An Improved Global Governance System Provides Institutional Guarantee for Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
Chen Dongxiao, Mao RuipengPresident Xi Jinping outlined the vision of a community with a shared future for the first time when he delivered a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in March 2013. Over the past ten years, in adherence to its foreign policy goals of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, China has fostered international consensus on building a community with a shared future for mankind and turned it into a global practice. In the face of increasingly serious deficit in peace, development, security and governance, improving the global governance system is the key to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
I.A community with a shared future for mankind is the right way forward for humanity.
The community awareness is indispensable to the progress of human civilization. However, the world today is undergoing drastic turbulence and changes, casting a shadow on the future of mankind. In particular, we are witnessing rampant hegemonism and zero-sum mentality recurrence of group politics, escalation in geopolitical conflicts, recession of economic globalization, and widening of global development gap. Global challenges are more acute and international cooperation has been held back by huge obstacles on various fronts.
Standing at a crossroads of history, people with vision around the world have expressed deep concerns about the uncertainties facing humanity. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in September 2022 that mankind is at a “turning point in history” and is facing “the biggest test since World War II”. Confronted with unprecedented challenges since the end of the Cold War, many countries and international organizations have come to a deeper understanding of the interdependence and shared future of human society, and have been increasingly aware that building a community with a shared future for mankind is the right way for the future of all peoples. Only through solidarity and cooperation can we prevent humanity from sliding back into the abyss of confrontation and division.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind is China’s solution in addressing challenges in global governance. It demonstrates not only the purpose and mission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to strive for the progress of humanity, but also the essential requirement to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and advance Chinese modernization. Since its conception, building a human community with a shared future has become an important philosophy and goal of China’s diplomacy. It was reaffirmed at the 20th CPC National Congress held in October 2022 that “China has always been committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development, and it is dedicated to promoting a human community with a shared future.”
After ten years of development, building a community with a shared future for mankind has resonated with the international community as an important philosophy and vision, alongside the concepts of “human family” and “international community”. Since February 2017, the community with a shared future for mankind has been included in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Human Rights Council and other international institutions. It has become an important international public goods provided by China to the world. The initiative of a community with a shared future for mankind has developed rich substance on multiple levels and in a wide range of areas, pursued through a variety of pathways. Geographically, China have set goals of building partnerships with various countries and regions, including the China-ASEAN community with a shared future, the China-Africa community with a shared future, the China-Latin America community with a shared future, the China-Pakistan community with a shared future, the China-Vietnam community with a shared future, the China-Kazakhstan community with a shared future, the Asian community with a shared future, and the SCO community with a shared future. On the topics and areas of cooperation, China upholds the principles and values of consultation and dialogue, joint contribution and shared benefits, win-win cooperation, exchanges and mutual learning, and green and low-carbon development. China is committed to building an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. On important international occasions, President Xi Jinping has made major propositions, such as building a community of security, a community of development, a community of cultural exchanges, a community of health, and a community of life for man and nature.
II.A community with a shared future for mankind calls for improving the global governance system.
The reform of the global governance system is a pressing task. As UN Secretary-General Guterres said, at the heart of the global challenge is the failure of global governance. With increasing transnational and global issues facing humanity, the global governance deficit has become a serious challenge for all countries, as evidenced by ineffective governance, uneven distribution of governance results, and insufficient supply of public goods.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind and improving the global governance system complement and reinforce each other. For one thing, a community with a shared future for mankind provides new wisdom and new solutions for addressing the global governance challenges, and offers a strong driving force and points the way forward for reforming and improving the global governance system. For another, to build a community with a shared future for mankind needs to be supported by a new type of global governance system. For both institutional guarantee and practical needs, reforming and improving the global governance system is a key pathway and a priority for building a community with a shared future for mankind.
First, the outdated global governance system cannot provide a comprehensive response resolution to global issues of unprecedented complexity. Today’s world is entering a so-called “VUCA era” characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Traditional and non-traditional security issues are intertwined. Global public issues such as economic imbalance, ecological degradation, environmental pollution and resources shortage are beyond the governance capacity of any country, and calls for a united international response. However, the current global governance system has multiple defects such as mechanism fragmentation and conceptual differences, which has proved to be unable to adapt to and solve new challenges and issues. As UN Secretary-General Guterres said, from global health to digital technology, global economic and financial systems to climate change, many of today’s multilateral frameworks are out of date, failing to protect key global public goods designed to support human well-being. He believed that the world is in urgent need of a better global governance system to restore equity, salvage sustainable development goals and uphold the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.
Secondly, the grave historical injustices in the inequitable global governance system pose restrictions and impediments to world peace and common development. When the post-WWII international system was being made, developing countries were absent or in a subordinate position, as the vast majority of them were in the state of colonization and enslavement. After gaining political independence, developing countries faced the important task of revitalizing their economies and achieving independent development. However, the inequality in international political and economic order has not been fundamentally addressed. For the vast number of developing countries, equal representation and voice not only concerns dignity, but also security and development interests. To this end, the international community has made a louder call to build a fairer and more equitable global governance system. At the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, Secretary-General Guterres made a straightforward statement that “Today’s global financial system was created by rich countries to serve their interests many decades ago. It expands and entrenches inequalities. It requires deep structural reform. ”
Third, the existing global governance system can not effectively reflect the concerns and aspirations of developing countries, hence lacking legitimacy grievously. Although the goal of global governance is seemingly expected to safeguard the global public interest, the influence of power politics is widespread. Historically, the global governance system was established in the context of the global expansion of capitalism and the international pattern of power dominated by Western powers. While the global governance system is guided by the logic of capital and power politics, developed capitalist countries often “rule” in the name of “governance” in international affairs. As some academics argue, the global governance system seems to provide a channel for addressing and mitigating complex international challenges that have built over time. In fact, however, it has secured buffer space for the capitalist world to deal with challenges from peripheral countries, regions and organizations and consolidate its power to steer globalization. Under the irrational global governance system, developed countries secure and maintain dominant power over developing countries through their monopoly in international organizations and international rules. In recent years, as the only superpower in the world, the United States has wantonly manipulated the international system to its hegemony and interests and gone all out to obstruct normal international cooperation. The acts of curbing and suppressing the development of other countries through monopolizing international rules have caused serious harm to international cooperation in various fields. The irrational global governance system goes against the call for greater democracy in international relations and the trend towards a multi-polar world, and has aroused strong dissatisfaction among developing countries.
III.China is a major advocate of a fairer and more equitable global governance system.
Over the past decade, China has taken a clear-cut stand on strengthening international cooperation and improving the global governance system, and put into practice the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. It was stated at the 20th CPC National Congress that “China plays an active part in the reform and development of the global governance system. It pursues a vision of global governance featuring shared growth through discussion and collaboration. China upholds true multilateralism, promotes greater democracy in international relations, and works to make global governance fairer and more equitable.” China is playing a more vital role as a pillar in global governance.
First, China endeavors to make economic globalization more balanced, inclusive and sustainable. China is a staunch supporter of economic globalization. For one thing, China is committed to its fundamental national policy of opening up to the outside world and pursues a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. It strives to create new opportunities for the world with its own development and to contribute its share to building an open global economy. For another, China opposes protectionism and the erroneous policies of some Western countries, such as the erection of “fences and barriers”, decoupling, and disruption of industrial and supply chains. Over the past decade, China has continuously deepened Belt and Road cooperation, consecutively hosted China International Import Expo, actively promoted the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, and initiatively built a global network of high-standard free trade zones. These measures have enabled all countries and parties to share in the opportunities of China’s huge market, promoted regional economic integration, and contributed to an open global economy system. Carlos Magariños, former Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said that China has become a responsible contributor to global governance and a leading force in getting the world economy out of the crisis.
Second, China enriches and develops the global governance knowledge system. There are huge gaps and intense competition between the ideals and model preference of global governance pursued by different countries. It is undeniable that, as many scholars have stated, “power is central to global governance”. Among the various types of power, discourse and knowledge systems constitute the so-called productive power, which dominates people’s perception at the conceptual level. For example, it sets the frame for what is reasonable knowledge and determines whose knowledge is more important. To this end, it is of great significance to increase the supply of effective knowledge, reshape the discourse system of global governance, and actively guide the establishment of global governance norms that reflect the legitimate aspirations of developing countries. Different from the old global governance vision with utilitarianism and power politics as its core, China advocates a global governance vision featuring shared growth through discussion and collaboration, adheres to true multilateralism, and promotes greater democracy in international relations. It brings the common values of humanity of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom into the global governance system, and promotes global governance to evolve in the direction of being fairer and more equitable.
Third, China upholds true multilateralism and promotes greater democracy in international relations. Upholding and practicing multilateralism is the right way to address global governance challenges. While the US and other Western countries are forming blocs and exclusive groups, China firmly upholds the international system while the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China explicitly opposes all forms of unilateralism and the forming of exclusive groups based on ideological prejudices. President Xi Jinping stressed many times on international occasions the need to respect the right of all countries to choose their own social systems and development paths, and to ensure that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. The fate of the world must be in the hands of all peoples. The world affairs should be handled through consultation by the governments and people of all countries. The idea to monopolize international affairs lags behind the times, and the attempt to monopolize international affairs is also doomed to fail.
Fourth, China firmly supports more representation and say of developing countries in the international system. Improving the global governance system is all about adapting to the new changes in the international balance of power, pushing forward the reform of global governance system, so as to reflect the concerns and aspirations of all parties and better safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. Over the past few decades, the international landscape has evolved profoundly. Developing countries account for more than 70 percent of the world’s population and contribute 80 percent to global economic growth. However, the global governance system has failed to reflect the changing circumstances, and has yet to be more representative and inclusive. China is firmly committed to greater democracy in international relations and more representation and say of emerging markets and developing countries in global affairs, and firmly supports developing countries in strengthening coordination and cooperation within international and multilateral mechanisms to secure more institutional power and say. China has actively pursued policy coordination with other developing countries on multilateral platforms such as the UN and the G20, and voiced common positions and concerns through BRICS, the SCO and other platforms. China has led the efforts to establish a new type of international financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank to promote the sustainable development of developing countries.
IV.China introduces three global initiatives to promote the reform of the global governance system.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind calls for the sustained and joint efforts of the international community. In response to the new changes on the international situation in recent years, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) on important international occasions. By complementing and echoing each other, the three major initiatives represent China’s major measures towards a community with a shared future for mankind and are of great significance for improving the global governance system.
First, the GDI brings development issues back to the center of the international agenda. Sustainable development is the “golden key” to tackling global challenges. COVID-19 has slowed down the progress of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reversed gains in many areas. To build a global development community, President Xi Jinping proposed the GDI for the first time in September 2021 during the General Debate of the 76th UN General Assembly, calling on the international community to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to achieve stronger, greener and healthier global development. The GDI focuses on six commitments, namely staying committed to development as a priority, a people-centered approach, benefits for all, innovation-driven development, harmony between man and nature, and results-oriented actions. The GDI has contributed to global development governance at the conceptual, resource and institutional levels, injecting new vitality into the global implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Since its launch, the GDI has received active support from more than 100 countries and international organizations. The Group of Friends of the GDI was established at the UN, and the High-level Dialogue on Global Development was successfully held. The GDI helps to build political consensus on accelerating development, bring development issues back to the center of the international agenda, and promote experience and knowledge sharing on development.
Second, the GSI promotes world peace and stability. Building a safer world is the keen aspiration of all peoples and the shared responsibility of all countries. As China’s international influence grows, the international community looks to China to play a greater role in global security governance. In face of complex changes in the international security situation, President Xi Jinping put forward the GSI for the first time in April 2022 at the Boao Forum for Asia. The GSI is aimed at eliminating the root causes of international conflicts, improving global security governance, and achieving durable peace and development in the world. China’s position is as follows: staying committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; staying committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; staying committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; staying committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously; staying committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation; staying committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains. To promote political settlement of the Ukraine crisis and restore peace in the region, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued in February 2023 China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis, which provided the Chinese solution to promoting peace talks, stopping the war and seeking the broadest common understanding of all parties. In March 2023, with the support and facilitation of China, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume diplomatic relations and issued a joint trilateral statement in Beijing. These major measures and achievements are full evidence that in the new era, China will take a more active part in global security governance and international security rules-making, play a more constructive role in the settlement of international disputes, and make greater contributions to world peace and regional stability.
Third, the GCI promotes inter-Civilizational dialogue, exchanges and mutual learning. Following the GDI and the GSI, President Xi Jinping launched the GCI at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting in March 2023. How to manage the relations between different civilizations is a major issue with far-reaching implications. For a long time, the arguments on the clash of civilizations and the so-called superiority of some civilizations to others have caused great harm to human society. In his book False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, John Gray, a UK scholar, highlights a view in modern Western thought that “Modern societies all over the world will become replicas of Western societies”. In a sharp contrast, the GCI advocates the respect for the diversity of civilizations, the common values of humanity, the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. China explicitly opposes a country imposing its own values and models on others, and is against ideological confrontation. The GCI rejects the arguments that some civilizations are superior and that there is only one model of modernization. It encourages different regions and countries to explore the path of modernization based on their own histories and national conditions, as well as promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, thus laying the foundation for making a united response to risks and challenges.
The three global initiatives are consistent with Xi Jinping thoughts on governance and compatible with China’s foreign policy goals of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, serving as the key pillars of the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. The implementation of the three global initiatives around the world will create new impetus and opportunities for building a community with a shared future for mankind and forging a fairer and more equitable global governance system.
Chen Dongxiao is President of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.
Mao Ruipeng is Research Fellow of the Institute for Global Governance Studies of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.