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PARPCC #18 – Does China succeed in getting its ways of doing things accepted in the South? ?

PARPCC #18 – Does China succeed in getting its ways of doing things accepted in the South? ?

When you have done political science like me and you think about the diffusion of norms, we think of the European Union and its “normative power”, described by researcher Ian Manners. In this article, Garlick and Qin take a closer look at China's ability to broadcast to the South (Global South in French), by examining the reception of his slogans (like the famous “win-win cooperation”) and some of his positions (like the non-recognition of Taiwan). The article concludes with a diffusion, certainly limited, Chinese standards, but who remains to be monitored.

Garlick and Qin explain that China has established “normative diplomacy” that the country broadcasts through three main channels: the New Silk Roads, regional cooperation bodies (N+1 like BRICS, FOCAC or OSC for example) and bilateral economic cooperation. The objective of Chinese normative diplomacy is to transmit its standards to partner countries. Compared to Western actors, the standards that China wishes to convey are based on practice rather than anchored in law.

The elements to be transmitted are of two types: discursive and prescriptive. The discursive elements promote a certain vision of international relations and China's place in it. These are elements of language dear to Xi Jinping such as “the community of common destiny”, “win-win cooperation”, or co-constructed with the countries of the South over the last decades – such as the concept of “South-South cooperation” or “support for multilateralism”.

In his speeches in the South, China especially highlights elements of Xi Jinping's thought. The countries analyzed in the study, them, mainly use elements of co-constructed and more traditional languages ​​of South-South relations, and even, only in their bilateral relations with China. Chinese normative discursive elements have therefore not been widely taken up and used by actors from the South as initially desired..

The prescriptive elements mainly concern three standards: two “negative” – not having official relations with Taiwan and promoting non-interference in China's "internal affairs"; and a “positive” – the promotion of economic relations according to a logic specific to Beijing, such as the exchange of loans guaranteed by the Chinese state for privileged access to the natural resources of the beneficiary. The authors emphasize that this functioning constitutes the backbone of the collaboration between China and Pakistan, for example..

Adherence to prescriptive elements among actors in the South is more successful. Firstly because these elements are in fact prerequisites for all cooperation with China. We also note that most Western countries do not maintain official relations with Taiwan either., and those who do, like Lithuania, pay quite a lot for it. We also observe little condemnation of Chinese policy in Xinjiang by partners in the South (principle of non-interference) and a lot of “Chinese-style” economic cooperation: loans in exchange for access to natural resources, infrastructure projects carried out by Chinese state-owned enterprises, etc.

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If the success of Chinese normative diplomacy in the South is mixed, Garlick and Qin indicate that it must still force Western countries to ask questions about its influence, since they implicitly underline that the Western normative model, more focused on the law, has no more, or even less, of attraction.

Reference: Garlick, Jeremy & Qin, Fangxing (2023), « China’s « Do-as-I-do » Paradigm: Practice-Based Normative Diplomacy in the Global South », The Pacific Review.

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