In The Diplomat’s post on Hugo Chavez, Mr James Parker’s closing paragraph warns us of “the dangers of building close ties with a centralized regime based so closely on a single personality”. With the Venezuela’s leader’s death, China may lose its investment in the country as the new leadership takes over. Mr Parker also highlighted why the US is unwilling to invest in China, namely because of “corruption, the negative PR generated from doing business where human or political rights are a serious issue, and often a lack of trust due to recent memories of nationalizations”. These are valid reasons NOT to invest in the country even if Mr Chavez is not distinctly anti-US in the first place.
However, I would like to propose that, with the lack of a stable and institutionalized system, investment onto a single or selected personality may be the only viable option to make things work. What is politics other than the nature of relationships between a group of more than two persons? The Chinese like to use a term, Guan1Xi4 (Relations), which can be loosely mean “networking”.
“Man is by nature a political animal.” Aristotle
In the past, prior to the establishment of the state-nation, city-states send messengers to other city-states for negotiation of trade and war. Much of these negotiation were addressed directly to the head of the city-state and personal emotions and appeal has huge influence in the state relations. The foundation of the Westphalia Nation-State in 1648 has influence over the whole world but, not all states have the structure to effectively carry out the political functions necessary to engage other states.
Without a clearly defined and stable structure, the Chinese concept of ‘Guan1Xi4’ works naturally in order to engage Venezuela in economical activity. This system of engagement is not restricted only to China but many parts of the world which may not have the structure nor history to engage effectively within and out of their nation. A good example would be the nations within ASEAN