Index > Briefing
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Ideology is Politics, Not Geopolitics

With Covid-19 affecting everyone, the world that we live in is growing more chaotic by the day. For the past two years, anti-globalization sentiments have caused a destructive impact on the old world order (i.e. the global order). Now, as pandemic-induced losses continue to grow, so does the differences and conflicts between countries become more widespread, escalated even. The world sees many countries pointing fingers at one other, whilst losing all sense of diplomatic decency.

China is where the first Covid-19 outbreak occurred. It is also one of the few socialist countries in the world. These two factors make China a natural focus in the current global conflicts. When discussing the origins of SARS-CoV2 and compensation towards the losses of other countries, China often becomes the center of criticism. This shows China’s geopolitical environment is suffering, as most Western display a “shared animosity” against China, given China adopt a different ideology that clashes with nations in the West.

Right now, what people would like to know is if China’s ideology was what brought on the growing geopolitical pressure to the country. A large number of people within China would probably believe in that, since Western countries have imposed political suppression on China for ideological reasons. Such a view is ubiquitous in China, which causes many Chinese to believe this may be the case.

In actuality, ideology is quite different from geopolitics. Quoted from an ANBOUND internal discussion, chief researcher Chan Kung’s words were – “Ideology is politics, not geopolitics.”

Ideology is a philosophical category that refers to the sum of ideas, viewpoints, concepts, ideas, values and other elements of things. Simply put, ideology refers to values and ideas. The term has been used to divide sides. Take the historical “Iron Curtain” from Cold War that divided the world into two camps. In essence, China and the West are having ideological conflicts as well. In China, the Communist Party of China holds the power. Meanwhile. Western countries pride themselves for being "democratic countries."

People have gotten used to such division based on ideology, and it is widely seen from news to the media, and to a variety of articles. That said, it is rare to see people conduct an in-depth study on the topic. To explore the root cause and rationale for such division. Instead, most people subscribe to the division instinctively.

Again, Chan Kung pointed out that ideology is political in nature, though it is not geopolitics. Ideology is a collection of values and ideas. People who share similar values come together and form political factions and groups, and such political formations are often led by an ideology. To quote an example, the right wing in the United States is not entirely white, there are people of all ethnic groups in it, including the Chinese. They all hold the same values, they form a group together, and they are against people and groups with conflicting values. They do not care for the country that these people and groups with conflicting values come from, and their objection is simply caused by a difference in values. This is no different from religious conflicts, where much hatred arises due to different faiths.

Geopolitics is a different story. As its name implies, geopolitics is politics at its core, yet it is confined within the framework of geography too, another scientific system. Ideology is a subset of geopolitics, even one of the driving factors, but it is not the only factor to affect it. Additionally, geopolitics serves the country rather than its values and ideals. It is for this reason that President Richard Nixon of the United States ignored opposition voices within his country and secretly visited China, which became the foundation to the establishment of diplomatic relations between People’s Republic of China and the United States. That time, many who share the same ideology in the United States opposed Nixon's actions. However, national interests dictated that Nixon must visit China to win a geopolitical victory.

So, geopolitics and ideology are not one and the same. Chan Kung further explained that geopolitics only considers ideological factors in terms of power selection, and only pays attention to multiple influences in geography and space. Geopolitics is a must-have science for every country. Its purpose is to dominate the geopolitical field, not serve ideological groups. Likewise, studies that place geopolitics under certain ideological frameworks will often fail. This is because such predetermined conditions are set to "ignore" a large number of facts, therefore the results obtained will not be factual and only produce a variety of "academic freaks."

As a senior geopolitical scholar, Chan Kung states the lines between ideology and geopolitics are often being confused. This is true not only in China, but in the United States too. When a Chinese scholar visited the United States and talked about U.S.- China relations, the scholar warned the Americans that the United States would suffer should the country targeted China. That resulted in an American official replying that he could not care less. For Chan Kung, the reply signifies a typical confusion between ideology and geopolitics, deciding and acting based on ideology rather than geopolitics. In fact, this has happened in the United States many times. McCarthyism prevailed in the 1950s, where American politics was overshadowed by ideology. As a result, the United States lost geopolitical interests. History shows that when such moments appear, the results and outcome will turn ugly.

Today, the relations between the United States and China have soured greatly, and McCarthyism’s shadow is growing bigger than ever. In American politics, views and policies are now mainly based on ideology, and there has been a series of words and actions against China. From a geopolitical standpoint, such a situation will certainly damage China's interests, and it is definitely not in line with the U.S.’ greatest interests.

Final analysis conclusion:

Ideology is politics, not geopolitics. It is a collection of values and ideas while geopolitics is scientific analysis based on geopolitical framework. When U.S.- China relations suffer due to ideological factors, it is in the long-term interests of the relevant parties that they maintain calm geopolitical analysis to make decisions.

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