Xi’s vision for a responsible country
The largest carbon market across the globe opened this week in China, the latest in a series of concrete measures the world’s largest developing country has launched in the battle against climate change.
The new program epitomizes China’s strong sense of responsibility as a major country in the world, and embodies the philosophy Chinese President Xi Jinping articulated at the beginning of the year in the snow-capped Alpine town of Davos, Switzerland.
In his landmark keynote speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Xi shared his vision on how to steer the world economy out of difficulty through concerted effort and urged members of the international community to take on the responsibility of the times.
Xi’s inspiring words, as WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab said, have brought “sunshine” at a time of uncertainty and volatility.
History does not lack crucial moments that call for responsible action from the world’s major countries.
In the political sense, the modern world was shaped by Western powers through centuries of brutal and destructive wars as well as struggles for hegemony. Oftentimes, they would pursue their selfish interests in the guise of the “general good.”
Edward Hallett Carr, a British political scientist and historian, wrote in his classic book on international relations, “The Twenty Years’ Crisis,” that “this kind of hypocrisy is a special and characteristic peculiarity of the Anglo-Saxon mind.”
A telling example in recent history is the Iraq War. To guarantee its strategic presence in the region, the United States went to war in Iraq based on just one piece of fabricated intelligence and a false promise to liberate the country from tyranny.
Today, 14 years after the start of the war, Iraq still suffers crises on multiple fronts, and the peace prospects in the wider Middle East could not be darker.
The past year has also witnessed how a “go-it-alone” superpower can haunt the rest of the international community. In less than a year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump has cut Washington loose from one key international treaty after another.
Chanting the “America First” slogan, he has accused many — if not all — of his country’s trading partners of taking advantage of the United States, and threatened to renegotiate for what he calls “fairer” deals.
Such a doctrine of unilateralism has given rise to widespread worries at a time when multilateralism is needed to accommodate the deeply intertwined interests of all nations.
A SHARED VISION
Xi’s Davos speech, in which he rooted for free trade, an open economy and globalization, sketches out his multilateralism-based approach to invigorating global growth, and stems from his vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Even since he first expounded the overarching idea to the world in 2013 in a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, he has gradually fleshed it out over the years.
“Our world is full of hope and challenges. … No country can address alone the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation,” Xi said in his momentous report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October.
In this era of growing challenges and risks, like climate change, ravaging terrorism, and rising trade protectionism, Xi’s proposition charts a clear and viable course forward.
“We have a shared destiny. … We have to develop our own policy based on common shared interests. That will be a good starting point,” said Gerhard Stahl, a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.
In Xi’s view, a community with a shared future for humankind should feature mutual respect, diversity and dialogue based on equality and peaceful co-existence among different civilizations, and the world order should be decided not by one country or a few, but by broad international consensus.
William Jones, Washington Bureau chief of U.S. publication Executive Intelligence Review, said Xi’s proposal is an “attempt by the Chinese president to overcome and replace the traditional notion of ‘geopolitics,’ in which there are always ‘winners’ and ‘losers,’ and in which the principle of ‘might makes right’ tends to predominate.”
“In this new concept, everyone plays a role and the benefits achieved by any one nation can be shared by all,” he added.
FROM PHILOSOPHY TO REALITY
The Chinese president’s signature foreign policy idea is not a pie in the sky, but a beacon for action. Over the past five years, he has undertaken a number of practical measures to make it a reality.
Among them is the flagship Belt and Road Initiative, which he proposed in 2013 with the aim of achieving policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity along and beyond ancient Silk Road trade routes, thus building a new platform for international cooperation to create new drivers of growth.
At the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May, Xi reiterated that China wants to join the world in building the Belt and Road into a road for peace, prosperity, opening-up and innovation.
Xi has also played a constructive role in improving global governance. Beijing has been pushing for a bigger say for the developing world in key global bodies and dedicated to building a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation — for all countries.
To maintain world peace, China has been a top contributor to UN peacekeeping missions and steadfastly championing peaceful settlement of hot-button issues worldwide.
David Shambaugh, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said, “China’s dramatically increased role in global governance is very positive and one of the most noteworthy aspects of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy.”
When Xi addressed the Davos forum, the world hailed China as a “rock of stability” amid uncertainties. Now as China forges ahead in line with the ambitious blueprint drawn at the CPC national congress, expectations are running high for the country to make more contributions to world development.
Recent history has eloquently demonstrated that China will never shy away from its due international responsibilities, not to mention that it has set a goal of building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
And in Xi’s eyes, being a major country during this new era does not equate to dominating others.
It “means shouldering greater responsibilities for regional and world peace and development,” Xi said in his keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015.