China: Shifting from a participant to a leader of the new world order
By Wenshan Jia
On February 17, 2017, about two weeks ahead of China’s annual Political Consultative Conference to be kicked off on March 3, 2017 and China’s annual People’s Congress to be kicked off on March 5, 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on China, for the first time, to GUIDE the global community in the effort to make the world order more just and more reasonable at the National Security Seminar.
I interpret this vow as the clarion call for Chi-globalization which I predicted in the book chapter “Chiglobalization? A Cultural Argument” included in the book China in the Era of Globalization edited by Sujian Guo & Baogang Guo published in 2009.
At many occasions in the past, Xi had called on China to merely PARTICIPATE in the creation of a new world order or LEAD in new economic globalization. Xi’s call on China to take leadership in improving the world order is significantly above and beyond China’s leadership in economic globalization.
It occurred at the historic moment when leaders of the existing unjust and unreasonable, thus consequentially bankrupt, world order such as the US and UK have begun to retreat from or resist against globalization.
Such a shift to taking the comprehensive leadership from a followership or partial leadership in global affairs not only symbolizes China’s growing confidence in the Chinese approaches to improve global governance by creating global institutions such as AIIB, but also China’s readiness to integrate domestic and global affairs into a new form of synergy or symbiosis.
What is more, it indicates a grateful China’s kind-hearted willingness to accept the baton of human civilization to build upon the strengths of the existing globalization in return for the benefits China has reaped from its four decades’ participation in the existing world order led by the US.
Some of the benefits China have entertained include China’s current rank of No. 2 economy in the world, the rise of its three hundred million middle-class population, and about six hundred million people lifted out of poverty.
Informed by the Chinese experience of reform and opening up during the past forty years and even the revolutions during the 160 years since the Opium War, the current Chinese leadership is fully aware that a more open China means a more prosperous China which further implicates a more prosperous world.
On a deeper level, the contemporary Chinese development model, inherently pragmatic, is consequentially open-ended, diverse and cosmopolitan, defying any single ideological definition out of the modern Western dualistic thinking.
Inheriting from and further developing out of the experience of the traditional Chinese integration of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, contemporary China has hammered out a new ideological complex-a trinity or synergy of Confucianism, Marxism & Capitalism.
While Confucianism is credited for maintaining social harmony and reasonableness in public policy in China, Marxism is credited for justice and equality. Capitalism is obviously credited for bringing economic freedom and consequentially wealth both among people and the regions of Chinese society and between Chinese society and all parts of the world.
As I stated in “Chiglobalization? A Cultural Argument”: “It is neither Chinese culture alone nor the American culture alone that has been propelling China into the status of a global superpower with increasing possibility to overtake the US in the next half of this century.
It is the creative fusion of the Chinese culture and the American (Western) culture, or, to use Joshua Ramo’s words, Chinese culture’s capability for localizing foreign cultures which has made China the top contender for the status of the next superpower in the 21st century.”
China has been socially, politically, and economically successful so far not because of a single ideology excluding the other two, but because of the creative symbiosis of the three apparently contradictory yet mutually complementary ideologies.
Unlike China, Western countries such as the US and UK has executed wide and thus wild swings from one single ideology to another, i.e., from globalization to populism, from liberalism to conservatism, causing imbalance and instability both domestically and globally.
In contrast, the creative mix of the Chinese model provides balance and stability, justice and equality, inclusion and cosmopolitanism. This unique Chinese model of diversity, inclusivity and balance did not come out easily, though. It took a lot of blood and sweat on the part of Chinese people during the past 160 years since the Opium War. Ultimately, it is the yield of 5000 years’ Chinese history of trial and error.
Such a model has been extended in China’s effort to assist in the development of Africa during the past decade and has yielded some remarkable results. It is also being further extended to the One Belt and One Road project which China proposed and initiated more than three years ago, a global platform for new globalization. It is anticipated that the Belt & Road Summit for International Cooperation, to be hosted by China in Beijing, May 2017, will give a big push to this global initiative.
President Xi Jinping’s call on China to guide the global community in the effort to make the world order more just and reasonable should not only be interpreted as a call for both China and the world to study and creatively apply this uniquely cosmopolitan Chinese model in their practice, but also should be understood as an invitation for the upcoming China’s Political Consultative Conference and China’s People’s Congress to more deeply ponder this model and create related policy tools and public goods to make the world more just, more secure and more win-win. In this sense, these two upcoming congresses or the so-called “two sessions” will make history by prioritizing global governance issues for the first time in the history of P. R. China. Therefore, these two congresses deserve heightened global attention.
Wenshan Jia, Ph. D., Professor, School of Communication, Chapman University Research Fellow, the National Academy of Development & Strategy, Renmin University of China