NATO to stop “hyping” the idea of a “China threat”. But for liberal democracies, a friendship where the senior partner directs things and the junior partner must change to be more like them is not the sort of friendship they want – especially when they might be cast as the “junior” partner.

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden, both wearing masks, at the Nato summit in Brussels, June 2021.
Equal partners?
EPA-EFE/Olivier Matthys/POOL

In contrast, the Anglo-European tradition of thinking about friendship emphasises equality and cooperative difference. However, the rhetoric and actions coming from the G7 and NATO appear far from extending friendship based on any such appreciation of a real diversity and difference of culture, approach, and values. As clubs of the likeminded, they see China as a threat precisely because they can only conceive of being in a friendship with “people like us”. Friends can be different – but only within liberal democratic parameters.

These differences mean that both China and the liberal democracies could forever be estranged, locked in a contest for superiority. A friendship could be possible between China and liberal democracies. For this to happen, liberal democracies would need to be true to their traditions of equal but different friendship, allowing for genuine difference. Based on its own traditions, China may well find such relationships difficult to accept.The Conversation

Astrid H. M. Nordin, Lau Chair of Chinese International Relations, King’s College London and Graham M Smith, Associate Professor in Political Theory, University of Leeds

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

ACTION STAR CHUCK NORRIS: A TRUE ‘KUNG FU’ CHRISTIAN


Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist, action star and television and film actor who is known for action roles such as Cordell Walker on WALKER, TEXAS RANGER and for his iconically tough image and roundhouse kick, reports Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries.

But, in an interview for ANS and Safe World’s IPTV News on Wednesday, February 11, 2009) at the 17th Annual Movieguide® Faith and Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, he revealed that he is now also a “Kung Fu” Christian.

With his second wife, Gena, at his side, Norris, who in 1968, was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Fighter of the Year, talked about how God came into his life and changed everything for him.

“You know,” he said, “when you try to do it without God in your life — which I tried for a lot of years in my film business and in the film world — and even though I was successful, I was very unhappy. I had a huge hole in my heart and once I met my wife and reestablished my faith in God and things turned around for me and made ‘WALKER’ more successful and made my life a lot happier.”

Norris then spoke about the difference knowing God can make in a person’s life.

“I’ve been on both sides of the road,” he said. “I’ve been there without God and I’ve been there with God and believe me it’s much more rewarding and fulfilling when God is on your side.”

Chuck Norris also spoke about how encouraged he is that so many family-friendly films are now on the market and were being honored by Movieguide® at their annual gala.

“I knew that if you got some good films up there that were faith-based, they would do well at the box office,” he said. “People are really hungry for that on television and in film. When FACING THE GIANTS came out, which was a low budget film that was made for a hundred-thousand dollars, it touched the hearts of a lot of people and it touched my heart. In fact, it’s one of my all time favorites.

“Then, when FIREPROOF came out, which was another low budget film and it did humongous numbers, it showed that if you have the right film and you touch the right spirit of the people, it’s going to do very well.”

I then asked Chuck Norris about what type of movies he would like to see come out of Hollywood that can lift the spirits of a world in such a mess.

“We need films of hope,” he said. “We need films that show we can accomplish anything if we have God on our side.”

He smiled when I asked him how he met Gena, “We met in Dallas twelve years ago and we have celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary last November,” he said as they held hands.

Gena cut in and said, “It’s been good,” and Chuck added, “It’s been really, really good.”

 

Bruce Lee

Chuck Norris then spoke about the role that Bruce Lee, who first met Chuck at a karate demonstration in 1964 in Long Beach, California, played in his life.

“Bruce actually was the one that started my career with THE GREEN HORNET back in the sixties and then when he passed away in 1972, I kind of took the mantle and started back in 1976 doing my films, but Bruce he was the force behind it all.”

In WAY OF THE DRAGON, Bruce Lee had Chuck Norris as his opponent in

the final death fight at the Coliseum in Rome, which is today considered one of Lee’s most legendary fight scenes.

Chuck Norris went on to say that one of the highlights of his long career took place at the Movieguide® Gala back in 1998 when he won the Epiphany award for the best Christian program of the previous year for the CBS series, WALKER, TEXAS RANGER.

“I think it was a shock to everybody in the room because we were competing against a film about Mother Theresa and also TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL,” he said. “Of course WALKER had the reputation as a violent show but the thing is we did some incredible Christian programming on it and it really touched a lot of people.

“In fact, our faith-based episodes were our highest rated shows. In fact, our first faith based episode was the first time WALKER broke the top ten show on the Saturday night network. So that was pretty incredible.”

So now, although Chuck Norris has achieved so much in his life, with numerous action feature films, and as a martial arts star, winning many championships including being a six-time undefeated World Professional Middle Weight Karate Champion, and teaching the martial arts to people like Steve McQueen, Bob Barker, Priscilla Presley and Donnie & Marie Osmond, he considers his greatest achievement is being a “Kung Fu” Christian; a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Report from the Christian Telegraph

DRUNKEN RUSSIAN HIGH JUMPER


A Russian High Jumper competing at an International meet has turned out drunk and now faces a one year ban for embarrassing the sport and Russia. The footage can be seen on YouTube and is embedded in this Blog posting.

It can obviously be very amusing as you watch the footage; however, it would seem that his drunkenness was a result of the collapse of a romantic relationship with his girlfriend. So in reality it is sad, yet amusing to a degree.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=BsMGwBxRpbs