A delegation from the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, led by chairman and co-founder Dr Vladimir Yakunin, recently traveled to Beijing to give a series of lectures and address some of China’s foremost experts in the business, research, and policy communities. Below is a summary of the discussions and ideas presented during the trip, which took place 2-4 November.
On 3 November, at the invitation of Hao Ping, chairman of Peking University, Dr Yakunin delivered the keynote speech at the Beijing Forum 2017 to more than 300 experts from the research and academic community who attended the forum.
Dr Yakunin emphasised that neoliberal globalisation has hindered socioeconomic development across many parts of the world. The failure of the neoliberal paradigm to take into consideration factors reflecting inter-civilisational differences has triggered global instability. One of the foundations for the stable development of humanity is its diversity of core values – values which foster harmony between civilisations.
A concrete example of such values, Yakunin continued, is China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. Instead of acting as a dominant force, Chinese leadership plans to involve all participating countries in the ‘New Silk Road’ to benefit from the results of the project. By doing so, diverse civilisational, cultural, governmental, and socioeconomic instruments will be promoted among all countries.
Dr Yakunin concluded by introducing a new concept. Instead of using the term ‘global governance,’ he recommended employing the phrase ‘global civilisational collaboration’, because it denotes such values as equality, diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual respect in fostering a true community of common destiny.
As a result of the ongoing cooperation between the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute and Peking University, which began during the 2015 Beijing Forum, both parties agreed to work closely with each other and signed a Memorandum of Understanding during the visit. Dr Yakunin had the privilege of signing the MoU with Peking University’s Professor Ping, for the purpose of exchanging academic resources, research project ideas, and collaborating for both the Beijing Forum and the Rhodes Forum. Both look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership in the future.
China Investment Corporation
On 2 November, at the invitation of Mr Tu Guangshao, the president of the China Investment Corporation, Dr Yakunin gave a lecture to the company’s management team on the concept of ‘global civilisational collaboration’, drawing from his background as a businessman and as a political scientist. The idea is a three-part collaboration, comprised of national governments, international institutions, and Advocacy Coalition Networks (ACNs).
In a multipolar world, collaborative governance belongs to all nations. But there is a need for leaders to guide the direction of a revised world order. Some countries will need to take on more responsibility for the good of regional and international stability. These countries, Yakunin referred to as ‘voices of civilisation’ or ‘civilisation-states’; the BRICS coalition is a good illustration of this idea. They act with each other and with other states through the mechanisms of shared projects.
The role of international institutions in this collaboration would be as arbiters, which can address issues based not only on the concept the nation-state and national interests. ACNs are the last part of the trifecta. They would include universities, NGOs, think tanks, businesses, etc. ACNs would represent civil society’s interests, and share ownership with national and international governments, and would accumulate the world’s intellectual potential, acting as a ‘checks and balances’ system, resulting in a new level and quality of dialogue.
During the Q&A session, the most discussed topics were dedicated to corporate responsibility and green finance. After the lecture, the DOC RI delegation was invited to meet with Mr Tu Guangshao. During the conversation both sides agreed to continue cooperating on joint research activities in the field of infrastructure development, following the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Beijing Normal University
The same day, by invitation from Professor Biliang Hu, dean of the Emerging Markets Institute and director of the Belt and Road Think Tank at Beijing Normal University, Dr Yakunin delivered a lecture to students and researchers. He addressed issues relating to the role of the infrastructure development in the Euro-Asia region. Before the beginning of the lecture, Yakunin was awarded with an honorary Distinguished Professor degree from the Emerging Markets Institute at Beijing Normal University.
As a visiting professor at Peking University and the head of the State Governance Department, Faculty of Political Sciences at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Dr Yakunin delivered a lecture to the students of the School of Government of the Peking University. He spoke about the two types of power used by governments to exert influence in foreign policy: soft and hard power. Proponents of the soft power theory argue that creating an attractive image of a state and influencing one’s neighbours through culture and ideology is a legitimate way of conducting foreign policy – unlike hard power, which they argue should become a thing of the past. However, soft power is quite often used hand in hand with hard power. Thus, it is clear that even with the proposed differentiation in mind, the world still has to recognise that all power is ultimately the same thing, regardless of the form it takes.
China Soong Ching Ling Foundation
On 4 November, the delegation from the Dialogue of Civilization Research Institute had a meeting with Mr Hang Yuanxiang, executive vice chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation. During the conversation, it was pointed out that people-to-people communication that focuses on culture, youth, and research are the most important factors in the success of international initiatives such as the One Belt, One Road initiative.
The parties agreed to continue cooperation in scientific and public events, including joint work on the agenda for the 2018 Rhodes Forum. The agreed that the goal of the forum is the practical implementation of Global Civilisational Cooperation and fostering peace and sustainable development worldwide.