Autor: Jan Campbell | 29. 6. 2021
One hundred years since the birth of a person, the beginning or end of a war or the founding of a political party is an anniversary that encourages us to remember history and look at the present, so that on this basis one can form an idea or image of the future.
In my address I would not refer to some specific achievements of the CPC I mentioned in my introductory remarks. And also in my recent book - 100 years of CP which seems to find its way step by step to readers who agree, are willing and even able to support the idea of human society and the building of a global community with a shared future for the sake of peace and wellbeing of the people in societies governed by the cognitive capitalism led by a few TNC.
Many of us accept and know that the cognitive capitalism removes the person from the processes of production, sale, receipt and investment of money. Its program of actions and goals is voiced in the form of a book called The Big Reset, in the establishment of The Council of inclusive capitalism and in calls of Governments asking to prepare ourselves for dramatic changes. These include digitalization, cybernetization, distant education, diagnostics and many more.
All is packed in words of freedom and the protection of human rights, although nearly everybody knows that the freedom is not a ready-made state. Therefore world politics has become quite startling and has acquired features of tragifarce, increasingly fanciful. Classical times, even those of confrontation, can only be reminisced about. The environment has become extremely contradictory: everything and everybody are very closely interconnected, but at the same time do not trust and fear each other. All is strange and it is unclear how to pursue a consistent policy.
Such a transformation of international practices has different consequences; one of them is the emasculation (up to the complete loss of any sense) of political expert dialogue among international relations specialists, whose discussions have always accompanied official negotiations. As I was among such pundits in the past allow me a few words in regard to the new challenges in international relations influenced by technologies. You, diplomats and academicians may wish to consider them in your work together with the achievements and experience gained over a period of 100 years under the guidance of the CPC and select a few topics for a cooperation with ICL. As a result such a cooperation may enhance our joint effort, it may become an example for how to enrich each other and how to support a peaceful development of relations between two unequal states, the Czech Republic and the PRC at times when the foreign policy actions are increasingly determined by momentary internal objectives, a rational discussion of a possible detente becomes almost impossible. This primacy of the internal over the external becomes more and more obvious, persistent and it stands for a complex challenge.
As the attempts to maintain international dialogue would not stop, two models, known from the recent past we are going to observe. The first one feeds off the legacy of the period immediately after the Cold War when it was believed that cooperation was possible only on the basis of a certain set of values, and compliance with them was regarded as a criterion of success. This is primarily the European approach. The second one revives the Cold War approach: whatever the differences, there is a common responsibility of the USA a RF for strategic stability and therefore they must find areas for fruitful interaction.
The efficacy of the first model is now quite obvious. A dialogue on an ideological basis was possible (but not productive) when all of its participants recognized so called universal principles. The problem in the current dialogue with European partners is that they are following this track by inertia, although no one any longer believes that it will lead somewhere.
There is no and won't be any other option in the foreseeable future, since the possibility of rethinking, at least in Europe, is blocked by the confusion within the EU itself. This explains why there is such an astonishingly scarce variety of policy measures. Threat of sanctions, eventually coming up with purely symbolic measures. They are symbolic because a real confrontation is still problematic due to economic dependence and the lack of consensus.
The situation with the second model is slightly more complex. The sober-minded part of the political establishment naturally understands that some topics require a purely practical approach, not an ideological one. In fact, relations in the field of nuclear weapons and other ways of inflicting serious military damage upon each other need a pragmatic approach. The military remain sensible in this respect, but there is no such guarantee when it comes to politics. Internal political turmoil can intervene at any time. We could observe it by the previous USA administration which held foreign policy hostage to the internal struggle. The present US administration is more traditional in this regard, but the threat of ideological factors spoiling things does not disappear even for a second. The pandemic has reduced personal communication, but when it does happen, one can hardly notice any freshness or pleasure from it. It seems to me that both the narratives and the tools need to be changed, but no one has the will to do so.
With all the know and less known changes in the world it seems that a real meaningful dialogue with Chinese colleagues is not only possible and desirable but that it is already beginning. Previously, they always wore the mask of politeness, evading the discussion of problems, but now the situation forces both of us to talk to the point. Practical issues are already discussed without unnecessary formalities. There is a search for topics and forms of dialogue, which can hardly go on without very concrete discussions. This does not mean that these are always pleasant or easy, but they serve the understanding of different cultures, values and perceptions.
Technology, international relations and diplomacy
Technology has become one of the most important spheres in the race for power in the 21st century. The two main technology ecosystems – the US and the Chinese, both derived from the IT industry in which is used - have clearly taken shape at the end of the second decade of this century. A dilemma for EU and Russia in this regard is whether to join one of the existing ecosystems or develop one of its own or became a cooperating partner.
The global digital revolution has triggered just as radical a transformation in the technological and economic order as it did in social relations and lifestyles, therefore inevitably drive international relations. The companies and the states that master best ideas, services, and practices across these lines set the tone for the rest of the World. Those who fail to meet the challenge, eventually fall under the influence of the leaders or into the modern slavery.
China's significant financial and human resources allow its digital ecosystem to feed on huge resources allocated to the technology areas that the CPC Politburo deems most promising. The Chinese were the first in the world to create an autonomous area of the Internet, building the Great Firewall of China, at the same playing a waiting game and not reacting to provocations. It is just a matter of time before the PRC reaches a market position comparable with that of the USA. It is unlikely that the USA will be able to stop this trend and therefore an increasing number of America's allies, including in the EU, welcome China's proposals for digital cooperation.
Measuring the impact of technology on international relations
The influence of science and technology on international relations has always been in the focus of scholars and practitioners. The already known impacts and patterns set a broad analytical framework that helps distinguish the many roles of science and technology in the international arena and identify areas for further studies as they are analytically distinct and not mutually exclusive. The impact of a particular technology may display different patterns at different times. For instance, the issues it presents may begin as a new crisis and evolve into an obstinate problem needing adequate management.
From the many other topics with relevance to the achievement and experience gained in PRC and which could be considered for an international cooperation I would mention following three:
Global trends in the development of the digital environment
As the continuing blurring of lines between the virtual and the real world and between facts and fakes leads to greater anarchy in international relations, the absence of a common clear-cut framework of categories and concepts in this area is aggravating differences and disputes.
Nation states in the digital world of the future
The attempts of states to protect themselves against foreign digital interferences have a number of consequences which indicate that within the next few years national states will be faced with two important challenges: The first one is their ability to guarantee the viability of their critical information infrastructures under threat of cyberwar and growth of network piracy. The second one is how well the governments understand the principles and methods of ensuring the security of personal data and how they will regulate the turnover of depersonalized big data.
If another state obtains such data, it will be able to create an authentic picture of the economic and industrial development of the state in question, its agricultural vulnerabilities, its epidemiological situation and consumption patterns and adjust its own political, military or economic strategy accordingly.
The importance of the film industry for world politics
Any concept for political power and cultural influence in the 21st century should cover the film industry, a field of activity with a plethora of intertwined economic, political, and cultural factors. Cinema as an industry that produces "meanings" is coupled with the concept of "strategic narratives." The dramatic influence of digital transformation on modern cinematography and the opportunities it opens up for China in creating a new, global streaming services market could enhance and increase the cooperation with some states of the EU.
While in 2005 Chinese cinemas sold 157.2 million tickets, in 2017 ticket sales were already up to above 1.62 billion (UIS Statistics, 2021b). Thanks to the huge volume of the domestic market, Chinese film companies can independently produce big-budget blockbusters for promotion abroad. In this regard, the main tasks are creating a distribution system and infrastructure for film screening (which can be implemented, for example, in conjunction with the One Belt One Road project) and marketing activities.
China is probably the world's only power capable of offering an alternative to Western streaming services (like Netflix and others). This is possible thanks to the presence of large-scale domestic digital media markets and government control over the use of the Internet in the country.
It has been for me personally a great pleasure to observe over years and reflect on the key achievements and experience of the CPC which have been enriching and at the same time bringing fundamental changes not only in the destiny and future of the Chinese people and Chinese nation but also to us in Europe.
Prague, June 22nd 2021