China is transforming from a fringe country to a major power. It has covered a long distance from poverty-ridden nation to poverty-free country. It has become second largest economy, centre of global trade, and is turning into new centre of innovation and technology.
China is consolidating its status of major power by launching numerous initiatives of global relevance. First it came up with Belt and Road Initiative which is now enjoying confidence of 152 countries and 32 international organisations. Second, Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank was launched to create a non-political financial institution.
Third, China contributed to help global South materialise dream of development, and the efforts culminated in the establishment of Global Development Initiative. Fourth, China introduced Global Security Initiative to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and development without any discrimination. Fifth, Global Civilisation Initiative was launched to counter notion of clash of civilisations.
These initiatives indicate China wants to be a responsible major power. It is good omen in the prevailing global dynamics where unilateralism is on the rise and hegemonic powers are striving to consolidate their position. These powers are putting efforts to check the rise of China.
China is countering the stormy winds with patience and sailing through the unfriendly waters. However, it has to be conscious that with the passage of time situation will become complicated and complex. It will push China to look for new means of diplomacy, stability and development.
In this backdrop, Asian Institute of Eco-civilisation Research and Development (AIERD) is conducting a study on the future role of China as major power by keeping the current global dynamics as a barometer. AIERD conducted an international seminar on security and development and role of Global Security Initiative. The initial findings of study and outcome of webinar are quite interesting which are discussed below.
First, neutrality will not be an option. China will have to take position on issues which are important for global order. However, positions should be dictated by principles not economic interests. And principles should be devised to promote peace and development at all levels. Recently, China broke a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Second, China will have to refine its international engagement policy in all fields including diplomacy, economy and security. For that purpose, it will have to accelerate policy of constructive engagement and President Xi Vision of proactive diplomacy.
The outcome of two sessions indicates China is cognizant of this fact which is evident from the talk of Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Third, China will have to play a role to protect the legitimate rights, development and security interests of developing world. We know many countries are facing pressure from the powerful countries due to their close relationship with China or as a member of BRI. For example, Pakistan is constantly under pressure to leave CPEC.
Western countries are imposing different conditions and introducing challenges like grey list of FATF etc. Now, Pakistan is facing pressure from IFIs.
Fourth, China should devise tools which can help it introduce Chinese ideology to world. It is pre-requisite to establish the status of a major power. Thus, China will have to share with world what is philosophy of its international relations, security, democracy, governance and economic linkages. However, ideology should not be presented as something supreme. Let the people analyse and decide about the status of ideology. In this context, Global Civilisation Initiative is a step in right direction.
Fifth, China must devise tools which can help deter flattering and arrogance. Flattering is a silent enemy which destroys human or a state from inside. It does not show the impact until damage is done. We have seen the implications of arrogance in the past which led to decline of superpowers. It gives them assurance their ideas are superior and world needs to act on them.
In nutshell, flattering and arrogance paralyse rational thinking and mind. and countries start believing they are immune to mistakes. Thus, China must devise mechanisms to counter flattering and arrogance.
Sixth, the real test of China being a major power would be how it will define the role of power, both economic and military, in the global affairs and bilateral relations. The fundamental questions would be whether China will use power as “deterrence” or “threat”.
It is suggested China should use power as deterrence as world is tired of using power as threat. It has given birth to endless conflicts and wars, turning world into home of multiple problems.
In this backdrop, Global Security Initiative is a good step, but we will have to wait how it will unfold in future. Let’s hope China will be part of solution not problem and work for peaceful co-existence, pursuing a policy of conflict resolution through dialogue. This approach will not only consolidate status of China as a major power, but also respect for it.
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