The ‘Fujian’ and the New Rules

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

China has announced the readiness of its latest aircraft carrier, known as the “Fujian,” to conduct training exercises involving several new systems installed on board. One of these systems is the “electromagnetic catapult,” which has only been used in the United States.

The Fujian, which is considered the third Chinese aircraft carrier and the most powerful among them, will operate within the operational range of the US Seventh Fleet in the South China Sea, where the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is located. In its response to the capabilities attributed to the Chinese aircraft carrier, Washington accused Beijing of stealing military technology and incorporating it into their carrier. However, Beijing considers this a competition that is not subject to intellectual property laws.

Amid this new Chinese achievement, in a world where all parties are seeking to establish new foundations for their positions and for inter-state relations, the intellectual property rights issue emerges as one of the issues that deserves careful consideration. There is a need to question its origins, and the implications of adherence to it, especially for emerging powers, noting that it is an issue including many systems, laws, tools, and methods designed by a handful of stakeholders. These systems are then exported to countries and peoples worldwide, with an explicit or implicit emphasis on compliance as a fundamental condition for assessing the level of civilization, democracy, and ethics of the concerned party.

The West, whose most important museums are filled with displays containing significant and renowned archaeological artifacts looted from our countries, which they controlled forcefully through arms, armies, and wars, have exported intellectual property laws to all our countries, which require refraining from benefiting from any achievement, invention, or even an idea unless the exorbitant price is paid, mostly to those who own them.

Generally speaking, the West is the beneficiary of this law, because most countries in Asia, Africa, and perhaps South America have not yet realized the importance of registering intellectual property for their tangible or intangible products. Even those who started to pay attention to intellectual property, they face significant difficulties because the procedures and requirements for this registration have been designed in a way that serves Western interests rather than the interests of aspiring countries seeking to achieve higher levels of accomplishment in this field.

What applies to intellectual property also applies to a significant range of ideas and ways of life whose concepts and conditions have been set by the West, who became the sole judge of their performance and behavior.

Thinking about a simple concept such as dedication and commitment to work, we find that the West has raised it to a level of sanctity, emphasizing devotion to long working hours at the expense of family, health, and the community. However, it fails to fulfill the minimum conditions that enable women or men to fully devote themselves to their work and profession in the desired manner.

In Western institutions, you find intense competition to prove loyalty and distinction, even if this comes at the expense of health, family, children, and parents. Everyone is engaged in a rush to prove themselves without stopping to question, “Where is my right to healthcare, childcare, affordable nursery and kindergarten for my children, and schools and universities at low costs in exchange for my dedication to work?“ While dedication to work and optimal performance are desired and important, they should be part of a comprehensive basket that takes into account the quality of a person’s life, his/her happiness, and his/her ability to balance his/her time at different stages of life.

At a moment when the world is reshaping itself based on new foundations and requirements, it is our duty as peoples affected by the judgments, norms, and rules imposed by the West and labeled as “international” to think deeply about them, separate the chaff from the wheat, decide what suits and serves us, taking into account the current time we are living in, as well as our history, geography, culture, and heritage. We should only adhere to what aligns with our interests and future without being dazzled by Western evaluations or being swayed by the status they assign to these norms, which may fundamentally differ from the status we choose to assign to them.

In this regard, an article by the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, published in The Guardian on 6/7/2023, titled “Russia’s war on Ukraine has forced Germany to rethink its role in the world” caught my attention. In the article, Baerbock acknowledged that Germany seized the opportunity presented by the war in Ukraine to break away from its reluctance towards armament and participation in wars, a stance influenced by the aftermath of World War II, and also to enhance its military capabilities through an unprecedented spending package of 100 billion euros. She says: “If we want our shared rules (i.e., Western rules) to govern our world in the future, we must prove their value and provide solutions that serve the needs of our partners. If we fail to achieve that, others who do not share our values will intervene.” She further emphasizes that “the war in Ukraine has opened a new chapter for the West to strengthen its leadership.”

Indeed, the ongoing war in Ukraine and its international implications are not solely about the future of Ukraine itself. It revolves around global leadership and the fate of systems, rules, and values that the West is striving to impose on the world of the future. Meanwhile, Russia, China, India, and the BRICS countries are leading serious attempts to impose new values and independent approaches that serve the interests of these nations and developing countries optimally, far from the West’s insistence on rebranding and exporting its dominance in new attire, but with the same disastrous effects that people and nations have suffered from for centuries.

This historical window opens a free and precious time for all peoples and countries of the world to reconsider all the rules imposed on them, study them from a perspective of pure self-interest, and select what suits them and discard what does not, without apologizing to anyone and without attempting to appease anyone. This is a time that benefits the sincere in their honesty, the diligent in their work, and the determined in their efforts to achieve their own interests and dignity alongside their true and steadfast partners. It is a time to disregard the evaluations and certificates of good behavior issued by the West, as they are designed in the past, present, and future only to serve Western interests, without any consideration for the interests, dignity, and pride of other people all over the world.

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