“The snooker legend, Ronnie O’Sullivan, 42, has applied for citizenship in China because he’s had enough of living in Britain,” the Daily Star reported on 17 June 2018 Sunday.
“ … he said: ‘Have you noticed China like to make friends with other countries? Maybe the UK and America could take a leaf out of China’s books and try this same approach. Just waiting for my Chinese citizenship to come through. Once it’s here I’ll be in China most of the time.’ He added: ‘I’ve got everything over there. It’s my heaven on earth’…”
In Hong Kong, it is not unusual to be told that this or that white man had registered as a citizen here, bearing in mind that this city is part of China. Everyone has his/her own reason(s) to do so, no need to ask why. Something similar is happening on mainland, too. A better known story is Daniel A. Bell’s, owing to his Wall Street Journal article “Why Anyone can be Chinese” in 2017.
However, while race is supposed to be not an obstacle any more nowadays, the main point is whether you like to have a formerly foreign or alien culture to become the foundation of your civic rights and obligations. As China’s non-democratic and illiberal political system has long been despised by the mainstream media and intellectuals in the West, it is therefore undeniably true that cases like Bell and O’Sullivan are indeed curious.
Saying that it is the beginning of a trend is still groundless. Arguing that it is a sign of the “Decline of the West” by making reference to Oswald Spengler, Arnold Toynbee or Pitirim Sorokin may be too fast. Nevertheless, if we think a bit more about or beyond O’Sullivan’s saying that “China like to make friends with other countries”, I suggest we pay a brief visit to a hot topic at the moment, namely, ‘West-vs-Rest’.
I have mentioned this issue by quoting some scholarly studies before but this time, perhaps why a sportsman like O’Sullivan is also upset, it is about the deepening and widening cleavage inside the ‘West’. First, we have Britain-vs-EU, and then we have the quarrels between Western Europe and ‘Central and Eastern Europe’ (CEE).
Countries ranging from Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria to Greece, Austria and Italy on the eastern side are being criticized by their western counterparts harshly inside Brussels. The latest showcases are the G6-vs-Trump, the Italy-France spat over a vessel carrying refugees, and the United States’ withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council today (20 June 2018).
Something like this has been foretold by the Copenhagen School of International Relations. With reference to Chantal Mouffe’s 1994 book, Norwegian political scientist Iver B. Neumann points out that the West’s “liberal thought is powerless in the face of antagonism” [Note 1] because liberalism confuses the concepts of ‘politics’ and ‘the political’.
You claim you respect other people’s liberty and freedom but simultaneously you force other people to act according to your interpretation of liberty and freedom. As a result, you keep on antagonizing the ‘Other’ by firstly demonizing the non-West, and eventually demonizing the intra-West members.
China’s concept of ‘Win-Win’ for International Relations is another type of story, and it seems more and more people around the world have developed a curiosity to know more about it.
See p. 210 in his 1999 book “Uses of the Other: ‘The East’ in European Identity Formation”, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.