“Political Correctness” and Pan-securitization Hinder the Future of Economic Globalization

Wu Hongbo

In recent years, the world is evolving at an accelerated pace with interlaced global crises and new changes taking place. There have been growing attention and debate on economic globalization in the international community. It has become all the more pressing to improve global governance. In this connection, I would like to share a few observations on economic globalization, China’s role and China-Europe cooperation.
On Economic Globalization
Whether you are for or against economic globalization, you probably recognize the fact that it has facilitated investment, travels, technological development and trade in a big way, and has greatly increased the total amount of global wealth. At the same time, you have every reason to question economic globalization if you read the report of the World Economic Forum, which states that the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by USD 2.5 billion a day, while 3.8 billion people in the world have no access to social protection at all.  
The fundamental concern at the heart of people’s discontent and skepticism is the widening gaps between the rich and the poor, and across regions and countries. The call of the people reflects the flaws in the global governance system, the uneven distribution of the global development dividend and the lack of global public goods. Therefore, one cannot simply put the blame on economic globalization.
It has also been noted that globalization is some countries’ scapegoat for rising inequality and botched economic and social policies at home so as to shift blame and outsource domestic problems. One superpower, for the sake of hegemony, is seeking decoupling, cutting supply chains, building “small yard, high fences” and “friendshoring,” which tramples on the rules of international trade, and disrupts international economic order. In Europe, people are busy with “de-risking” and “reducing dependence”. “Political correctness” and pan-securitization are replacing normal economic logic and rules. If things go on like this, the future of economic globalization will look gloomy.
When using Chinese cellphones, flying on American planes, drinking French wines, tasting Brazilian steaks and sipping Ethiopian coffee, people should realize that the world’s economy is highly interdependent and the interests of all countries are deeply intertwined. This remains unchanged. As President Xi Jinping has said, economic globalization is a response to development of productivity and, as such, represents an unstoppable historical trend. Anyone who attempts to turn back the wheel of history and block others’ way will only have his own path blocked. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also said that decoupling or “dividing the global economy into two blocs could cut global GDP by a whopping USD 1.4 trillion.” Obviously, such practices as decoupling and supply chain disruption, and building “small yard, high fences” are detrimental to economic globalization as a whole, and are totally inconsistent with the overall interests of the international community.
The existing international governance system should not be overturned with a new system in place. Instead, the international community should conduct full consultation to reform and innovate the unfair and unreasonable part of the current global governance system, so that it can meet the trends of the world’s economic and social development, serve the common interests of all countries, better respond to global challenges, and promote peaceful development and win-win cooperation throughout the world.
On China’s Role
This year marks the 45th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. China has made great achievements along the way while sharing development opportunities with the rest of the world. Friendly cooperation is bearing fruits from the Mombasa-Nairobi railway in Kenya, and the Budapest-Belgrade railway in Europe, to the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway in Indonesia and the deep-water port in Peru, from the Merowe Dam in Sudan, the Gwadar Port in Pakistan and the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia, to the Central Business District of the new administrative capital of Egypt and the Montego Bay Convention Center in Jamaica, to name but a few.
China has provided development assistance to more than 160 countries, has worked with more than 150 countries under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has been a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions, and has promoted the Global Development Initiative with more than 100 countries and international organizations. China has actively promoted the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which has led to the official launch of the world’s most populous free trade area with the most diverse member structure and the greatest potential for development.
China actively participates in the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and promotes cooperation within the UN, the G20, APEC, BRICS and other mechanisms. It has made steady progress in advancing the BRI and promoting a global partnership of connectivity. It takes an active part in discussions on global issues including economic globalization, the Internet, ocean, the environment and sustainable development, and put forward the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative, contributing China’s solutions to the common challenges faced by humanity.
China upholds and practices multilateralism, and works to build a community with a shared future for mankind. It is a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order and a provider of public goods.
This year, the Chinese economy has maintained the momentum of recovery and growth, and solid progress has been made in high-quality development. Forecast of the International Monetary Fund suggests that China will contribute more than 30 percent of global economic growth in 2023. With bright development prospects, China is bound to add fresh impetus into global economic recovery and sustainable development. I feel embarrassed for those who have been talking down the Chinese economy, because they have never gotten it right despite their ceaseless efforts. China will stay committed to the fundamental national policy of opening up, advance international cooperation in more areas, on higher levels and in greater depth. We are ready to work with other countries to make economic globalization more open, inclusive and beneficial for all to meet the aspiration for win-win cooperation.
On the Role of China and Europe in Globalization
China and Europe are two major forces, two big markets and two great civilizations with global influence in the multipolar world. Both sides support multilateralism and the central role of the UN, and actively promote economic globalization and better global governance. Between China and Europe, there is no fundamental conflict of interests nor geopolitical tensions. The cooperation and consensus outweigh competition and differences.
Economic globalization cannot work without the active participation of China, Europe and other countries. In the same vein, its achievements should benefit all parties. But unfortunately, by overstretching the concept of “national security” and “risks”, some proposals are fragmenting global economy and severing international industrial and supply chains, which actually undermines cooperation, stability and development. At the end of the day, no one’s interests will be served.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. Over the past two decades, our cooperation has produced fruitful outcomes. Not long ago however, China, EU’s comprehensive strategic partner, was labeled with three words—partner, competitor, and systemic rival, which is akin to a traffic light. Imagine at a traffic light, if the three colors light up red, yellow and green at the same time, I am afraid no driver would dare to move forward. Likewise, if China is given this three-positioning in its cooperation with Europe, not only China, but the politicians, entrepreneurs and the general public in Europe will feel bewildered. In this world, it is easy to complicate a simple relationship and make troubles, and many politicians are well versed in that. It is not easy to simplify a complicated problem and resolve it, but that is what China and Europe need.
As comprehensive strategic partners, China and the EU are fully able to put aside this baffling three-positioning, enhance mutual trust and strengthen communication and coordination on global governance, and make joint efforts on the following fronts for the international community:
First, we should adhere to the right direction of economic globalization and firmly uphold the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. The economic and trade issue should not be mixed with politics or security, or be used as a tool. We should jointly safeguard a cooperation environment featuring openness and mutual trust, and keep global industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded;
Second, we should step up macroeconomic policy coordination, and safeguard the security of the international economic and financial system to provide more stability and positive energy to this turbulent world, and to work for an early global economic recovery;
Third, we should promote green and low-carbon development, and provide strong support for developing countries in response to climate change. We should work for positive outcomes at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, making new contributions for a transition to low-carbon economy and global sustainable development;
Fourth, we should practice true multilateralism and honor the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. We should uphold the international system centered on the UN and the international order underpinned by international law, and efforts should be made to develop and improve the global governance system.
I believe as long as China and Europe rise above ideology, steer clear of “political correctness” and replace division, confrontation and exclusion with solidarity, cooperation and inclusiveness, both sides will be able to better forestall and defuse risks, promote global economic development, and usher in yet another two decades of win-win cooperation between China and Europe.

Wu Hongbo is Special Representative of the Chinese Government on European Affairs.