Ideology for the new world

It’s about ‘One Belt, One Road’. The problem with it is it cannot go on without something like a common ideology for all the participants

By DMITRY KOSYREV / Pic By BLOOMBERG

I’ll be in China soon, speaking on the matters of “building a community with a shared future for mankind”.

It’s all very simple, in fact. It’s about the Chinese project of “One Belt, One Road”. The problem with it is it cannot go on without something like a common ideology for all the participants.

You don’t like that word, “ideology”? All right, call it a set of rules or principles, natural for all or some of the participants. Call it anything you like, but it has to be there.

Let’s not forget that we are talking about 75% of nations of the world. There was that grandiose Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing last week, that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad attended.

And there were 124 participants in that project on the eve of the forum. We are talking about roughly 150 nations in the world where there are less than 200 nations, members of the United Nations or wanting to be.

And the funny thing, it was not China that pushed its partners towards anything like a common ideology. On the contrary, all we heard from China was: We are building roads, ports, communications, and we trade.

We all keep our governance, ideologies, religions and lifestyles. China is not going to lay down its set of rules for its partners.

“No, wait” was the answer from many “Belt and Road” participants. Let’s talk about values and ideas too. So, we have not one, but at least — according to my calculations — 27 conferences around the top-level BRF. Some took place before it and some will happen later.

There’ll be guests from many countries bringing their ideas to China, and China will listen and try to sort it all out.

What was the need for a common galore of ideas around that Belt and Road project? We live in a world different from what it used to be only three, four or five years ago.

What will happen if some Western nation decides to slap sanctions on you just because you chose China as a partner? That used to be unthinkable only recently, but it’s not unthinkable anymore.

There has to be a set of principles that all or some nations around the Belt and Road should know and consider exactly for such eventualities.

It should not be an obligatory ideology, but it may be a general concept everyone should know. Like, if you encounter sanctions, we’ll try to improve the terms of trade with you.

If fact, there was a lot of such conversations at the “big”, top-level BRF. Look at what Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said.

China, he said, had to “strengthen the fundamental tenets of global economic relations, and create conditions for promoting its products.

How can this be done? By developing transport infrastructure, port facilities, air, rail and motor transport, and building roads. This is exactly what China is doing.

This was how it all started, but later it became obvious both in terms of China’s growth and for us that this would not be enough. We needed to strengthen the fundamental tenets of international economic relations.

That’s exactly what I was talking about, right? Back to Putin: “Unfortunately, some Western countries are claiming sole global leadership.

They carelessly trample on the norms and principles of international law, resort to blackmail, sanctions and pressure, and try to force their values and dubious ideals on entire countries and populations.”

“No one wants to face any restrictions, no one wants any trade wars, maybe with the exception of those who are behind these processes.

In any case, an overwhelming majority, nearly 100%, strongly believe that these restrictions and wars undermine the global economy and its development.

As strange as it may sound, the global economy as a whole needs the liberal values that China currently champions.”

But that’s only a Russian view while there is also a real flood of ideas from so many of these dozens of China’s partners.

And they all want to share and discuss them. We are probably entering an age of new ideas for the world, and it so happens that China is a centre of that activity.

You may ask what am I going to talk about at the venue I’m invited to. So far, I have no idea, since there are so many things to discuss.

But when I, inevitably, will make my pick, my readers will know all about it.

  • Dmitry Kosyrev is an author of 8 novels and a book of short stories, as well as a columnist for 2 Moscow publications. Orientalist by education (Moscow University), he has a special love for Malaysia. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.