Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Des valeurs chinoises ?

BERLIN – Il n’y a pas l’ombre d’un doute raisonnable aujourd’hui que la République populaire de Chine dominera le monde du vingt-et-unième siècle. La croissance économique rapide et le potentiel stratégique du pays, son gigantesque marché domestique et ses énormes investissements en infrastructures, en éducation, et en recherche et développement, ainsi que le renforcement massif de son appareil militaire rendent la chose inéluctable. Sur les plans politique et économique, cela veut forcément dire que nous entrons dans le siècle de l’Asie de l’Est et du Sud-Est.

N’oublions pas que le sort du monde aurait pu être pire si l’ascension de la Chine s’était enrayée. Mais de quoi l’avenir est-il fait ? Nous pouvons prévoir les forces qui façonneront sa géopolitique, mais quelles sont les valeurs qui sous-tendront l’exercice de ce pouvoir ?

La politique officielle des « quatre modernisations » (industrielle, agricole, militaire, scientifique et technologique) sur lesquelles l’ascension de la Chine s’est fondée à la fin des années 1970 n’a pu répondre à cette question, car la « cinquième modernisation », soit l’avènement de la démocratie et de l’état de droit, est encore attendue. En effet, ce dernier volet de la politique de modernisation rencontre une vaste opposition du Parti communiste chinois, qui n’a aucun intérêt à céder le monopole du pouvoir. De plus, la transition vers un système pluraliste qui canaliserait les tensions politiques, au lieu de les réprimer serait éminemment risquée, même si ce risque grandit à mesure que perdurent le régime de parti unique et la corruption endémique qui l’accompagne.

Le rejet idéologique par les dirigeants chinois de tout ce qui touche aux droits de l’homme, à la démocratie et à l’état de droit s’appuie sur l’affirmation que ces valeurs sensées universelles ne sont en fait que le cheval de Troie des intérêts occidentaux. La dénonciation de ces valeurs par la Chine est une simple question de respect de ses propres intérêts. La Chine ne se soumettra plus jamais aux diktats militaires de l’Occident, elle ne devrait donc pas non plus céder aux normes de l’Occident.

Nous devons ici revisiter le concept de « valeurs orientales » conçu initialement par Singapour et la Malaisie. Mais jusqu’à maintenant, après trois décennies, sa signification réelle demeure obscure. En vérité, ce concept a servi à justifier les régimes collectivistes et autoritaires en se lovant dans le giron des traditions et des cultures locales, l’autonomie étant définie en opposition à l’étranger – c.-à-d. en se démarquant de l’Occident et de ses valeurs. Aussi, « les valeurs orientales » ne sont pas des normes universelles, mais plutôt une stratégie de survie qui se sert du jeu politique identitaire.

Vu l’histoire du colonialisme occidental en Asie, le désir de maintenir une identité distincte est aussi légitime que compréhensible, comme l’est le credo dans la plupart des pays d’Asie – mais d’abord et avant tout en Chine – que le temps est venu de régler d’anciennes dettes. Cependant, l’effort pour préserver son propre pouvoir, le besoin d’une identité « orientale » distincte et le désir de régler des comptes historiques ne pourront résoudre la question normative soulevée par l’émergence de la Chine comme puissance dominante du siècle.

La manière dont cette question sera traitée est d’une importance cruciale, car elle déterminera la nature de cette puissance mondiale, et donc la façon dont elle se comportera avec les autres pays de moindre envergure. Un État devient une puissance mondiale lorsque son importance et son potentiel stratégiques lui donnent une portée internationale. Et, en principe, de tels États tentent par la suite de protéger leurs intérêts en imposant leur emprise ; une recette infaillible pour créer de dangereuses tensions si cette hégémonie repose sur la coercition au lieu de la coopération.

L’accoutumance du monde à un ordre hégémonique international – dans lequel l’équilibre était maintenu par des puissances mondiales opposées – a survécu à la Guerre froide. Idéologiquement, l’Union soviétique n’était pas antioccidentale, car le communisme et le socialisme étaient après tout des créations occidentales. L’empire soviétique était par contre opposé à l’Occident sur le plan politique. Il ne s’est pas écroulé uniquement pour des raisons économiques, mais aussi par des comportements collectifs intérieurs et extérieurs fondés sur la contrainte et non le consentement.

À l’inverse, le modèle économique et politique américain, et celui de l’Occident, avec ses droits individuels et sa société ouverte, se sont avérés une arme redoutable pour le dénouement de la Guerre froide. Les États-Unis ont triomphé non pas par supériorité militaire, mais grâce à son pouvoir d’influence, et également parce que les assises de son hégémonie n’étaient pas fondées sur la coercition (même si parfois de telles méthodes ont aussi été employées), mais en grande partie sur le consentement.

Quelle voie la Chine prendra-t-elle ? Bien que la Chine ne renie pas les valeurs de son admirable civilisation millénaire, elle doit vraiment sa renaissance actuelle à son adhésion au modèle contemporain de modernisations à l’occidentale, un immense accomplissement de Deng Xiaoping, qui a mis le pays depuis trente ans sur sa trajectoire actuelle. La question décisive de la modernisation politique reste cependant en suspens.

Il est clair que les intérêts nationaux, et parfois de purs jeux de pouvoir, jouent un rôle dans la manière dont les États-Unis et d’autres pays occidentaux appliquent les valeurs des droits de l’homme, de l’état de droit, de la démocratie et du pluralisme. Mais ces valeurs ne sont pas que de simples façades idéologiques des intérêts occidentaux ; en fait, dans une certaine mesure, elles ne le sont pas du tout. Ce sont vraiment des valeurs universelles, et d’autant plus dans cette ère de mondialisation tous azimuts.

La contribution de l’Asie, et en particulier de la Chine, dans l’évolution de ce cadre universel de valeurs n’est pas encore discernable, mais cela ne saurait tarder lorsque la « cinquième vague de modernisation » déclenchera la transformation politique de la Chine. La destinée de la Chine comme puissance mondiale sera décidée dans une certaine mesure par la manière dont elle résoudra ce dilemme.

Traduit par Pierre Castegnier

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  1. CommentedJakub Słowiński

    Starting with human rights and the rule of law, as early as in the Han dynasty period, in its first phase, sometime before the begining of Christian era in Europe, there was a set of laws developed, which couldn't be changed even by the emperor, of course it applied only to upper classes, but comparing to where was Western civilization in accordance to human rights and the rule of law at that time, Chinese are pioneers. Democracy was actually invented much earlier, in the Warring States period, by Mencius, who said that the emperor should be choosed by the people. Of course, by the people Mencius meant upper classes, but Western democracy started in the same point, chronologically hunreds of years later. And lastly, pluralism, China was always marked by existence of many cliques and parties, struggling with each other in order to achieve more power. Are they not there, because we don't see them in the evening debates? Actually, political establishment in Western countries is more uniform than Chinese, the difference is that Chinese establishment is united in terms of holding power, but divided in terms of views on certain issues, and Western is divided in struggle to gain power, but every time more and more uniform in views in order to be as electable (sorry for a word) as possible.
    Don't blame China it don't want to follow patterns it already checked, because you claim them as universal.

  2. CommentedStephen Pain

    I believe that many of the problems facing China - and there are problems undoubtedly has been due to the country being effectively divided by manufacturing for and against itself. We see today an enormous trade imbalance between China and other countries. Obviously the subprime fiasco and hedging helped to bring about this imbalance. The demand for goods shot up as the apparent liquidity rose. People were using the property equity to buy as if there were no tomorrow. The financial institutions were pumped up to massive bubbles through the repackaging of debt into credit – and their wealth led to an increase of expenditure in the service industry. Added value philosophy reigned supreme as cheap imports were bought from China. So much of manufacturing was now carried out in China – even Veblen goods. The consequence of the speculation in the West was that China had managed to catch up quickly. She was becoming increasingly more technologically advanced. The West had become dependent upon China – a dependency that would be costly to both partners. In the boom years China overheated and her factories were overworked. They were manufacturing for the West and manufacturing their own cheaper products too. In some insane way China was competing against herself. On the one hand she had the Western companies demanding quality (Veblen goods), while on the other hand she sought to manufacture domestic products (Giffen goods) that could in quantity match the quality. In other words you can buy five pair of socks for the price of one quality pair – and in terms of utility, durability, longevity they would be the same, however if we were to examine the corporate social responsibility and green issues, then they are far more costly. Unfortunately, after the economic paradigm shifted from the “added value” philosophy of Starbucks to the Wal-Mart discount approach, there has been a tendency to seek to reduce costs in the Veblen goods, which means that they are being manufactured more like Giffen goods with cheaper materials and their utility, durability and longevity have been effectively compromised, this tying in with the built-in obsolescence of electronic products which have today due to neophilic drives very short lives. The fact the top-end Veblen goods producers have with those in the middle quality range opted to go down the quantitative road has led to a deplorable state of affairs for all concerned.
    The only remedy to help both the West and China is to bring into effect stringent quality controls through taxation. Often pollution taxes had been placed on the manufacturers. Here we can place taxes on products themselves. The idea would be that products which are Giffen goods would not be bought if they were taxed on grounds of utility, durability, longevity as well as CSR and Green factors. This would restore craft into products, ensuring that all involved in manufacture would be of a higher quality. It would also reduce the trade deficit and motivate the West and others to return to manufacturing – and as a result decreasing dependency on China . China for her part would need to reform its manufacturing and the context of production, leading to a better environment and healthier and happier population.

  3. CommentedWalter, asg Benjamin

    I admire Joschka Fischer's articles. However most of the comments on this article and this article itself make a fundamental mistake: China is not "outside" the World History. China belongs to the World History. It is not a country which is different by essence from us. There "Western values" don't exist per se, in opposition of "Chinese values". It is absolutely childish to speak like that. Chinese Revolution in the XXth Century is a Marxist Revolution - the Chinese Marxism is part of the Marxism movement - a way to answer to the problems created by the Industrial Evolution of the XIXth century. A way to re-unify China after one century of diverse foreign occupations. It is a non-sense not to consider the contemporary China as a Marxist state and to pretend that China will be like a "Confucian state" - with an unique nationalistic ideology . Then if it is a Marxist state - it is impossible not to consider China as part of our own History. If we accept that Chinese Communist Party is the center of the power in China, it is risible to think that the discussion about democracy is not central in the Chinese politic. What means "democracy" in the context of the developments of Communist Parties around the World during the last 150 years that is the first question to ask. Second what is the weigh of the Chinese State History in the development of the contemporary Chinese Marxist state? Democracy is not a definition , it is a complex political movement. Of course China has also many parts of her political developments which are often more democratic than many countries in the World which pretend to be democratic. The question is more: is it possible to have a democratic state with one party rule? If this one party represents a large part of the Chinese society - why not? A party of 80 millions member plus their family relations is equivalent of 400 millions people connected to this Party - it is a significant part of the Chinese society. The real question is then: are these 400 millions of Chinese involved in the discussions on the solving Chinese political problems? Probably yes - in a way or another. Are they able to influence the political decisions? Probably yes. Are they able to criticize the wrong decisions, to correct them? Probably yes too. Have we - as Europeans - to learn from the Chinese democracy? Of course we have to learn how they have succeeded during centuries to unify their country when we, Europeans, we have failed to maintain the Roman Empire and we have created during centuries wars and barbaric societies. The Chinese Marxism is a lesson for us to meditate because it forces us to consider that the Capitalism as a destructive and creative force is the main question that our "European democracies " need to manage if we want to avoid that new barbaric political movements will appear and push away our weak civilization.

  4. Commentedlt lee

    It is odd that Westerners keep talking about "these supposedly universal values" while they are not embraced by the Chinese people except a handful of dissidents. If Westerners really believe certain values are universal, why can't they let the Chinese people come to the same conclusion without reminding them constantly? To the extent that they don't have sufficient confidence concerning the universality of these values, Chinese leaders and Chinese people are correct in seeing these values as a mere stalking horse for Western interests promoted to harm China's interest.

  5. CommentedPaulo Sérgio

    It may pause there for sometime. China's rapid ascent is lifting quite a lot more than its own out of dire economic conditions and these can now experience many* of these universal values that they definitely would not have previously experienced. If foreign lands in which China remain open, their people may have more freedoms than the Chinese themselves, but the Chinese are likely to be better with their more limited set, because of this immense focus on development.

    In summary, we're still imposing conditions on China, on what it will achieve and how it will come to achieve.

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