President Wang Jisi Gives Talks at MESI, SISU

Date:2014-06-20

“China has grown up”, said Wang Jisi, President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU) in his lecture at Middle East Studies Institute (MESI), Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) on June 17.


Although China’s economic growth is impressive, “U.S. still regards China to be in the circle of East Asia”. Mr. Wang Jisi said, nowadays when he paid a visit to the U.S., “when talking with Americans in charge of East Asian affairs about some major issues, such as issues concerning Afghanistan, India and East Asia, they are not concerned and would not talk about them at all. Instead, they would always talk about some messy problems such as Sino-Japanese disputes and South China Sea issues.”


“Therefore, in the following years, I have been traveling around East Asia, Africa, Latin America and few Central Asian places. It’s a big world, so why should China be viewed to be within such a place from the perspective of U.S.? This is one of my ideological changes.”


After the lecture, Mr. Wang Jisi took questions from journalists briefly.


Journalist: Recently, extremism is rapidly resurging throughout the whole Middle East. China is also threatened by it. So, should China be further involved in Middle East issues? If the extremism continues to expand, how will China deal with it?


Mr. Wang Jisi: Judging from the global trend, the resurgence of extremism seems to be inevitable. Under the globalization, there comes the doubt of identity which has been magnified by social inequality. Besides, now various kinds of means can be used to achieve political purposes, such as the Internet and terrorist activities. For the country, we should strengthen governance by taking both rigid and flexible measures.


Actually, many countries have much experience in dealing with extremism worthy to be learned from. Recently, an English scholar told me that China could use Britain’s experience in dealing with Northern Irish Republican Army for reference. At the end of last century, Northern Irish Republican Army committed so many acts of terrorism. When I was in Britain in 1982, there were always bombings which have almost disappeared now. 


Journalist: On maritime issues, China seems to be taking an unprecedentedly tough attitude and is said to be challenging regional rules by many countries?


Mr. Wang Jisi: Actually it is unnecessary for some media to excessively hype about some issues on maritime disputes between China and its neighbors now. For example, some time ago, a Chinese tourist was robbed in the Philippines and was covered by the media. It might not be that important if it happened in Cuba.


As a matter of fact, for many things, we can change our way of thinking. Taking China’s attitude toward countries involved in South China Sea disputes as an example, many people take it for granted that these countries are so small, why would they compete with China? However, if we stand in their shoes to think about it, we may understand them better.


Some sort of social Darwinism seems to be entrenched among the public, which means that they consider the law of the jungle to be the rule of the international community and now China is a great power, while Vietnam and the Philippines are small countries. However, Vietnam has a population of 0.1 billion and the Philippines seventy or eighty million. If they are small countries, then Britain and France would be smaller countries and only U.S. seems to be capable of competing with us. Actually, we have always been claiming that, countries, big or small, are all equal and territorial disputes should be resolved by peaceful means. Chinese government has indeed been doing like this. Of course, if the territory is ours, then it should be ours and some measures need to be taken to resolve the disputes. 


Journalist: China has organized the CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia) Summit with high profile, promotes “One Belt and One Road” and takes part in a series of activities of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Does it mean that China’s new government is trying to create its own rules of geopolitical games in the field of security?


Mr. Wang Jisi: Now China is indeed making some plans, such as the Silk Road Economic Belt directing at Central Asia and West Asia and the Maritime Silk Road directing at Southeast Asia. These ideas are great, but now the problem is how to concretize them. Many countries are looking forward to their roles in China’s conception of “One Belt and One Road”, but China cannot put forward a very detailed plan for the time being. Now we need to combine academic, economic and business circles together to carry out some concrete projects and put forward some feasible reports.


Certainly, some conceptions are put forward out of political consideration, for example the New Asian Security Concept.


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