Dignity and Respect

Given that strategic communication and strategic interaction is largely a back-and-forth and a give-and-take which largely depends on what the other party is doing, saying, or thinking – all of which can be deciphered and understood without explicit actions, words, and thoughts – it follows that China’s harsh rhetoric vis-à-vis the United States in recent days was a reaction to what many have rightly perceived as a provocation towards China on the part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she decided to visit Taiwan and stir the pot in what is already a complex economic, political, and social situation between Mainland China and Taiwan. To think that Pelosi had “good intentions” would not only be foolish and stupid, but if it were really the case that Pelosi had good intentions, it would not evoke the kind of response we saw from China as a result of her adventurism and mania in recent days. Diplomats, politicians, intellectuals, and scholars who are trained and are acquainted in the psychology of politics are smart enough to know the difference between good intentions and bad intentions.

In turn, China hit the nail on the head in regards to Pelosi’s intentions, as well as the hackneyed talking points regarding democracy and peace which Pelosi sought to evoke on her manic adventure in East Asia. As the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the day before yesterday:

“Many people have hit the nail in their comments about the visit. They pointed out that Pelosi’s dangerous provocation is all about making personal political gains. It is a sheer ugly political farce. In this ugly stunt, democracy has been reduced to nothing more than a cheap tool and a pretext constantly used by the US. While Pelosi is the one staging this grandstanding act, it is the China-US relationship and the peace and stability in the region that are taking the toll.”

In regards to Washington’s fixation and obsession with “democracy,” Chunying added:

“The kind of democracy Pelosi refers to is like nothing but an ornate robe with lice crawling all over it. It might look magnificent from a distance, but couldn’t stand up to close scrutiny. From the Capitol riot, the death of George Floyd, the Robb Elementary School shooting and America’s over a million COVID deaths, we see the hypocrisy and cold-bloodedness of the kind of democracy Pelosi refers to. We see the empty pledge and so-called strength of this type of democracy from what the US military has done in Iraq and Syria and from its retreat from Kabul.”

Chunying also made the obvious point about how Pelosi’s trip was about distracting people from Washington’s loss of credibility and legitimacy around the world, as well as distracting from the failures of the Democrats at home, while even noting a specific case of the partisan divide that has disrupted and paralyzed the American system. Chunying noted:

“Being the number three figure in the US government, Pelosi has been spending taxpayer money and flying to Taiwan on US military aircraft to pull a political stunt, while problems with US democracy keep piling up. Her behavior of violating the international law and basic norm in international relations and jeopardizing other countries’ internal affairs, sovereignty and territorial integrity would only open up people’s eyes about the hypocrisy and ugliness of the US and further bankrupt the US’s credibility as a country. As US Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Greene has tweeted, Pelosi is “not staying in America and solving problems afflicting our people” and she is “obsessed with her own power she’s held for decades while our entire country crumbles … enough with this fake ‘courage’ defending democracy.”

And if legacy and reputation matter to Pelosi, her trip to East Asia did nothing to improve her reputation and legacy. Rather, the trip will most likely go down in the history books as a “manic” and “dangerous” stunt that could have jeopardized international peace and security. As Chunying said:

“I would also like to remind Pelosi that she is pitting herself against a nation with one-fifth of the world’s population and making a provocation to the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. People will not be fooled. Public opinion cannot be defied. Will Pelosi go down in history with a favorable or foul reputation for her stunt? I’m sure history will give a fair answer.”

As mentioned before, arrogance, narcissism, colonialism, imperialism, and hegemony are now an obsolete and outdated attitude and mindset more than anything else. And as the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman subtly noted yesterday: “There would be a problem if someone follows the mindset of over a century ago.” Hence, more than anything, the business, communication, diplomacy, politics, social activism, and social interactions of this day and age are more about garnering dignity and respect and being made visible and heard rather than garnering money and power. People are simply tired of being ignored and being made invisible by the status quo powers, especially when globalization and technology now provide a platform for people to be heard and to be made visible. The arrogant, narcissistic, colonial, imperialistic, and hegemonic attitude and mindset which certain individuals and groups seek to perpetuate is based on the false idea and notion that the universe revolves solely around a White European. But what this attitude and mindset overlooks is that somewhere around 90 percent – if not more – of the world’s population is non-European. And as Francis Fukuyama wrote, there is more to the business, communication, diplomacy, interaction, politics, and social activism of this day and age than just material gain:

“But as important as material self-interest is, human beings are motivated by other things as well, motives that better explain the disparate events of the present. This might be called the politics of resentment. In a wide variety of cases, a political leader has mobilized followers around the perception that the group’s dignity had been affronted, disparaged, or otherwise disregarded. This resentment engenders demands for public recognition of the dignity of the group in question. A humiliated group seeking restitution of its dignity carries far more emotional weight than people simply pursuing their economic advantage.”

Hence, what makes the status quo powers nervous and unsettled is that the strategic communication and strategic interaction of this day and age and thus the business, diplomacy, politics, and social activism on the part of many non-white peoples of this day and age is aimed at garnering the dignity and respect from the status quo powers which the status quo powers are largely incapable of rendering.

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