Applying Chinese Wisdom and Approaches to Humanity's Future
To promote a global community with a shared future and a world of lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, openness, tolerance, cleanliness, and beauty — these are important new ideas proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a responsible leader of a major country at an important point in humanity's development in order to coordinate the strategy of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation within the wider context of once-in-a-century shifts in the global situation, and having considered the profound questions that will shape the future of humanity, such as the kind of world we would like to build and how to build it. These ideas constitute the core and essence of President Xi's diplomatic philosophy.
I. Formulating the concept of building a global community with a shared future
As the term suggests, "a global community with a shared future" implies that the future of all peoples and all countries in the world are closely linked and that we must stand together through good and bad and work to build a large harmonious global family and to realize humankind's aspiration for a better life.
President Xi first proposed this concept in his speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Russia in March 2013: "This is a world where countries are connected and depend on each other to an extent never before experienced. We, as humans, all live in the same global village, in the same time and space at the confluence of history and reality. More and more, we are becoming a community with a shared future, in which we all have a little of others within us."
A month later, at the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi elaborated on this concept and proposed how to establish a global community with a shared future: have the courage to seek change and innovation, creating an endless source of energy to drive common development; work together in protecting peace, creating the safeguards for security needed to boost common development; focus on boosting cooperation, creating the channels needed for promoting common development; and remain open and inclusive, creating broad space for promoting common development.
In March 2014, in a speech delivered at the headquarters of UNESCO, President Xi talked about encouraging civilizations to communicate and learn from each other: "The world in which we live, is one of different cultures, ethnic groups, skin colors, religions, and social systems, and the people of each country have come to form a community with a shared future in which there's a little part of others in each of us."
During President Xi's speech at the General Debate of the 70th UN General Assembly in September 2015, he set out the details of the concept of a global community with a shared future, stressing the need to "build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals, engage in mutual consultation, and show mutual understanding," to "create a security layout featuring fairness, justice, joint contribution, and shared benefits," to "pursue open, innovative, inclusive, and mutually beneficial development," to "encourage intercultural exchanges that promote tolerance and harmony amid diversity," and to "build an environmental system that puts nature and green development first."
At that time, President Xi's focus was on promoting a global community with a shared future and expounding such issues as China's relationship with the world, China's voluntary and confident adoption of a peaceful development path, the type of world that China wished to build and how to build it, and active development of global partnerships and the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R). This provided initial answers to basic questions surrounding the motives and methods for building a community with a shared future, which were a concentrated embodiment of President Xi's profound ideas about the future and fate of China as well as of humankind.
The China-Laos Railway (left) under construction in Vientiane Province, Laos. Located in the Lancang-Mekong River basin, the railway is a strategic project under China's Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' plan of turning "from a landlocked country into a land-linked country." The entire project employs Chinese technical and managerial standards. The railway is designed to run electric passenger and freight trains at 160 km/h, and completion is planned for December 2021. XINHUA
To realize the Chinese dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we must understand the predominant themes in the contemporary world and China's relationship with the world. The theme, as well as the start and end point, of this era of peace and development is to build a global community with a shared future. In today's world, interconnectivity and interdependence among countries has increased to an unprecedented degree. Confronted with this trend, every country and nation must reconsider and comprehend its relationship with the world. China is in a critical stage of its efforts to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, making it especially important to recognize the general trends in global development and to keep abreast of the times. President Xi has emphasized the need to establish a global vision, so that, "We can better achieve consonance between China's domestic development and its opening to the world, connect China's development with world development, and marry the interests of the Chinese people with the common interests of other peoples. With this, we can keep on expanding mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, we can become more actively involved in international affairs, we can work together with other countries to address global challenges, and we can endeavor to contribute to global development." This amply demonstrates that promoting a global community with a shared future is not simply diplomatic rhetoric but a requirement if we are to realize the Chinese Dream. It is a righteous aspect of socialism with Chinese characteristics that embodies the global vision of contemporary Chinese Communists.
This photo taken on September 14, 2018 shows the new runway at Velana International Airport in the Maldives, which was built under contract by a Chinese company. XINHUA / PHOTO BY ZHI TU
How is China developing? What kind of a country will China become once it is developed? These are questions that China must answer on the road to national rejuvenation, and President Xi has addressed them on various occasions, thereby helping to improve and deepen people's understanding of building a global community with a shared future: "The people of China reject the argument that when a country becomes powerful it is bound to seek hegemony. We want to live in concord and develop in harmony with the people of other countries to pursue, protect, and benefit from peace together....The Chinese people's efforts to realize the Chinese dream will bring the world huge opportunities.... China will take the initiative to shoulder more international responsibility, work with other countries to stand for human conscience and international justice, uphold justice in international and regional affairs, and take a more active part in seeking solutions to flashpoint issues. By protecting world peace it will develop itself, and using its own development it will promote world peace." President Xi also pointed out that building a global community with a shared future can replace old geopolitical notions of zero-sum games and "winner takes all," and that it more closely aligns the dreams of the Chinese people with those of people from other countries.
In addition to the concept of a global community with a shared future, President Xi is responsible for formulating the Belt and Road Initiative and has worked tirelessly to promote it, so as to provide a practical platform for achieving the former. In 2013, during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, he proposed constructing the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, respectively. To make this initiative a reality, he also proposed the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and announced, on behalf of the Chinese government, that it would invest US$ 40 billion to establish the Silk Road Fund, reflecting the firm will of China to develop in tandem with the rest of the world. The Belt and Road Initiative is not an empty slogan, but a visible and tangible endeavor that will bring real benefits to regions and countries. President Xi suggested that China should build on its momentum to achieve greater success by building the Belt and Road into a road for peace, of prosperity, of greater openness, of innovation, and that connects different civilizations, making it the broadest platform for international cooperation in keeping with the trend of economic globalization.
Having been personally introduced and promoted by President Xi, and thanks to the joint efforts of relevant parties, substantial steps have been taken to construct the Belt and Road, and the initiative is making solid, sustained, and steady progress, facilitating high-quality development, showing the world the broad prospects for building a global community with a shared future, and lending strong momentum to achieving this goal.
II. Addressing global and epochal issues and enhancing understanding of a global community with a shared future
Having initially explained the concept of building a global community with a shared future, President Xi continued to contemplate and improve his important concept.
In October 2015, he gave a speech at a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of London in the United Kingdom in which he explained that the original aim of building a global community with a shared future was to "contribute China's wisdom and strength to promoting world economic growth and improving global governance." He also stated, "China's development has benefited from cooperation with the international community, and China will, in turn, contribute to the development of the global family of nations. China has always advocated international cooperation and actively practiced multilateralism and will unswervingly follow a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. As China becomes more powerful, we will gradually shoulder more responsibilities to match our capabilities, and we will contribute both China's wisdom and strength to world economic growth and global governance. Our development will not be at the expense of other countries, but rather will serve to expand common interests."
In November of the same year, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, President Xi spoke of the ability of global efforts to address climate change to inspire and promote building a global community with a shared future: "Facing global challenges, all countries ought to increase dialogue and exchange best practices. We should learn from each other's strengths to make up for our shortcomings, draw on each other's experiences to achieve common development, and deliver benefits to all our peoples. At the same time, we should advocate harmony despite differences and allow each country to seek solutions that best suit their own national conditions."
In September 2016, President Xi Jinping explained this concept further in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China: "China's development has benefited from the international community, and we are ready to provide more public goods in return....The new mechanisms and initiatives launched by China are not intended to reinvent the wheel or to target any other country. Rather, they are designed to complement and improve current international mechanisms with a view to realizing mutually beneficial cooperation and shared development." In other words, China opening further to the outside world is not a solo act, but an invitation to all. It is not designed to establish China's own sphere of influence, but to support the common development of all countries.
In a speech at the UN Office at Geneva in January 2017, President Xi explained in detail the motivation, vision, and course of action for building a global community with a shared future. At the start of his speech, he posed famous global and epochal questions: "Today's world is full of uncertainties and people long for a bright future but are unsure about what lies in store. What is happening to the world? And how should we respond? These are questions that everyone is reflecting on and that are also very much on my mind." He reviewed humankind's development progress, difficulties, and aspirations during the previous century. He pointed out that humankind is in an era of major development and profound transformation as well as of myriad challenges and proliferating risks, stressing that, "To let the torch of peace pass from generation to generation; to let the forces of development flow eternally; and to let the light of civilization shine through the ages — this is what the peoples of all nations long for; thus this is the responsibility all statesmen of our generation must shoulder. To see this fulfilled, China's solution is this: to build a global community with a shared future and to realize mutually beneficial development. In this speech, President Xi set out five ways to progress toward a community with a shared future: " build a world of enduring peace through dialogue and consultation"; "build and share together a world of common security"; "build a world of common prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation"; "build an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning"; and "build a clean and beautiful world by pursuing green and low-carbon development."
President Xi's concept of building a global community with a shared future encompasses China's ardent desire to build a better world, and it reflects the hope of people from all countries for a new world order. It has been widely welcomed and supported by the international community, particularly developing countries.
The concept has been included in numerous international documents, including the resolution entitled Social Dimension of the New Partnership for Africa's Development approved by the UN Commission for Social Development on February 10, 2017; the UN Security Council's Resolution 2344 on Afghanistan on March 17; the UN Human Rights Council's resolutions on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Right to Food on March 23; and the UN General Assembly's resolutions on Further Practical Measures for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space on November 2. These inclusions are testament to the widespread recognition President Xi's concept has already achieved among the international community. It serves as the greatest common divisor among people from all over the world who wish for peace, development, and prosperity, and it signals the way forward for better global development, with the help of Chinese wisdom and approaches.
Latvian health experts take part in a video conference on novel coronavirus response at the Chinese embassy in Riga, March 13, 2020. The conference was held between China and 17 Central and Eastern European countries to discuss and share experience and information. This represented a major move by China in its efforts to champion the concept of a global community with a shared future and contribute to global health security. XINHUA / PHOTO BY JANIS
At the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October 2017, promoting a global community with a shared future as part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and as a basic strategy for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era became a new principle around which China aims to guide the trends of the times and the progress of human civilization. The twelfth section of President Xi's report to the 19th National Congress, titled "Following a Path of Peaceful Development and Working to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind," systematically set out the rich and profound meaning of his concept and its value to the times.
In March 2018, the first meeting of the 13th National People's Congress included the building of a global community with a shared future in an amendment to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, thereby elevating it to the status of the will of the country.
President Xi's concept of building a global community with a shared future was formulated from the far-sighted perspective of the future of humankind. It takes into consideration the wider domestic and international situations and reflects China's sense of responsibility and mission as a major country to make a greater contribution to world peace and development in the new era. It also reflects the sincere desire and firm determination of the CPC, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people to build a community with a shared future, advance human development, and create a bright future for the world.
III. Proving the power of the concept to meet humankind's challenges and increase prosperity
Building a global community with a shared future offers solutions to global challenges and a way to reform and improve global governance.
After the 19th National Congress of the CPC, President Xi continued to elaborate on the method for building a global community with a shared future. At the 20th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the establishment of a "community of health," "security community," "development community" and "cultural exchanges community" was proposed for the first time within the framework of the SCO.
The 27th informal meeting of APEC leaders marked the first attempt to elaborate on building an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future featuring openness, inclusiveness, innovation-driven growth, interconnectivity, and mutually beneficial cooperation.
In addition to these occasions, President Xi has mentioned at domestic and foreign events other important initiatives, including building a "cyberspace community with a shared future," "nuclear safety community with a shared future," "maritime community with a shared future," and a "global health community," which have clarified specific aspects of the original concept of building a global community with a shared future. China has also introduced a series of pragmatic measures to promote the construction of a community with a shared future and make the concept a reality. From firmly promoting multilateralism, to working with others to tackle climate change, from high-quality joint development of the B&R Initiative, to leadership of global cooperation on reducing poverty — China's practical actions have led the conceptual "tree" of building a community with a shared future to bear fruit.
The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated the great significance of building a global community with a shared future. Confronted with the most serious global pandemic in a century, humankind has only one path open to it, as identified by President Xi, which is to work toward building a global community with a shared future. China is on the right side of history in the fight against the disease. It has always sought to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of international order. President Xi has held talks, phone calls, and video meetings with dozens of foreign leaders and heads of international organizations and attended the G20 Extraordinary Leaders' Summit, 73rd World Health Assembly, Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against Covid-19, 75th UN General Assembly, and the APEC CEO Dialogues, to explain the importance and necessity of building a global community with a shared future.
China has always fulfilled its international obligations openly, transparently, responsibly, and enthusiastically. It proactively notified the WHO and relevant countries and regional organizations of the discovery of Covid-19 as soon as possible; immediately released the genetic sequence of and other information about the virus; quickly publicized its diagnosis, treatment, and containment plans; and unreservedly shared treatment and containment experiences with all parties. Faced with enormous pressures to contain the virus, it initiated the most urgent and wide-ranging emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, playing its role of the world's largest supplier of anti-epidemic goods, which helped save thousands of lives around the world. China has also promised that any viable Covid-19 vaccine that it produces will be a global public good, as part of China's commitment to making vaccines accessible and affordable to developing countries. Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, China has exempted relevant African countries from outstanding interest-free loans and debts due by the end of 2020, and is increasing support for African countries that face considerable pressures due to Covid-19. All of this vividly illustrates China's role as a major country in promoting the building of a global community with a shared future.
Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, with President Xi Jinping at its core, China has been at the forefront of efforts to contain Covid-19, get people back to work and resume production, and return its economy to positive growth. These achievements have served as a reference for the world to overcome the current crisis and led the concept of a global community with a shared future to become more deeply rooted in people's hearts.
Covid-19 has accelerated a shift in the international order. The world economy is in a deep recession, global industrial chains and supply chains have been disrupted; the damage to governance, credit, development, and peace is still unwinding; unilateralism, protectionism, and domineering behavior are on the rise; and there is a backlash to economic globalization, all of which has intensified risks and uncertainty in the global economy. Faced with complex and severe challenges, now more than ever, humankind needs to strengthen cooperation to overcome difficulties and advance together.
Covid-19 has exposed shortcomings in global governance, and people in the international community wonder what the international order and global governance will look like in the post-pandemic era. In his speech at the first session of the 15th G20 Leaders' Summit, President Xi stated, "The principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits should guide our way forward. We should uphold multilateralism, pursue openness and inclusiveness, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, and keep pace with the times." He proposed strengthening the UN-centered international system, suggesting that all countries should firmly support the UN's authority and standing, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and maintain the international order underpinned by international law. President Xi emphasized the need to improve the governance architecture for economic globalization: "We should firmly safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system that is transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive, and support the reform of the WTO to enhance its effectiveness and authority. We should promote free trade, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, uphold fair competition, and protect the development rights, interests, and space of developing countries." He continued, "We need to build up capacities for tackling global challenges. The most pressing task at the moment is to shore up the global public health system and contain Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. We need to scale up international cooperation on ecology and environment to protect planet Earth, our only homeland."
President Xi Jinping's important expositions on building a global community with a shared future fit with the trends of the times of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit. They have been effective at guiding the theory and practice of China's efforts in major country diplomacy and served as a blueprint for achieving the common development, sustained prosperity, and long-term peace and stability of human society. And they embody China's global vision and desire for complementary development between China and the rest of the world as well as to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, No. 1, 2021)