China’s mega initiatives

Dr Imran Khalid
Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

At the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Civilization Initiative, which marks China’s third significant global initiative, following the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative.

This new initiative is a crucial contribution that China is offering to the world as a valuable public asset. The unending clash of civilizations, where they are trying not only to outcompete but also annihilate others, is the most unsettling element that has disrupted peace and stability on this planet for centuries.

The Global Civilization Initiative proposes four key elements: the promotion of respect for diversity among civilizations, advocacy for shared values among humanity, recognition of the significance of both preserving and innovating civilizations, and encouragement for strong international cooperation and exchanges between people. This initiative encompasses essential principles that enable diverse civilizations to coexist harmoniously, offering both motivation and a practical roadmap towards its realization.

The Global Civilization Initiative, in line with previous three mega initiatives on security and development, represents a highly constructive, practical, and sustainable major undertaking. The world is facing grave challenges, unprecedented in recent history, such as the fear of pandemic outbreaks, the looming threat of conversion of hotspots into a global war, and the impact of climate change, all of which are seriously intimidating global progress and international security. To face such imminent challenges, President Xi Jinping has put forward several initiatives – including the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative as well as the vision of the shared future of humanity.

While these initiatives appear to be addressing three different aspects of the global power fabric, a deeper appraisal of these initiatives would reveal that they are interconnected with each other and are pursuing progress, peace and development as a constant theme. The idea of a shared future for all humanity continues to resonate within these paramount strategic pillars of Xi’s new vision for the next decades. Security and development are integrated with the shared future of humanity.

The Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) work hand in hand to reinforce and complement each other, symbolizing the importance of harmony and interconnectedness. These three initiatives represent China’s contribution to the world as a global public good and offer solutions to the challenges of our era. They embody the vision of creating a world community with shared goals and interests in the fields of security and development.

Development relies on security, and security is reinforced by development. Xi’s vision is rooted in the pursuit of peace and harmony. The launch of the three initiatives reflects China’s commitment to morality and its crucial role in shaping the world today.

The initiatives provide valuable guidance and direction for addressing the development deficit and security challenges faced by the global community. They align with the global need for economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic, given rising inflation and crises in areas such as trade, energy, and food security.

China actively seeks out opportunities for friendship and cooperation with other nations and is prepared to collaborate with the international community to implement the GDI and the GSI. The GSI Concept Paper, which was released in February, outlines core principles and concepts, as well as 20 areas of cooperation and five platforms/mechanisms of cooperation. The document serves as an action-oriented guide and represents an important step for China in putting its proposed GSI into practice.

By releasing the concept paper, China has demonstrated its commitment to preserving global security and assuming responsibility for promoting world peace. In light of the present era of new cold-war tensions, the release of this concept paper is a significant contribution by China to the global community, presenting a Chinese solution to address the emerging security challenges and to seek a new exploration of better channels for the prosperity of humanity.

The GSI Concept Paper encapsulates the six founding commitments made by President Xi Jinping during the initiative’s launch at the Boao Forum in April last year. These commitments include promoting Xi’s ‘common, comprehensive, coop

erative and sustainable security concept’. The subsequent sections of the new concept paper present a broad framework for China’s vision of a post-American international security structure. The Priorities for Cooperation section outlines how China intends to address transnational security challenges and foster stability in various regions, including ‘flashpoints’ scattered all across the globe.

Similarly, the GDI is an indication of China’s aspirations to become a world leader in development cooperation on its own style and conditions. Its emphasis on poverty reduction, healthcare, environmental sustainability, and digital transformation aligns with global momentum towards innovation and sustainability, without ignoring the pressing demands of pandemic response and economic retrieval in numerous nations.

The GDI is more than just a collection of development initiatives that is initiated by China to ‘sponsor’ infrastructure development in the Global South. This approach centers on the belief that ‘development’ – defined by China as economic progress in tangible terms – is the ultimate solution to all problems, from poverty to conflict and instability. China’s successful model of elevating 800 million people out of poverty in the past 40 years and completely eradicating absolute poverty in 2021 is a corroboration of its highly successful development strategy.

Capitalizing on this accomplishment, the Chinese government has prioritized poverty reduction as a significant aspect of its development cooperation strategy, aiming to create a ‘Global Community of Shared Future Free from Poverty’.

It is important to examine how effectively and persuasively Beijing will use the GDI as a diplomatic and discursive tool to promote Chinese governance norms, unite other countries in broad and flexible coalitions that align with China’s global vision and agenda, and weaken the normative influence and leadership of the US in the existing global power structure. The driving force behind the GDI is the desire to align China’s international engagement with its domestic economic priorities, which are increasingly focused on sustainable, inclusive, and innovation-driven growth under President Xi’s initiative towards shared prosperity.

Xi’s vision of a shared future, which emphasizes understanding and shared institution-building, differs fundamentally from the prevailing American idea of building a future through competition. This vision, which is primarily based on China’s traditional cultural values – particularly the principles of harmony and equality – emphasizes that if one country selfishly focuses solely on its own success while its neighbours are left behind, this imbalance could lead to conflicts that ultimately harm all the stakeholders. One could view it as a product of China’s historical exchange and cross-cultural communication with other civilizations.

So, it does not come as a surprise when we find the common basic concepts connecting the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the vision of a shared future of mankind. This is perhaps a great approach. Beijing, without undermining the merit of existing global institutions like the UN, is seriously pursuing the establishment of more workable and productive platforms for rapid harmonization of the civilizations through coexistence, tolerance, exchanges and mutual learning.

The GDI emphasizes both inclusiveness and independence, with a particular focus on addressing the unique needs of developing countries and resolving issues of unequal and insufficient development both within and among nations. Meanwhile, the GSI upholds national sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs, and the right of all countries to independently choose their development paths and social institutions. By prioritizing the happiness and well-being of the people, the GSI aims to enhance both their sense of security and well-rounded human development.

As it promotes respect for diverse civilizations and acknowledges their rights to development, the Global Civilization Initiative responds effectively to the pressing needs of the international community. These initiatives not only improve people’s overall well-being and sense of happiness but also promote a sense of security, leading to holistic human development and synergistic coexistence of civilizations.

The three initiatives provide effective solutions to reduce the burden of conflicts and germinate the seeds of coexistence and shared future of mankind. Therefore, there are ample reasons to anticipate that the Global Civilization Initiative, in conjunction with the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, will continue to instill stability and inspire fresh hope in a world characterized by unending competition and conflicts that are impeding humanity’s march towards modernization.

The writer is a freelance contributor.