Turn Geopolitical Competition into Geopolitical Cooperation
A Community with Shared Future for Mankind is China’s answer to the call of the time in a world beset by a myriad of challenges and risks, ranging from pandemic, climate change, slow growth, terrorism to protectionism.
It has been close to two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, and there is still no certainty as to when the pandemic will end, especially now with the discovery of Omicron, a new virus variant which is reported to be much more contagious and has since spread to more than 10 countries.
The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic is a repeated reminder to the world that we are all members of the global village. The coronavirus is our common enemy. We share the same future.
Viruses recognize no borders, no religions, and no ethnicity. To win the battle against COVID-19, all the countries must stand united and work together as no one is safe until everyone is safe.
However, the US deems China as an adversary and regards the Chinese government as an “authoritarian regime” which does not subscribe to Western liberal values. It now explicitly tells the world that China’s rise is a “threat” to the liberal international order and poses an imminent challenge to America’s global hegemony.
To demonize China, Trump stigmatized the coronavirus and made China a scapegoat after failing to contain the spread of the virus which resulted in hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths in the US. And his successor, President Joe Biden politicized the origin of the virus.
As a result, the world which is already facing unprecedented challenges now has become more divided, instead of more united.
In his first speech on US foreign policy in March 2021, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said, “China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power, to seriously challenge the stable and open international system.”
He further stressed that “All the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”
Hence, Blinken has made it explicitly clear that “the stable and open international system” and “the rules, values and relationships” have nothing to do with the true world order based on United Nations principles, only to reflect and serve the American interests.
In contrast to America’s “my way or no way” and totally self-serving foreign policy, China’s worldview is open and inclusive, emphasizing common good for mankind based on the concept of “A Community with Shared Future for Mankind.”
President Xi Jinping first put forth the concept that “Mankind is a Community with Shared Future” in his 2013 speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He pointed out that as the world is now hyper-interconnected and all countries are intricately interdependent, the world was increasingly turning into a community with a shared future as “everyone has in himself a little bit of other”.
“A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” is characterized by peace, rather than war; by win-win cooperation instead of winner takes all; and by mutual respect and cooperation among civilizations and countries, rather than division and confrontation.
As China rises and ascends to the world stage, contributing about 30 percent to global growth, it naturally wants to have its voices heard in shaping the global order.
China sees inequities and unfairness tinted with historical prejudice in the current global order. Nevertheless, China has benefited from and realized its development within the current world order. It has no intention of destroying it, much less supplanting it.
“A state of that size cannot be expected to participate in the global order solely on the terms of its rivals,” Oxford History Professor Rana Mitter said in his article entitled “The World China Wants”. However, he also pointed out that “China is not seeking to impose a replica of its own system on other states.”
“A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” is China’s vision for a fair, equitable, and just global order built upon the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, mutual respect, and love for mother earth. It is China’s concept of global governance.
It underlies China’s strategic thoughts on long-term development of its bilateral ties with other countries and manifests China’s foreign policy goal of peace, equality, development, and win-win cooperation.
Underpinning the concept of “A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” is the common values of mankind, which include peace, development, equity, justice, democracy, and freedom. These values transcend ideology and should be upheld by all countries to build a peaceful, stable, and prosperous world.
China’s vision of the new global order and the prevailing liberal international order are thus not mutually exclusive.
“A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” promotes mutual respect and values diversity. As the world recovers from the pandemic, geopolitical competition must give way to geopolitical cooperation.
The concept of “A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” should be put into practical application. For instance, in the case of the South China Sea issue, a “South China Sea Community with Shared Future” (SCS Community with Shared Future) could be built to resolve the long disputes which have bugged the relations between China and the ASEAN claimant countries.
The “SCS Community with Shared Future” should consist of China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei as littoral states in the South China Sea.
Without forces outside the South China Sea, and in the spirit of “fairness and reasonableness, joint construction and sharing”, partner countries of the “SCS Community with Shared Future” could expedite in resolving the territorial disputes and cooperate in the development of marine resources, and overcome sea pollution and ecological environment degradation.
Under the framework of the “SCS Community with Shared Future”, member states could set up a joint security patrol fleet in the South China Sea to provide maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, combat maritime criminal activities, maintain the safety of navigation in the South China Sea and mediate fishery disputes.
And through the establishment of a “South China Sea Fisheries Cooperation Committee”, China could combine its expertise in mariculture technology with poverty alleviation experience, and share them with neighboring countries in the South China Sea. This would reduce reliance on deep-sea fishing on the part of the fishermen in South China Sea littoral states, and effectively implement the South China Sea summer fishing ban policy.
Such cooperation will not only reduce fishery disputes in the South China Sea, cool the South China Sea dispute tension among the claimant countries but also benefit the conservation of marine ecology of the South China Sea, and promote the sustainable development of marine ecology in the region.
China has 14 immediate neighbor countries, making it the country with most neighbors in the world. With a land border of 22,457 kilometers, China could build communities with a shared future with all of its neighbors.
China has been trying to revitalize the economies of its three northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, and Heilongjiang, but without much success as these provinces are away from the main economic centers of the world. To overcome the geographical disadvantage, China could build a “Northeast Asia Community with Share Future” with North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Russia to foster closer social-economic relationships.
The “Northeast Asia Community with Shared Future” would turn Mongolia from a landlocked country to one that is sea-linked, connect the remote Russian Far East with Asian market, and open engagement opportunities for North Korea.
“A Community with Shared Future for Mankind” is China’s answer to the call of the time in a world beset by a myriad of challenges and risks, ranging from pandemic, climate change, slow growth, terrorism to protectionism. The post-pandemic world should not be mired in geopolitical competition that divides the countries. Geopolitical cooperation should be the way forward to build a peaceful and prosperous world.
The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.