China: Global Community Of Shared Future? – OpEd


China’s  New Foreign Policy Blueprint for a better world entitled “Global Community of Shared Future” was presented on 26 September 2023. It reflects a new face of China being friendly,accommodative and transparent!The Blueprint projects that it is wrong to assume that strong countries will naturally seek hegemony. It disputes the notion that China will be aggressive because it is growing.

At this juncture I am reminded of a popular Hindi idiom ;“Haathi ke daant khaane ke aur dikhaane ke aur”, the literal translation  is, “The visible teeth(tusks) and the teeth used by an elephant to eat are not the same.”However, the intended meaning of this  idiom is to infer, some being: “External appearances are often deceptive and may not serve the intended purpose” or “A wolf in sheep’s clothing”or “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” or “All that glitters is not gold” or simply “Double Standards and Double Speak”.Foreign Policy presented looks soft and friendly but what is on ground the world knows. Wish China follows the presented policy for its neighbours will be most happy.”Practice what you preach”. “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country: One is by the sword; the other is by debt.”  John Adams

Global Community of Shared Future : “Double Speak”

“China has never accepted that once a country becomes strong enough, it will invariably seek hegemony”.The root of hegemony is an “obsession with superior strength.” Their  Foreign Policy is of “Double Standards and Double Speak.”However,ground realities are different:

  • Influence in Central Asian Republics (CAR). So far Central Asia was geo-strategically significant for Russia  as the region borders Afghanistan and Iran to the South, China to the East, and the Caspian Sea to the West. The Central Asian region was considered Russia’s sphere of influence. as Moscow was also the region’s security provider. Moving shipping containers from China through Russia to the European Union in the past few years had become a vital part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) BRI success story, but the Russia–Ukraine conflict  and the Western sanctions have forced China to search for alternatives.The conflict has acted as a catalyst to expedite the projects through the CAR where the connectivity to the rest of the world was neglected due to difficult terrain. China is extending its influence to CAR and the near future may replace Russian influence and dependency ultimately through their economic power. China is now the first to enter Afghanistan and has established diplomatic relations directly with Taliban by posting their diplomat.So what do we call this? Hegemony in CAR.
  • Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) . “China develops itself not by invasion or expansion but by creating opportunities for itself while creating more development opportunities for the entire world, and not in order to supersede or subjugate others.” the blueprint points out. Examples:Loans given by China turn into debt traps,money given for BRI projects to almost 70 countries is likely to turn into debt threats.China is turning into ‘Shylock’ of the East.BRI with its tarnished image of near total hold on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port and Pakistan’s Gwadar port are glaring examples.
  • The  BRI meeting at Beijing scheduled on 15 Oct is likely to be attended by 152 nations including  Putin.  Xi cannot afford to let his ambitious BRI project fail and if the plan fails, it could be the end of Xi . Xi will pump in  resources to ensure that BRI remains a successful venture. Italy’s reported likely withdrawal plan may set a precedence for a  exit  from China’s global trade and infrastructure initiative, setting the stage for future exits.The current Italian government does not consider its BRI membership to have sufficiently benefited its economy.(Though it may be under pressure from its G7 grouping). “No country should hope for others to fail. Instead, it should work together with other countries for the success of all…,” the document says.But China is proving to be the 21st century ‘Shylock.’ Xi therefore is likely  to make his BRI initiative more attractive in the future. For Xi and BRI’s future it is a wait and watch situation till 15 Oct BRI meeting culminates in the background of China’s  New Foreign Policy Blueprint for a better world entitled “Global Community of Shared Future” which was presented on 26 September 2023.
  • Security deficit  “glaring”. Describing the security deficit as “glaring”, the document lays the blame on the Cold War mindset of some powers.China itself is a power and is bullying its neighbours along the land borders and South China Sea nations.India shares approximately 3500 km of land borders with China.India and China’s strained relationship has been fueled by recent Chinese provocations in Galwan in East Ladakh, including the allocation of names to places in Arunachal Pradesh, denial of visas to Indian media personnel, and President’s statements on preparing for war. These events have led to concerns about China’s intentions and the need for India to be prepared for any eventualities.On China’s approach to international conflicts, the document says that “when neighbours are in trouble, instead of reinforcing one’s own fences, one should extend a helping hand.India still remembers the Chinese slogan of the 60s “Hindi- Chini Bhai Bhai”  meaning Indians and  Chinese are friends and attacked India in 1962 and earlier had occupied Tibet. The recent developments in India-China relations have raised concerns about the possibility of a future conflict between the two nations.“What double standard of double speak!Conflicts and wars produce no winner says the blueprint.”
  • Terrorism: China’s double standard: It calls for democracy in international relations “to make sure that the future of the world is determined by all and calls for an end to the practice of adopting double standards or selectively applying international law.Beijing has repeatedly placed holds and blocks on bids by India and its allies to list Pakistan-based terrorists.The latest example came in June this year when China blocked a proposal by India and the US under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Sajid Mir, wanted for his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, as a global terrorist.
  • China does not seek  overseas  bases. The interesting facet about the usage of double speak for example, China does not seek  overseas  bases. But fact remains China is constructing islands in disputed territory in the South China Sea, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port and Pakistan’s Gwadar port are glaring examples of nearly being taken over. The paper also added that peace, development, cooperation and mutual nown as One Country Two Systems.
  • BRICS grouping Doublespeak are also seen from the state in its pronouncements at the level of  the BRICS  declarations. The BRICS grouping, even though consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa earlier and now with six new members in 2024 will be a grouping of 10. BRICS centers around China which is the eco-diplomatic power of the group. Over the years, the tone in the BRICS declarations has been manipulated to favour the Chinese agenda.Free trade is something that China does not really permit when it comes to imports in to China as revealed by the IMF’s annual report. However, through the BRICS, China signaled to the world that it is building a coalition of emerging markets that seek to defend the current multilateral trade regime in a multi-polar world.

Diplomatic double speak has been an integral component of Chinese foreign policy over the ages.In order to have a better understanding of Chinese foreign policy the Chinese media’s and Chinese military’s statements need to be deciphered of the prevailing conditions  on the ground  to gain a deeper insight of what it may mean of the Chinese double speak practice.Standing at  crossroads, humanity is faced with  confrontation between blocs. The other is to act for the common well-being of humanity, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, advocate openness and win-win results, and promote equality and respect,” the documents points out. 

Preface of the Blueprint: Highly Laudable

“In the universe there is only one Earth, the shared home of humanity. Unfortunately, this planet on which we rely for our subsistence is facing immense and unprecedented crises… Whether human civilization can survive these has become an existential issue that must be squarely faced. More and more people have come to the realization that rather than amassing material wealth, the most pressing task is to find a guiding beacon for the sustainable development of human civilization, because we all care about our future.” Yes we (China) all care about our own future! Wish the Chinese foreign policy follows even 25 percent of what is laid out in the Blueprint world can be at peace and other powers will follow. India also says and practices what all the Chinese paper has said for the future and emphasized the same during  the recent G-20 Summit in Delhi in September 2023. However, the world needs to follow the G-20 Summit theme which India gave the world and China’s  New Foreign Policy Blueprint for a better world entitled “Global Community of Shared Future” says near same if followed: 

“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth · One Family · One Future” – is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad. Essentially, the theme affirms the value of all life –  and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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