Says China is benign and accommodative while its adversaries are not
China’s State Council Information Office has released the country’s blueprint for a better world entitled “Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions”.
Presented on September 26, the document projects a benign, accommodative and progressive image of China, contrasting it with its adversary countries which are dubbed hegemonic and narrow-minded.
However, no adversary has been named in the document.
The document says 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.
“There is no iron law that dictates that a rising power will inevitably seek hegemony. This assumption represents typical hegemonic thinking and is grounded in memories of catastrophic wars between hegemonic powers in the past.”
“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, and the zero-sum mentality” the document points out.
It says that China is not in the hegemonic league because it “understands the lesson of history – that hegemony preludes decline.”
“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.”
Further, “the strong preying on the weak is not a way for humans to coexist. If the law of the jungle is imposed on human society, and the idea that might is right prevails, the principle of sovereign equality will be fundamentally undermined, and world peace and stability will be severely endangered.”
Making a strong pitch for globalization, the document says that “globalization is not an option, but is the reality and the way of life in a highly interdependent and interconnected world.”
Describing the “winner-takes-all” mind set as the “law of the jungle,” the document says that the way forward is “inclusive development for the benefit of all.”
“Certain countries still cling to the zero-sum game and blindly pursue monopolistic advantages but this will do nothing for their development over the long run.”
“No country should hope for others to fail. Instead, it should work together with other countries for the success of all. This is an integrated world. Those who turn their back on it will have no place in it,” the document says.
Decrying protectionism, including “de-coupling and de-risking” from China, the document says that such raising of walls will halt globalization.
The artificial walls thus created, coupled with the pandemic, resulted in the Human Development Index declining for the first time in 30 years.
“The world’s poor population has increased by more than 100 million, and nearly 800 million people live in hunger,” the document says.
Describing the security deficit as “glaring”, the document lays the blame on the Cold War mindset of some powers who have revived ideological warfare.
“Some countries’ hegemonic, abusive, and aggressive actions against others, in the form of swindling, plundering, oppression, and the zero-sum game, are causing great harm,” the document says and points out that non-traditional security challenges, including terrorism, cyber-attacks, and transnational crime, have increased.
The panacea for these ills is in a drastic change in approach.
“Standing at a crossroads, humanity is faced with two opposing options. One is to revert to the Cold War mentality that deepens division and antagonism and stokes 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.
Stressing the need to accept the diversity of systems, the document says that the goal should not be to replace one system or civilization with another. Instead, it should be about countries with different social systems, ideologies, histories, cultures and levels of development coming together to promote shared interests, shared rights, and shared responsibilities in global affairs.
Non-recognition of diversity goes hand in hand with isolationism and exclusivism which run counter to the multipolar trend, the document argues.
It calls for democracy in international relations “to make sure that the future of the world is determined by all, that international rules are written by all, that global affairs are governed by all, and that the fruits of development are shared by all.”
It points out that acceptance of diversity leads to mutual learning which gives an impetus to human progress.
It calls for an end to the practice of adopting double standards or selectively applying international law.
Calling or a joint approach to problems, the document says: “Viewed from a country-first perspective, the world is small and crowded, and locked in fierce competition; but viewed from the perspective of a shared future, the world is vast and full of opportunities for cooperation. No country can overcome global development challenges on its own. Cooperation among all countries is the only viable option.”
Development is sustainable only when it is inclusive, it adds.
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. As challenges often take on global dimensions, it is all the more important for countries to cooperate in addressing them, turning pressure into motivation and crises into opportunities.”
Citing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an example of meaningful cooperation, the document cites a World Bank report which says that if the projects are implemented, trade between BRI countries trade will increase by 4.1%.
And by 2030, the BRI will generate US$1.6 trillion in annual global revenues.
Among the successful BRI projects cited in the report are: the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; the China-Laos Railway; the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway (reaching a speed of 350 km an hour); the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway; and the China-Europe Railway Express.
In addition to the BRI, China has set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to fund hundreds of projects
As regards China’s Global Development Initiative (GDI) the document says that more than 100 countries and international organizations have expressed support for it, and over 70 countries participated in the Group of Friends of the GDI at the UN.
Through the Global Security Initiative (GSI) presented in 2023, “China seeks to work with the international community in upholding the spirit of the UN Charter.”
The GSI calls for “changes in the international landscape through solidarity, addressing traditional and non-traditional security risks and challenges with a win-win mind set, and creating a new path to security that features dialogue over confrontation, partnership over alliance, and win-win approach over the zero sum game.”
Declaring China’s belief in peaceful negotiations to settle disputes, the document says that Beijing has settled land boundary issues with 12 of its 14 neighbours and delimited the maritime boundary in the Beibu Bay with Vietnam.
China’s has offered a blueprint for a political solution to the Ukraine Crisis and mediated between Saudi Arabia and Iran successfully.
On the controversial maritime security issue, the document says that China has proposed a “maritime community of shared future” concept and is “committed to the peaceful resolution of territorial sovereignty and maritime issues and interests through dialogue and consultation.”
Further, China has signed and fully and effectively implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with ASEAN countries, and continues to advance consultations on the code of conduct in the South China Sea.
China has proposed to jointly build a partnership on Blue economy and strengthen maritime connectivity. The document says that China adheres to the path of pursuing joint development while setting aside disputes, and is actively exploring joint resource development with its maritime neighbours.
(The article was published in Counterpoint)