Theoretical Questions About Developing a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

By Chen Xulong

The idea of a community with a shared future for mankind made its debut in 2012 in the report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In 2015, it was fleshed out by President Xi Jinping at the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, where he called for global efforts in five areas: building partnerships in which countries treat other as equals, engage in consultation and show mutual understanding; creating a security environment featuring fairness, justice, joint participation, and shared benefits; promoting open, innovative, and inclusive development that benefits all; encouraging civilizations to accept their differences and conduct mutual learning to realize harmonious coexistence; and building an ecosystem that puts Mother Nature and green development first. In January 2017, at the UN Office in Geneva, President Xi used his keynote speech, Work Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind, to lay out China's plan to develop such a community. Then, at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting in December 2017, President Xi explained in his keynote speech that a community with a shared future for mankind means that the destiny and future of each and every nation and country are interlocked, and, as such, people around the world should stick together through thick and thin and endeavor to build this planet of ours into a harmonious big family and realize mankind's longing for a better life.


As to several theoretical questions about “the community with a shared future for mankind”,  my understanding are as follows.

I. Theoretical characteristics

From a theoretical point of view, a community with a shared future for mankind is a unity of “what it is” and “what it ought to be”, worldview and methodology, and inheritance and innovation. "What it is" refers to the realities, the objective facts, and the trends. Today, human beings are in the same global village and standing at the same juncture where history meets reality; “the destiny and future of each and every nation and country are interlocked” and international interdependence is growing to such an extent that we are becoming a community with a shared future.

 “What it ought to be” is about what should be allowed to happen and how to make it happen. The idea of building a community with a shared future must take root across the world and all parties should “stick together through thick and thin and endeavor to build this planet of ours into a harmonious big family and realize mankind’s longing for a better life”.

As a worldview, the concept approaches the world from two perspectives: what it is and what it ought to be, and sees it as a community with a shared future of which peoples of different countries are all members and integral parts.

As a methodology, it requires us to fully understand the realities and take actions accordingly towards “what it ought to be”. Countries need to make concerted efforts to protect our common planet and make it an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world of lasting peace, common security, and shared prosperity.

For inheritance, the concept inherits the fine legacy of Chinese and foreign philosophies and good practices. It recapitulates China’s five principles of peaceful coexistence and the ideas of developing a new international political and economic order, path of peaceful development, and a harmonious world. In addition, it stays in tune with the developments of our times, changes in the international landscape, and the progress of human civilization.

For innovation, it proposes new ideas and strategies and calls for new actions and measures. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinjing as the core have been actively pushing for innovations in diplomatic theory and practice, proposing new initiatives like the "Belt and Road" and new concepts on global governance, security, development, justice and interests, and globalization. The efforts to conduct major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics also gave birth to Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy. This concept of a community with a shared future is central to Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy and has become the diplomatic guide to developing socialism with Chinese characteristic in the new era. As a significant innovation in China's diplomatic thinking, it has and will continue to drive the innovation and progress of Chinese diplomacy.

To go one step further, building a community with a shared future for mankind is also a unity of historical necessity and freewill, wholeness and individuality, universality and diversity, plurality and subjectivity, and progressiveness and convolution.

Its historical necessity lies in the fact that as human society advances, it is sure to merge into a community with a shared future. Freewill plays a crucial role in understanding the “shared future”, going about building such a community, and deciding what the community should look like, and at what pace and to what effect to build it.

“The future of mankind” is a concept denoting wholeness and universality, and yet at the same time, it is multi-factored and multidimensional. It will be represented by the destinies of various entities in multiple areas and at multiple levels, showcasing plurality, diversity,  subjectivity, and differentiality.

“The future of mankind” is bright as the wheels of history keep moving forward in an unstoppable way. At the same time, the process, driven by the imbalance of development, is long and tortuous.

The development of a community with a shared future will happen in different stages. Theoretically, it could be divided into the primary, middle and high stages, measured by the closeness of interconnectivity, the convergence of interests, the synchronization of development, the sharing of responsibilities, acceptance of a common set of values, and the coordination of actions.

II. The Relationship between Me and the Community

The meaning of a community with a shared future for mankind can only be explained well when the relations between Me (China) and the Community are well defined.

The basic logic is that Me is part of and an embodiment of the Community. The destiny of Me and that of mankind is closely intertwined and inseparable, but not identical or fully synchronized. As Me and more and more other parties form an increasingly stronger community, the world will move closer towards a community of mankind, and recognize the contribution and value of Me.

As a subject, Me is an advocate, builder, and participant of the Community. Me contributes to and leads the development of the Community.

The concept of the Community turns “me and you”and “you, me, and him/her” into “us”, just as the concept of “global village” makes peoples of different countries “villagers” and the Internet turns them into “netizens”. The concept of the Community will strengthen the awareness of a “global village”, “homeland of mankind”, and “Greater Community”.

III. What kind of a Community We Want to Build

While making clear what a community with a shared future for mankind is, it is also necessary to know what this community should look like.

The answer given by China can be summarized in different ways. They include “five communities”, i.e. communities of equality, peace, prosperity, civilizations, and green development; “five worlds”, i.e. a world of lasting peace, a world of common security, a world of common prosperity, an open and inclusive world, and a clean and beautiful world; “four worlds”, i.e. a world of universal security free from fear, a world of common prosperity free from poverty, an open and inclusive world free from isolation, and a green, clean and beautiful world, which is, in effect, a briefer version of the “five worlds”. There are also the “three worlds”, i.e. a world of peace and development, a world of win-win cooperation, and an open and inclusive world; the goal of “common development, shared prosperity, and lasting peace” for human society; the call “to closely unite peoples of different countries in win-win cooperation and common development and enable them to all share in the fruits of development”; and the idea of “working even more closely together” and “advancing hand in hand” to build a strategic community with a shared future for China and foreign countries. Among all these answers, the “five worlds” is the most authoritative and should be made better known.

IV. Why a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind

It is said in the report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC that “our world is full of both hope and challenges. We should not give up on our dreams because the reality around us is too complicated; we should not stop pursuing our ideals because they seem out of our reach. No country can address alone the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation.” These words point to the fact that such a community is both the dream and pursuit of China and a must for countries to join forces to counter the various challenges confronting mankind. However complex the challenges may be, China will not give up.

As a result of the objective necessity of human development and the subjective activity of mankind, there is a theoretical necessity in building the community. Only by following the trend and working in concert for maximum consensus and combined forces can we work in the most efficient way to build such a community that best meets the shared aspiration of mankind.

From a theoretical point of view, it is also feasible to build the community. This is due to the achievements of human society, the positive trends, and the policy choices and practices of various entities. First, there is the strong and growing desire for peace, development, and progress; second, growing interdependence in an interconnected world makes the world warm, crowded, and flat. People of different countries share the global village--a common homeland for the future of mankind--and have the need to protect it; third, as the world becomes increasingly multi-polar, economic globalization advances, information technology infiltrates more of our life, and cultural diversity asserts itself, countries are more and more interdependent and their common interests are expanding and deepening, all of which makes the expansion of and integration within the community irreversible; fourth, partnerships, as a policy tool and goal of countries, are gaining momentum. They are covering all areas, extending globally, and going online; fifth, regionalization and integration keep moving forward, underpinning and propelling the development of communities with a shared future in different regions and for mankind; sixth, the all-encompassing power of the Internet makes the development of a community with a shared future online the task our times and a real need supported by material conditions; seventh, international organizations like the UN and the WTO provide the common rules and intellectual and institutional support for the building of such a community.

V. How to Build the Community

In his important speeches at the UN Headquarters and the UN Office in Geneva, President Xi answered the question of how to build the community with a shared future for mankind. The report to the 19th CPC National Congress identified the guidelines, main goals and pathway of doing this.

A systematic project like this requires an ambitious blueprint, clear guidelines, and a well-designed plan. In particular, the community must be built with efforts in five areas, namely political, economic, security, civilization, and the ecological environment. This is the primary guiding principle.

Politically, there should be mutual respect and equal consultation. The Cold War mentality and power politics have no place in today's world. Dialogue and partnerships must replace confrontation and alliances in order to blaze a new trail in state-to-state relations.


Regarding security, disputes should be resolved through dialogue and differences bridged through consultation. Conventional and non-conventional threats should be handled in the same package. All forms of terrorism must be opposed.


Economically, countries should stick together through thick and thin and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, and balanced to the benefit of all.


Culturally, the diversity of civilization must be respected. Exchange and mutual learning between civilizations should prevail against estrangement and conflicts. Civilizations must be allowed to coexist in harmony, not dominate one another.


In terms of ecology, an environment-friendly approach must be adopted. The world needs to work together to fight climate change and protect the shared home of human beings.

We need to proactively respond to global challenges and the issues concerning the future of mankind and be clear about the direction our world and mankind should take. The key is to strive for peace, development, cooperation, and win-win results, not war, poverty, confrontation, or unilateral gains.


We need to try out innovative practices that have a demonstrative effect and could change the whole picture and promote the successful experience. The “Belt and Road” initiative is a good example.


With an understanding of its wholeness and the characteristics of its factors, dimensions, areas, process, domain, subjects and plurality, we need to take a holistic approach to promoting the initiative in all fields and accurately target our efforts to achieve breakthroughs. The wholeness and homogeneity of the initiative needs to be enhanced, and freewill must also be encouraged to show respect for difference and protect diversity.

We need to communicate our theories and practices of building a community with a shared future for mankind, such as the theory and practices of developing regional communities.

We need to advocate the awareness of “greater community”, keep expanding our community, and take it in the direction of openness, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation, and benefits for all.


In building such a community, we must always work through consultation, rely on joint efforts, and share the benefits. Harmonious coexistence, progress for all, and win-win results will always guide our endeavor. These are principles that work in all corners of the world.

Generally speaking, the efforts to build such a community must be based on the development realities in different regions and countries. Anchoring itself in interconnectivity and partnerships, the community will incorporate different areas and dimensions and develop at different paces. Its areas include political, security, economic, cultural, and ecological fronts; its dimensions cover global, regional, sub-regional,  bilateral, national, and subnational levels; it involves multiple groups of players, such as major countries, neighboring countries, developing countries, and multilateral institutions. Building such a community requires efforts on land, at sea, in the outer space, in deep sea, in the polar regions, and in cyberspace. It will happen at different paces because the degree of development varies across countries and regions. The smaller and less affluent countries and groups should be helped and given special attention so that they do not fall behind and the community is truly an inclusive one that delivers benefits for all. This is what China has been pushing for diplomatically to realize the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind. With a special focus on its neighborhood and its home region, China is fully tapping into the potential of the "Belt and Road" initiative and developing a community with a shared future at different levels, in different areas, and with multiple players.

To conclude, this concept of a community with a shared future is not an attempt to gloss over conflicts. In fact, we must be clear that the process of building such a community will not be free from conflicts. We therefore must have the courage, wisdom, and strength to tackle them. We must be able to manage the differences and competition among countries and fight actions that violate basic principles and major interests. The goal is to safeguard legitimate interests, uphold world peace and international justice, and promote common development. In a sense, China’s efforts to build such a community is also a great international struggle with many new historical characteristics. While fighting what must be fought against, we should also be vigilant against the Thucycides Trap that saw established and emerging powers locked in confrontation and the possibilities of a new Cold War.

Chen Xulong is the Director of Department for International and Strategic Studies of CIIS.