2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
- Chaired by Franziska Plümmer
- Franziska Plümmer, “Lost in Transition: Liminal Citizenship of Border Residents in the Sino-Myanmar Border Zone”
- Siyuan Li, “China’s Soft Power in Africa: A Case Study of China’s Language and Culture Promotion Organisations in Africa”
- Jelena Gledić, “We Go Back a Long Way: Interpreting the Sino-Serbian ‘Iron Friendship’ through Reus-Smit’s Theory on Cultural Diversity”
Franziska Plümmer, “Lost in Transition: Liminal Citizenship of Border Residents in the Sino-Myanmar Border Zone”
The existing literature on border residents largely analyses how territorial articulation of the nation-state coincides with the de facto realities of local residents, or in other words, how the authority of states is subverted, ignored or challenged at the border. This paper takes an alternative view, arguing that the concept of liminal citizenship explains how the notion of sovereignty is not challenged but becomes in fact invigorated at the border. Taking the Sino-Myanmar border as a case study, this article explores local practices of citizenship in the border area, asking how the category of border residents is constructed within the larger Chinese concept of citizenship. To do so, this article investigates the rationalities informing the inherently graduated citizenship regime and the legal and social implications of border residents. The article finds that in Chinese border prefectures, local authorities apply spatial strategies to selectively integrate Myanmar workers into the local economy producing a form of liminal citizenship. This strategy builds on local authorities establishing exceptional immigration rules to allow limited access for this specific group of foreigners. As part of this local legalization, the authorities issue border passes that allow their holders’ unlimited border crossing and qualifies them to obtain working permits. This way, the border zone has become a distinct administrative zone that is subject to exceptional regulation – a border disposition.
Siyuan Li, “China’s Soft Power in Africa: A Case Study of China’s Language and Culture Promotion Organisations in Africa”
Language, culture and other intangible resources are important elements of a country’s power resources. The People’s Republic of China has realised the importance of language and culture promotion overseas and its language and culture promotion organisation (LCPO) – the Confucius Institute – has been attracting the world’s attention since its establishment in 2004. Together with its extraordinary development, there exists a plethora of discussions, debates and research on it, among which the most commonly used term to describe the practical function of the initiative is Soft Power. Although more than 30 countries in the world sponsor a LCPO overseas and China even sponsors another LCPO – the China Cultural Centre (CCC), the focus seems to be on the CI. This article aims to examine the different stages and features of China’s language and culture promotion overseas in the past 70 years, compare the differences between the China’s two LCPOs – the CI and the CCC in Africa, and discuss their roles in promoting China’s national interest overseas in a broader sense of power in international relations.
Jelena Gledić, “We Go Back a Long Way: Interpreting the Sino-Serbian ‘Iron Friendship’ through Reus-Smit’s Theory on Cultural Diversity”
This paper focuses on the changes in discourse on the cultural ties between Serbia and China after the intensification of economic cooperation under the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Empirical data is interpreted through Christian Reus-Smit’s theory on cultural diversity, showing that the examined case is an example of top-down governance of culture in order to facilitate economic and political cooperation, which is likely characteristic of Chinese foreign policy in the given domain.
In the past decade, Serbia has been standing out as the leading partner of China in Central and Eastern Europe in the context of implemented or announced Belt and Road projects. The two countries’ governments state that cooperation is rooted in a close and long-standing Sino-Serbian friendship. However, this research shows that the said narrative emerged or at least significantly intensified only after the start of closer economic cooperation. Being mostly present in the official discourse on the two countries’ cooperation, the notion of the so-called “Iron friendship” between Serbia and China is less a deeply-rooted historical reality and more an example of consciously forging a narrative. The idea of a deep friendship between the two countries has been actively managed and engineered since the start of the Belt and Road Initiative, emphasizing a long history and specific shared experiences, all in line with the presently projected respective national images. The results of this analysis provide lessons for interpreting Chinese foreign policy, international relations and new paradigms of development and order building.
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