China issues White Paper on global community of shared future, presses on with green BRI projects

  • China
  • Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023

The paper comes a decade Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed his vision for an alternative to the current Western-led world order. - AFP

BEIJING (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): China on Tuesday (Sept 26) unveiled its blueprint for a better world, raised by President Xi Jinping in 2013, through a policy paper on building a global community of shared future.

China also said it will continue to push for green development in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, rejecting accusations that it has outsourced its environmental pollution, a senior official from China’s top economic planner said at a press conference on the wide-ranging policy paper about China’s global vision.

The White Paper titled “A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions” comes a decade after the vision was first proposed by Xi, and has been presented as his alternative to the current Western-led world order, with an emphasis on what it calls Chinese-style diplomacy and various global initiatives.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI, and China will host the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in October, with leaders and representatives from some 130 countries set to attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By July 2023, more than three-quarters of countries in the world and over 30 international organisations had signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China, the White Paper said.

Issued by the State Council Information Office, the White Paper said the vision rises above the exclusive rules of bloc politics, the notion of “might makes right” and the “universal values” defined by a handful of Western countries.

China has contributed to building a global community of shared future with actions including promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, state news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday.

At the press conference, in a rare appearance beyond his usual annual press conference in March, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that by putting forward the creative idea, President Xi has shown “the correct path for the world”, building a strong consensus for international cooperation.

China has also proposed solutions to major global challenges in fields such as health, climate change and cyber security, Wang added.

He said Beijing was willing to play a “constructive” role in the success of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in November in San Francisco.

It paves the way for a possible meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden – both presidents last met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders’ summit in November 2022 in Bali.

Xi did not attend the G-20 summit in India earlier this month, missing an opportunity to meet Mr Biden, and prompting the US to say China was “giving up” on the G-20 and building an alternative world order.

“Of course, we and all parties also hope that the United States will realise its responsibilities as a host, show due openness, fairness, tolerance and responsibility, and create better conditions for the smooth holding of the meeting,” Wang said, referring to the Apec summit.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said he had yet to receive any invitation to the November meeting. It follows US media reports in July that he had been barred from the meetings after being sanctioned by Washington for what it calls his role in cracking down on civil liberties in the Asian financial hub.

Wang repeated a frequent Chinese warning that China opposes “wanton expansion of military alliances” and the squeezing of the security space of other countries.

Beijing has been critical of Washington’s continued attempts to increase military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Quad and the Aukus groupings. It particularly disagrees with bases that are being built by the US in the north of the Philippines.

Dialogue between China and the US has been gradually resuming despite continued tensions, with several high-level visits to Beijing in recent months by top US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Meanwhile, not all is rosy with China’s BRI, which has come under widespread criticism for causing environmental destruction in project areas, including building coal-fired power plants overseas despite a national commitment domestically to reach peak carbon output by 2030, and to be carbon-neutral by 2060.

Earlier this year, a report in the Jakarta Post said the Batang Toru hydropower project, which is 70 per cent owned by Chinese-owned State Development and Investment Corporation’s subsidiary SDIC Power, encroached on the habitat of the endangered Tapanuli orangutan, forcing them to intrude on nearby farms and villages.

“The joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’ projects are carried out based on the principle of extensive consultation, joint construction and shared benefits,” Cong Liang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission said in response to a question from The Straits Times at the press conference.

“Whether the development is green or not, I think the (partner country) knows best, the local people have the most say, and facts are always more convincing than words.”

It is “not worth refuting” the voices that slander the Green Silk Road – an initiative to make BRI projects more ecologically sustainable – and those who attempt to smear and interfere with joint projects will not succeed, he added.

Touting the success of the BRI, officials said projects such as the high-speed rail between Jakarta and Bandung, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, and the Greek port of Piraeus have increased connectivity, rejuvenating the local economy with jobs and trade.

“In the next step, the NDRC will work with relevant departments... (and) continue to build high-quality landmark projects, promote ‘small but beautiful’ projects, deepen cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure and people’s livelihood projects to achieve complementary advantages, mutual benefits and win-win results,” Cong said.

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