Playing A Long, Methodical Game
It is very difficult to make a decision about China. One may consider the Chinese as extremely hard-working, but the person will be surprised to know that they are allowed to sleep around lunchtime and after 9pm, either facedown at their desk or by commandeering the sofa or a beanbag chair. There are countless such conflicting incidents. It is, therefore, really difficult to understand China. Even the US has not been able to realise the change in Chinese society for long.
In his latest publication ‘The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order‘, former Brookings Institution scholar and current China Director of the US National Security Council Dr Rush Doshi has discussed this issue. The Economist, in a review article on this book, stated: “His (Dr Doshi’s) views carry weight.” It is difficult to say whether any Government Official has written such a book before Dr Doshi. In a nutshell, the author has wanted to say that the Final Day is Terrible in this publication.
Dr Doshi has mentioned that China is controlling the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing. He added that the Asian Giant would economically “weaken the financial advantages that underwrite US hegemony and seize the commanding heights of the Fourth Industrial Revolution from Artificial Intelligence to Quantum Computing, with the US declining into a deindustrialised, English-speaking version of a Latin American republic, specialising in commodities, real estate, tourism, and perhaps transnational tax evasion”.
Democracy is one of the reasons why the US has taken so long to understand the change in Chinese society. As the US is governed mainly by Democracy, researchers have different views on everything about China. Dr Doshi is not critical of Democracy, but has said that it is possible to deal with China in a different manner. It is undeniable that the ability to bring different views and thoughts together has strengthened the Asian Powerhouse, he added. In this context, Dr Doshi has discussed Deng Xiaoping (August 22, 1904 – February 19, 1997), a Chinese revolutionary and statesman who had served as the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China from December 1978 to November 1989, and his policies. “Once Deng said that the greatest advantage of the Leninist system is its ability to quickly implement a decision once it has been made,” stressed Dr Doshi. Sun Tzu‘s Theory of ‘Quick Victory in War‘ around 500 BCE has repeatedly influenced the Chinese Communist leadership 2,500 years later. It may be noted that Sun Tzu (544 BCE – 496 BCE) was a Chinese Military Strategist and the author of ‘The Art of War‘.
There are more reasons not to understand China, and Dr Doshi has once again quoted Deng in this context. It is important to realise the essence of Deng’s Tao Guang Yang Hui Theory to understand China. The interpretation of the phrase Tao Guang Yang Hui is captured in Deng’s maxim “keep a low profile and bide your time, while also getting something accomplished”. The question arises here is: How long one would have to wait? According to Dr Doshi, everyone, from the US to Thailand, had warships to carry fighter jets, after the Second World War. However, China launched its first fighter aircraft-carrying vessel in 2017, a century after the invention of such a warship! Dr Doshi is of the opinion that China had financial and organisational strength to manufacture such vessels, but Beijing’s views on prioritisation are different from others.
Henry Kissinger (b. May 27, 1923) believes that the West has had difficulty understanding this thought process. Dr Doshi has quoted the veteran diplomat as saying (in 1958) that the US is a country of experts. Hence, the Americans are accustomed to think of the problem as an economic, political or military one. They are not accustomed to seeing all the problems together. This is the specialty of China, as the Chinese tend to consider each and everything differently, and do not mix one with the other. This is one of the major topics of discussions in The Long Game what Dr Doshi calls Grand Strategy.
China began to change in 1989 mainly because of three events, which Dr Doshi has called Trifecta. The lexical meaning of the term is “a run of three wins or grand events“. China’s Trifecta began with the Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989), the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union (1991) and the US’ victory in the Gulf War (1991). The Trifecta helped China recognise its future rival, understand that the Soviet Union was no longer its main competitor, and solidify its Grand Strategy. In his publication, Dr Doshi has explained all these.
In terms of time, the Third and Current Phase of the Grand Strategy began in 2016, with the rise of Donald Trump in the US and Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). According to Dr Doshi, these two developments were shocking for China in a sense. He wrote: “Beijing believed that the world’s most powerful Democracies were withdrawing from the International Order they had helped erect abroad and were struggling to govern themselves at home.” He added: “The West’s subsequent response to the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020, and then the storming of the US Capitol by extremists in 2021, reinforced a sense that ‘time and momentum are on our side’, as President Xi Jinping put it shortly after those events. China’s leadership and foreign policy elite declared that a ‘period of historical opportunity’ had emerged to expand the country’s strategic focus from Asia to the wider globe and its governance systems.” President Xi also decided not to follow Deng’s Wait and Watch Policy anymore during this period of time. In January 2021, the Chinese President stated that the “great change unseen in a century”, associated with this transition was at the centre of China’s Grand Strategy. “I often say that leading cadres must keep two overall situations in mind… one is the great rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation and the other is the great changes unseen in a century. This is the basic starting point of our planning work,” he stressed while delivering a speech at an event.
Nearly seven months after President Xi’s remarks, the US withdrew troops from Afghanistan. Geopolitical experts have opined that this move would create troubles for the US. In an article published in August 2021, the 98-year-old Kissinger wrote that the withdrawal of troops would dissatisfy the US’ friends, encourage enemies and confuse observers. In other words, the Global Geopolitics would change abruptly after the withdrawal. Realising this fact, Dr Doshi expressed almost the same concern and published the book at the end of July. And, he expressed serious concern over the US’ move in the guise of a Hungarian-Jesuit priest, China watcher and author, named László Ladány (January 14, 1914 – September 23, 1990).
Ladány was expelled from China after the 1949 Revolution, and began research in Hong Kong. For the next 50 years, he published China News Analysis, an influential English language periodical on Chinese Affairs, on the basis of pamphlets and other papers distributed by the Communist Party of China (CPC) among its cadres. More than 1,200 issues of this eight-page periodical helped Washington DC realise the activities and views of the CPC. In his book, Dr Doshi has admitted that it would have been more difficult to understand Chinese Politics without Ladány analyses.
Dr Doshi has worked really hard to understand Chinese Politics. He has quoted members of the Royal Families of various countries, political leaders, philosophers and war strategists in his publication. In an attempt to understand Chinese Philosophy, he has repeatedly mentioned a few things, including Deng’s Tao Guang Yang Hui, in his book. Although it may frustrate the readers, it is also a fact that the meanings of various Chinese words change with the passage of time and place. Hence, Dr Doshi should not be blamed. His informative book shall help the readers not only understand Chinese Politics, but also the changing Global Geopolitics.
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