Beijing is offering an alternative to what it sees as Washington’s insistence on a US-led world order, analysts say, after a column in People’s Daily outlined China’s “new world view” and “new possibilities” for the international community.
On Sunday, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece launched a diplomacy-focused column titled “Progression of a Major Country’s Diplomacy”, amid week-long celebrations for the 73rd anniversary of the People’s Republic.
“China has always advocated the practice of real multilateralism and promoted the democratisation of international relations,” the article said, describing the country as “a key force in maintaining world peace”.
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The use of the term “real multilateralism” was Beijing’s way of indicating that it believes Washington’s version of it is “misleading”, according to Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based international relations analyst who specialises in multipolarity.
“According to Beijing, Washington envisages closed groups of countries that cooperate in a way that could complicate the interests of third parties and thus violates the spirit of the United Nations Charter,” said Korybko, who is the author of The Law Of Hybrid War: Eastern Hemisphere.
He said that by urging a “democratisation of international relations” Beijing was reflecting its view that Washington is “anti-democratic” in pressuring developing countries in the Global South to change their models of governance, which were culturally and politically specific.
“It’s a veiled reference to China’s consistent stance that the US imposes its will onto others at their expense, such as by adding political strings to economic, financial, humanitarian, and sometimes even security – particularly anti-terrorist – cooperation,” said Korybko, adding that while Washington tacitly implemented regime change, China supported “regime reinforcement”.
“Beijing is against external pressures influencing the process of reforms, which it believes must always be driven by exclusively domestic initiatives, such as new social contracts reached in peaceful agreement between the government and the governed without any foreign influence.”
“China actively promotes the construction of a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation, explores new models of state-to-state exchanges, and actively builds global partnerships,” the column said.
“China advocates for the common values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom for all mankind, which transcend the historical limitations of the so-called universal values.”
Beijing has “for years” intended to challenge Washington’s world view, and now has the certainty to do so, according to Mohammadbagher Forough, a research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, a Hamburg-based think tank.
“The pattern is that China now feels confident enough as a rising power to ... as Beijing might frame it, correct the declining unipolar hegemony by reminding everyone of the way in which the UN Charter envisages international relations,” said Forough, who is a part of the institute’s World Order Narratives of the Global South project.
“Another aspect [other than challenging the US-led global order] is to introduce a more ‘inclusive’ concept of international relations which is more so based on ‘development’ and ‘common interests’.
“President Xi Jinping’s vision is a world order developed based on ‘common interests’ and not ‘universal values’. Values are different in different societies so, in Xi’s view, you cannot ‘order’ the world based on universal values,” said Forough, who added that Beijing developed inter-state relations in terms of how the involved parties and itself could benefit.
The Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s global project to develop trade routes and infrastructure building across Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, was also mentioned in the article’s summary of some of China’s recent international participation.
The programme has drawn some backlash from Western countries, but over half of all countries are either involved or have endorsed it, including an overwhelming majority in the Global South.
Korybko said the infrastructure project was “the basis of China’s contemporary grand strategy”, which could develop into political and strategic collaborations over time.
“The initiative is conceived as the vehicle through which relations of complex interdependence between China and the rest of the world can be created and strengthened, as driven by desired and mutually beneficial outcomes,” he said.
“This would create the basis for China to gradually reform the economic-financial basis of international relations away from its current Western-centricity.”
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