China’s active role in global governance
Editor's note: Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan is the Executive Director of The Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad. He is also a regional expert on China, BRI & CPEC. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The world is rapidly changing. Old powers of the international system are now struggling to maintain their positions and jointly working for the status quo through the constant containment policy of China. However, the dawn of Asia century and phenomenal rise of China in the last decade have changed the landscape of global governance system.
Over the past 10 years, 181 countries have established diplomatic relations with China. 149 countries and 32 international organizations have been attracted to participate in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
Peaceful pursuits of China’s diplomacy at the international stage have won the hearts of people around the globe. Now global economic, energy, climate change, financial, humanitarian assistance, development and last but not least, health and internet orientations have new players like China.
In this regard, China has been working with developing countries to fix the emerging global governance challenges by institutionalizing a new global governance philosophy that promotes inclusiveness, transparency, openness and emphasizes extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits for all.
The Chinese policy makers in the last decade have re-adjusted their international development strategy from a bilateral to a multilateral one by gradually increasing its influence in traditional global organizations such as the World Bank and the UN Development Program as well as launching alternative global initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Shared Prosperity,Global Development Initiative (GDI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI). Ultimately, China’s role in the global governance system has increased manifolds.
According to Chinese official data (2021-2022), more than 55 countries have supported its GDI pledging with the Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative in less than a year after its launch. Its GSI and shared prosperity concept have gained momentum among the developing countries, international communities and international organizations alike which have further enhanced its role in the global governance system.
Critical analysis reveals that China’s evolving global governance strategy is most apparent in four major issues: global health, internet governance, climate change, and development finance.
China actively promoted international cooperation to improve global public health governance, so as to build concerted strength against the common diseases. During the COVID-19 crisis China delivered vaccines to more than 120 countries (2 billion). It also offered assistance to countries including Iran, Italy, Pakistan, and Spain in their fights against the epidemic. Furthermore, China stepped forward to fill the gap left by the sudden withdrawal of the US from the WHO and provided humanitarian assistance and crucial financial assistance in the time of international crisis.
China is also one of the staunch supporter for international cooperation on climate change. Subsequently, China has reduced the role of fossil fuels in its energy mix and become the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy.
In the past ten years, China’s share of global GDP has more than doubled, from 7.4 percent in 2001 to more than 18 percent in 2021. China engages in more trade than any other country which shows its increasing role in the global economic system. In addition to this, Beijing had established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which played an important role in the regional as well as international economic development.
In terms of safeguarding world peace, China is the second largest financial contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping budget, behind the United States, and the leading deployer of peacekeepers among the permanent five countries in the world.
China seeks to become a leader in global internet governance and to promote the idea of cyber sovereignty. Chinese companies are also leading the race in patents and standards for the fifth generation of wireless communication standards (5G).
BRI contains a Digital Silk Road initiative that includes inviting foreign officials to participate in workshops on information technology policy, including controlling the internet.
To conclude, the Chinese emerging global political, economic, energy, food, green energy, climate change and innovation driven role in the global governance system discourages the perpetual mentality of geopolitical games, and created a new model of true international cooperation. It is cooperative, coordinative and collaborative. It is an open and inclusive cooperation system. It is not just China’s solo effort, or so-called hegemonic obsession as the West dubbed but a vivid reflection of collective wisdom and desire of all the developing countries around the globe.