China’s role in reshaping the world

22 Nov, 2020 - 00:11 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Nancy Chabata

THE year 2020 ends on an extraordinary low as the world battles the global Covid-19 pandemic that has consumed economies and prospects for much of the year, with grave implications for years to come.

The sad and shocking unrelenting nature of the crisis is even manifest in the fact that as the year is about to end, there is a resurgence, the second wave, of the Covid-19 outbreak sweeping across Europe and America. It could be a gloomy Christmas and New Year.

The year closes with the prospect of new leadership in the United States of America, following recent elections that saw Joe Biden being chosen by the American people to lead them, notwithstanding the controversies surrounding the plebiscite and the shenanigans that incumbent Donald Trump is likely to pull as he throws the proverbial last kicks of a dying horse.

There are new and complex dynamics that will shape the world, post-2020.

These require to be unpacked in historical terms: for years now, with the rise of China, the unipolar world in which the United States dominated has been challenged. China has emerged as an economic and political powerhouse, and this year in September the International Monetary Fund stated that the Asian giant had overtaken the US as the globe’s biggest economy, something that is incredible because it has occurred much earlier than previous prognostications.

This sets the stage for a perfect politics battle between the US and China in the post 2020 world. The former’s waning influence means that unipolarity is but effectively over.

The just-ended elections in the United States of America were as much a battle for the soul of that divided and troubled country, as for the control of the world.

For the United States, politicians are fixated with asserting America’s global domination in which it is the sole super-power, wielding all hard and soft power to the disadvantage of other nations and peoples.

The US has been holding on to this dream of American superiority and domination. As such, much of the energies of both the main contestants — incumbent Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden — were spent on showing who could be a better leader to tackle America’s threat to global domination.

On the other hand, China promises to lead a global multipolar world without a single super power, and has done well to project this philosophy. But what are the implications?

Enter President Xi Jinping

The contrast between US and China’s approaches to global world order is staggering, but tells a lot about the leadership philosophies of the two powers.

Whereas the US seeks global domination, China looks for a more peaceful, harmonious, inclusive, co-operating world and believes in multi-polarity and greater good for humanity. President Xi Jinping has shared this philosophy on a number of occasions.

During a speech at the Meeting for Chinese Diplomatic Envoys in 2017 President Xi said the drift towards a multi-polar world was “gaining momentum and the configuration of international dynamics is moving towards balance”.

“This trend is irreversible,” he asserted.

In its own right, China seeks to advance its socialism as opposed to capitalism. However, China’s diplomacy carries much more nuance.

‘‘President Xi says, guided by history, China’s diplomacy embodies, “a holistic approach . . . beyond individual phenomena or specifics to capture the essence of developments and see the broader picture…the main problems and their key features so as not to get disoriented or pursue minor interests to the neglect fundamental ones in a fluid and ever changing world.”

He said this in July 2018, during the central Conference on Foreign Affairs.

He added: “The right approach to China’s role is to be cool-headed in analysing global developments.

We should view China’s role in the context of its relations with the rest of the world so as to clearly define its position and role in an evolving international landscape, and adopt a foreign policy that befits China’s role.”

China’s approach is no doubt rational, pragmatic and well thought out, as opposed to the rash approaches of the United States. Some of the key principles underlying this approach include building a global community of a shared future to safeguard world peace and promote common developments; pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative as a cornerstone inclusive policy; pursuing peaceful development on the basis of mutual respect and win-win co-operation and building global partnerships through pursing a broad diplomatic agenda.

Other key pillars of this approach include steering the reform of the global governance system to promote greater equity and justice and upholding China’s own sovereignty, national security and development interests as a core and non-negotiable position.

Africa under the radar

China has shown itself to be a natural leader for the developing world because of its image at global level and relations with Africa and individual countries.

There is a moral suasion as well as well as pragmatic sense why the rest of the world finds China as a leader.

In Africa, it has won the political and economic turf war against the US, and has expanded its sphere of influence over the past two decades. Countries in Africa see China as a partner and friend.

Countries in Africa do not feel bullied or cowed by China, and its policy of non-interference has earned China lots of respect at a time there is resentment of the US interference in domestic affairs of countries.

Countries such as Zimbabwe are friends and partners of China because they feel secure and even have a role model in China, often looking at the Asian giant as an exemplar of growth and development, underpinned by sheer hard work.

In light of this, China promises a more secure and stable world through its demonstration of leadership.  This implies that post-election America will not do anything much to stop China from a prominent role as the leader of a multipolar world.

Nyasha Chabata is an International Relations student based in Canada.


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