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The Choice of Paradigm of Political Game for Russia (Z. Brzezinski’s Chess or XiJinping’s Draughts)

Nikonov SB*, Belenkova TV, Smetanina SI, Letunovskii VP and Maryina LP

Saint-Petersburg State University, 199034, St-Petersburg,Universitetskaya naberejnaya 7/9, Russia

*Corresponding Author:
Sergey Borisovich Nikonov
Saint-Petersburg State University, 199034
St-Petersburg, Universitetskaya Naberejnaya 7/9, Russia
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: May 05, 2016; Accepted date: June 20, 2016; Published date: June 24, 2016

Citation: Nikonov SB, Belenkova TV, Smetanina SI, et al. The Choice of Paradigm of Political Game for Russia (Z. Brzezinski’s Chess or Xi Jinping’s Draughts). Global Media Journal 2016, S3:04

Copyright: © 2016 Nikonov SB, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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The article is concerned with an element of information strategy – noopolitik, adopted by People's Republic of China. To use it internationally China starts reform, which implies building law-based state. Paradigm shift is caused by the fact that China joined the group of powers forming political agenda; in order to do it China will need judicial ground. Analysing speeches by PRC leaders and materials of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, one can make a conclusion that PRC is ready to advocate its interests in different ways including military one.


Noopolitik; China; Information strategy


At the end of the 20th century, World Politics became an academic discipline studying current and forming world map. Scholars try to forecast how world order will form. Which of political actors will remain at the helm of geopolitics, whose strategic plans will be implemented, and what places in the future world will be occupied by countries and state associations whose authority is perfect nowadays. Events that happened on the world stage in early 2000s make actors reconsider current political processes. These processes are regarded by political actors as the opportunity to get dividends for efforts spent on forming political map of the world.

Paradigm of bipolar world proclaimed by the Soviet Union and the United States of America seemingly disappeared with the collapse of the USSR. The USA declared themselves the winners of the cold war [1] and, consequently, ensured their right to disseminate their moral values. An American political scientist Francis Fukuyama described the period after the collapse of the USSR as “the end of history” at which the only correct order prevailed, the one characterized by free market, liberal ideology, universal human rights and mature democracy [2]. Russian behavior on the world stage gave reason to make a conclusion that Russia knelt down before the stronger competitor. Actually, it was much more complicated. Russia knelt down not to admit its defeat, but rather to “pray” before the battle Russia was not going to lose.

However, having risen from its knees, Russia faced not political monster represented by the United States, but rather the same bipolar system of world order. The Soviet Union was replaced by People's Republic of China on the world stage. Taking into consideration that the Soviet Union and then Russia always regarded China as a partner whose interests were not in conflict with Russia’s interests, it was easy enough for them to carry on negotiations and to develop common strategy of actions on the world stage.

Nobody has illusions that there is no controversy between Russia and People's Republic of China, but mentality and understanding each other’s actions will eliminate this controversy sooner or later.

We will regard the state of affairs as seen by Russian users of media during the period when Russia restored its place among great powers.

Well-known American political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski, considered in Russia to be the ideologist of shaping strategy on removing Russia from political stage, offered US administration certain moves directed at implementation of his plan.

Unlike Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chinese leader Xi Jinping suggests measures preventing penetration into China political and economic ideas capable of damaging the country. Unlike Russia of the end of the 20th century, the Chinese analysed US political elites’ actions towards Russia and have no intention to make gross political mistakes.


The following scientific methods were used in current research: political planning and prognosis methods, retrospective and comparative political analysis, flow-oriented model, content analysis, discourse analysis, perception analysis method.

Political planning and prognosis methods imply writing prognostic scenarios on developing international relations depending on information received from media.

Retrospective and comparative political analysis involves studying American and Asian experience of using international information in world history and world politics.

Building models and studying practices of making political decisions in the process of forming international relations.

Technique implying textual information analysis (content analysis) involves analysis textual information (speeches, press releases, interview with political figures and participants of international meetings), attempts to reveal true motives of political leaders’ behavior and their statements.

Discourse analysis determines how to distinguish between notions within conceptual apparatus of the research and how to construct the definition of the term noopolitik.

Semiotic analysis suggests studying perception of valuable information by various political actors depending in national, ethnic and cultural belonging.

Research Findings


The principal finding of the research is the conclusion that China like USA is building its own information strategy which corresponds with attributes of noopolitik definition. Noopolitik is understood as information strategy of manipulating international processes through forming public opinion by means of mass media i.e. positive or negative attitudes towards foreign and domestic policy of a state or a block of states in order to create positive or negative image of ideas and advocated moral values [3]. The term noopolitik was coined by American scholars. But their definition is following: “Noopolitik is foreign policy behavior and strategy for the information age that emphasizes the shaping and sharing of ideas, values, norms, laws, and ethics through the exercise of persuasive soft power rather than traditional military hard power” [3,4].

Noopolitik strategy of manipulating political processes in the Soviet Union and later in Russia was developed on American political scientist Brzezinski’s proposal and under his control. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “chess strategy” is developed in his works. “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives” is his most famous book. Zbigniew Brzezinski supposed that US Monroe Doctrine was directed not at the rival, but rather at the ally. Zbigniew Brzezinski did not consider Europe to be US rival, whereas James Monroe supposed that strong Europe is a threat to the United States of America. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Europe is probably unable to compete with the US in economic realm; it will take a long time for it to achieve the level of unity enabling it to enter political competition with American colossus [5].

Anyway, Zbigniew Brzezinski and James Monroe spoke of rivalry between the East and the West. One of them considered the East to be Europe, the other one supposed it to be the Soviet Union (Russia) and the countries of the socialist camp. After the collapse of the USSR, the fight started on the Grand Chessboard of Eurasia: it was the fight between forces trying to increase US influence in Eurasia and forces doing their best to expel American influence from Eurasia. Russia was not permitted to participate in this geopolitical game. Z. Brzezinski wrote in 1997: “The ultimate objective of American policy should be benign and visionary: to shape a truly cooperative global community in keeping with long-range trends and with the fundamental interests of humankind. But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America” [6].

To make correct political decisions directing its behaviour on the world stage, the Russian Federation has to take into account what is happening in the world and how such great powers as the USA and China perform.

Russian-American relations have long been studied in detail by scholars, including modern ones. American political elites’ actions are directed at achieving the following result: Putin’s isolation and diminishing his prestige among Russian electorate. US media even raise an issue about Russian president’s future fate by analogy with Caddafi's one.

If US geopolitics is identified by politicians with chess in which the position in which the main player's piece – the king is threatened with capture is considered to be the victory; whereas Chinese foreign policy reminds the game of draughts not in its classic version, but rather in its Chinese variant known in Japanese as “Go” or as “Weiqi” in Chinese.

Each player has 180 game pieces or stones. The two players take turns to place stones on any intersections of the board, trying to secure more space on the board, simultaneously seeking to encircle and capture competitor’s stones. Multiple battles take place in different parts of the board. The balance of powers is changed as the game unfolds and players realise their strategic plans and react to each other’s initiatives [7].

Thus, Russia faces the picture of grand chessboard on which two rivals play different games according to different rules. They are unified by the fact that both of them occupy some space in the world.

Chinese idiosyncrasy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has expressed the position of People's Republic of China. While the Soviet Union yielded to ideological penetration of “democratic freedoms”, People's Republic of China is determined to defend its right to keep the system which has led the country to the club of great powers

In our opinion, the main mistake in attempting to understand China made by the USA and Russian political elite is the lack of understanding that socialism exists in China, though has its special Chinese characteristics. It seems that politicians do not hear, or, alternatively, hear but misunderstand what the Chinese leader says. Because he speaks in Chinese and is reluctant to speak in English or Russian to be understood by American and Russian readers, listeners and users. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics was born out of new era of reform and opening up. It will develop and acquire power under these conditions” [8,9]. The West’s and China’s understandings of reforms and opening up are absolutely different. Seeing mistakes made by the USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev who opened up the USSR for the West and fully trusted promises made by political leaders, first of all by US leaders, China is not ready to sacrifice the prosperity of its people; therefore, openness of Western countries is greeted in China, but reforms will be carried out according to the Chinese scenario.

Now, when globalization of economy increases and total state power competition exacerbates, international situation is becoming more complex and changeable, China needs, if to get to the heart, to rely on the same reforms and the same openness in order not to miss the chance and face challenges as well as pursue new and more large-scaled development goals. If one does not go forward in the course of fierce international competition, the one will be brought back as a boat which goes against the current [10].

Chinese leadership consider the necessity to control over information sector to be a key component of promoting reforms in China. Chinese leadership understand that the Internet expansion is not only the good providing citizens with capability of obtaining information, but is the field of ideological fight as well. There are 600 million Internet users in China, 460 million people use mobile Internet. Xi Jinping formulated his opinion on the necessity of work on the Internet: “I suppose that due to the necessity dictated by development of the situation, the most important part of propagandistic-ideological work is the one concerned with shaping public opinion via the Internet… Many people, especially the youth do not use leading media but rather learn lion’s share of information from the Internet. We need to understand the facts and make more efforts to take the initiative on this battlefield for public opinion – we can’t afford to be thrown on its edge.”

In other words, the Chinese leader reminds that explanatory work on politics needs to be conducted among the population. In our opinion, this means that authorities need to return to unjustly taken out from circulation terms “agitation” and «propaganda». Chinese leadership’s experience in modern conditions demonstrates that in current political system there are still alive ideas about propaganda of proclaimed values; this propaganda existed in the Soviet times and seemed senseless and having no relation to reality then.

Having lost ideology and then associated with it conceptual apparatus, the country prepared the ground for all kinds of revolutions for which any actions by Russian leadership can be the pretext.

Learning the Chinese experience of ideological work one may conclude that in modern democracies various ideologies exist in constant fight for influence over minds. This may mean that electorate which comes under the manipulative influence of speeches and texts obtained via media, is capable of changing the political system of existing state.

Chadaev notes that “it is exactly why, party, ideological, and agitation work in democratic society must be conducted on much more responsible and professional level. People who do political work cannot afford to use empty and meaningless formulae in their speeches…” [11].

American-Chinese relations will hardly change during the next decade. The principal controversy between them is the fact that the USA still officially recognizes Taiwan government. However, modern political conditions may enable China to return the island under the Chinese banner peacefully. Everything will depend exactly on the activity of Chinese propagandists and agitators.

According to Xi Jinping, “it is necessary to intensify the efforts on increasing communication capabilities on the world stage, to master new methods of conducting propaganda internationally, to strengthen constructing discourse system. It is necessary to work at creating new, acceptable both for the Chinese and foreigners concepts, categories, wordings; to explain well everything concerning China, to spread China’s voice, to strengthen our right of speaking on the world stage” [12].

The path of Chinese reforms

Controversy between China and the USA concerning the issue of recognition of Taiwan and other regions of mainland China, and controversy over Japan’s position as the state which killed millions of Chinese people and claims from China territories acquired by China as a result of the Second World War, do not permit these two great powers to achieve political compromise.

The Chinese stance was expressed at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The Chinese leadership suppose that it is necessary to assert legally the “One-China principle” and to oppose to “Taiwan independence”, to strengthen common understanding that both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single China, to stimulate peaceful reunification. It would be a mistake to assume that China does not see attempts to interfere in its domestic affairs. As for three problematic territories (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), the Chinese government warns without naming states, that China will resist the attempts to destabilize Hong Kong and Macau. One of the theses mentioned at the plenary session was one on the necessity to guarantee the implementation of the policy “One Country, Two Systems” by the law and foster the reunification of the motherland.

Modern China having proclaimed commitment to the way of reforms, turned to shaping respect for written regulations in the Chinese people. Earlier, the Chinese legal system was assessed by lawyers as a system of traditional law, but in 2014 the Chinese government decided to build rule-of-law state.

Traditional Chinese conception does not renounce the law, but implies that it is good for barbarians who do not care about morality, for incorrigible criminals, and finally, for foreigners who are alien to the Chinese civilization. According to the legend, the law (fa) was invented by barbarian people the Miao in the 23d century B.C.; then the God exterminated the people. The Chinese people do well without the law. People are not interested in the norms contained in the law, do not go to court, but rather regulate interpersonal relations in a way suggested by common sense, following not to the law, but rather to agreement and harmony. This harmony can easily be restored because the Chinese are brought up in a way that they do not look for the cause of conflict in adversary’s ill will or failure, but rather in their own mistakes. In the environment where everybody is ready to admit their mistakes, people are easily made ready for concessions and agree for intermediary’s interference; fear of community’s disapproval can make this agreement forced. A range of factors intensifies animosity to the law. Among them there are poor condition of justice organization which is ignored by the authorities.

In the 7th century emperor Kangxi openly stated: The number of court wrangles will necessarily increase if people are not afraid to take legal actions because of hopes to find justice though them…Half of our subjects will not be enough to settle the arguments between the other half. That is why, I demand to treat people who take legal action mercilessly so that they feel aversion towards the law and tremble with fear at the very thought of appearing before the judge” [13]. The official whose duty is to administer justice is quite far from court wrangle participants, as according to the common rule, he is invited from other province to occupy his position and therefore, is poorly familiar with local customs and dialect. There is a Chinese saying “Win your lawsuit, and lose your money”.

Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China made a decision that this situation needs to be changed. Virtually each thesis formulated at the plenary session covered legal problems.

It is important to prepare highly-qualified specialists in law;

To intensify forming the groups of fellows who will provide legal services;

It is necessary to renew the mechanism of training human resources in law;

It is necessary to improve the level of law-based thinking in the party apparatus members and their ability to work according to the law;

It is necessary to push further law-based army governance and run the army strictly according to the law;

China needs to strengthen legal work in the international relations;

These main theses demonstrate that in current conditions despite public attitude towards the law, China, in fact, carries out legal reform. The Russian Federation also declared such reform, however, according to experts, its progress was stopped.

Methods which China is going to use for realization of proposed tasks are of interest.

China suggests introducing the system of centralized publication of all legal documents that come into force and open access to them.

Chinese suggestions on gradual introduction of the system in which lawyers as agents of interested sides are responsible for reclaiming petitions in response to verdicts and decisions made by judicial bodies. Those who can not hire lawyers in order to appeal must be included in the category of citizens who have the right to obtain legal assistance. At the same time, it is proposed to regulate the publication of information on court cases in the media in order to avoid the influence of the public on justice, as well as to regulate the communication between law enforcement service officials and litigation sides, lawyers, persons specially related to the case, and mediation organizations.

It is suggested to include legal advisors in the army governing bodies of all levels. Its aim is to provide legal advice including the one before the beginning of military operations.

This suggestion means that the People's Republic of China announces that military provocations which occur periodically at its borders will not remain unanswered, and that Chinese soldiers and officers will be able to justify their actions by the norms of international law.

At the same time, China's bureaucracy is warned that those who will not obtain legal education, may soon lose their jobs. It was put carefully in the following terms: compliance with the law and law-based work are necessary to make the main content of the personnel certification; under equal conditions to promote the members of staff with better legal education and better abilities to work according to the law. It is necessary to criticise the personnel having inclination to using privileges and weak legal consciousness; if they do not change their behavior, they must be sacked from top positions.

When China came to international political market it faced the necessity to study international law and therefore, the Chinese government formulated a task to form the cohort of professionals with specialization in international law, including experts in norms of international law and professionals capable of running the cases involving foreigners. But Chinese idiosyncrasy determines that these teams of well-qualified lawyers and other professionals must strongly maintain political stance, must have good knowledge of theoretical basis and have to be well familiar with Chinese realities.


According to Afanasieva “as for research by Chinese scholars in the Chinese language, it is worth mentioning that the Chinese approach to studying historical events is considerably different from the European one. Lots of books in history and economics have been published in China, but they do not provide the reader with the complex account of the sequence of events, directions of policy in various sectors of economy and this policy results. The idiosyncrasy of the Chinese approach is to represent data about the initial point of development, its ending date and praise the Chinese Communist Party for devotion in serving the Chinese people. Relatively recently the Chinese started to apply the European analytical approach which implies analysing preconditions of events and measures resolving the situation, as well as making conclusions about possible consequences; adoption of this approach is possibly associated with emerged opportunity to analyse state policy and to express opinion on it, as well as with application of Western approach to analysis of economic processes” [14]. That is exactly why, all data obtained from China become the subject of studying and analysis for European Political science. The book by Henry Kissinger “On China” is available to American political scientists as a manual [15]. This work by the American diplomat can be considered a manual for those who start studying the Chinese politics, however, modern China is very much different from the country described in this publication. Besides, there was no discussion of the stated theses in world academic literature outside China because of short period since the theses were formulated and difficulties associated with their translation into the foreign languages. The following Russian scholars analysed the problem: Baichik [16], Bykov [17], Georgieva [18], Danilova [19], Kurysheva [20], Labush [21], Nikonov [22], Bekurov [19], Puyu [23-25], however, Russian scholarly research lacks the papers on reforms in the People’s Republic of China.


Having processed the data from media, academic research, official sources on made and implemented political decisions, we can conclude that shaping information strategy by China is associated with its reforms. In different periods attempts to forecast further development of China at least for the following decade invariably failed. This article does not have the aim to predict what China will be like 10 years later. Collecting information on tasks formulated for the people by the Chinese leadership and following political situation both in China and on the world stage, one may analyse validity and understand the vector of the way of development chosen by China. Further research of the reform developments will enable scholars to find out special properties of shaping information strategy applied by China.


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