Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 65 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/13/19

All under Heaven, China's challenge to the Westphalian system

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   2 comments
Author 73066
Message Pepe Escobar
Become a Fan
  (189 fans)

From Asia Times

Beijing is tweaking the rules of the Western order to reflect its revitalized geopolitical and economic power, but some Americans see this as a threat to their way of life

Chinese guardian lion in Beijing
Chinese guardian lion in Beijing
(Image by (Not Known) Wikipedia (, Author: Author Not Given)
  Details   Source   DMCA

Embedded in the now dominant US narrative of "Chinese aggression," Sinophobes claim that China is not only a threat to the American way of life, but also an existential threat to the American republic.

It's worth noting, of course, that the American way of life has long ceased to be a model to be emulated all across the Global South and that the US walks and talks increasingly like an oligarchy.

Underneath it all is a huge divide, in outlook and cultural beliefs, between the two great powers, as some leaders and writers have attempted to explain.

President Xi Jinping's speech last week does make it clear that Beijing is engaged in tweaking the rules of the current Westphalian system to truly reflect its reconquered geopolitical and economic power.

Yet it's hardly a matter of "overthrowing" the system established by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. As much as trade blocks are ruling the new geoeconomic game, nation-states are bound to remain the backbone of the international system.

One of Beijing's key foreign policies is no interference in other nations' internal affairs. In parallel, the historical record since the end of WWII shows that the US has never refrained from interfering in other nations' internal affairs.

What Beijing is really aiming at is what Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Center of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, referred to at a crucial intervention during the June 2016 Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore.

Lanxin defined the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as being an avenue to a "post-Westphalian world," in a sense of a true 21st century geoeconomic integration of Eurasia acted out by Asian nations. That's the key reason why Washington, which set the current international rules in 1945, fears BRI and now demonizes it 24/7.

Understanding Tianxia

The notion that imperial China, over the centuries, obtained a Mandate of Heaven over Tianxia, or "All under Heaven," and that Tianxia is a "dictatorial system" is absolute nonsense. Once again that reflects the profound ignorance by professional Sinophobes about the deepest strands of classical Chinese culture.

They could do worse than learn about Tianxia from someone like Zhao Tingyang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and author of an essential book first published by China CITIC Press in 2016, then translated into French last year under the title Tianxia: Tous sous un meme ciel.

Tingyang teaches us that the Tianxia system of the Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BC) is essentially a theory -- a concept born in Ancient China but not specific to China that goes way beyond the country to tackle universal problems in a "process of dynamic formation that refers to globalization."

This introduces us to a fascinating conceptual bridge linking ancient China to 21st-century globalization, arguing that political concepts defined by nation-states, imperialisms and rivalries for hegemony are losing meaning when faced with globalization. The future is symbolized by the new power of all-inclusive global networks which is at the center of the BRI concept.

Tingyang shows that the Tianxia concept refers to a world system where the true political subject is the world. Under the Western imperialist vision, the world was always an object of conquest, domination and exploitation, and never a political subject per se.

So we need a higher and more comprehensive unifying vision than that of the nation-state under a Lao Tzu framework: "To see the world from the point of view of the world."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 5   Well Said 5   Valuable 4  
Rate It | View Ratings

Pepe Escobar Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

You Want War? Russia is Ready for War

Why Putin is driving Washington nuts

All aboard the New Silk Road(s)

Why Qatar wants to invade Syria

It was Putin's missile?

Where is Prince Bandar?

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: