II. An Answer to the Call of the Times and a Blueprint for the Future
Standing at a crossroads, humanity is faced with two opposing options. One is to revert to the Cold War mentality that deepens division and antagonism and stokes confrontation between blocs. The other is to act for the common wellbeing of humanity, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, advocate openness and win-win results, and promote equality and respect. The tug of war between these two options will shape the future of humanity and our planet in a profound way.
To build a global community of shared future is to pursue openness, inclusiveness, mutual benefit, equity and justice. The goal is not to replace one system or civilization with another. Instead, it is about countries with different social systems, ideologies, histories, cultures and levels of development coming together to promote shared interests, shared rights, and shared responsibilities in global affairs. The vision of a global community of shared future stands on the right side of history and on the side of human progress. It introduces a new approach for international relations, provides new ideas for global governance, opens up new prospects for international exchanges, and draws a new blueprint for a better world.
1. Introducing a new approach to international relations
The current international order is facing a myriad of challenges. Some countries, holding to the notion of might makes right, willfully engage in bullying, plundering and zero-sum competition. The development gap is widening and the deficit in security is growing. The isolationist and exclusive practice of alliance-based confrontation runs counter to the trend towards multipolarity and the evolution of international relations in the post-Cold War era. Especially with the rise of a large number of emerging market and developing countries, the current international order is increasingly out of step with the changing times. “What kind of world we need and how to build such a world” has become a vital question with the future of humanity at stake.
China’s answer to this question of the times is to build a global community of shared future. It means that with their futures closely interlocked, all nations and countries should stick together, share weal and woe, live together in harmony, and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation. The idea is based on a reasonable design for state-to-state relations. It reflects the general consensus and common expectations of the international community, and demonstrates China’s sense of duty as a responsible major country.
In this global village, all human beings are one big family. With their interests intertwined and futures interlocked, countries are turning into a community of shared future. Such a vision rises above the exclusive rules of bloc politics, the notion of might makes right, and the “universal values” defined by a handful of Western countries. It conforms to the trend of the times, echoes the call for global cooperation, and contributes to a more just and equitable international order.
2. Highlighting the new features of global governance
The concept of a global community of shared future holds that all countries share a common future, and envisions a world characterized by openness and inclusiveness, equity and justice, harmonious coexistence, diversity and mutual learning, and unity and cooperation.
– Openness and inclusiveness. Countries should not draw lines based on ideology, target specific countries, or gang up to form exclusive blocs. The ocean is vast because it admits all rivers. To build a global community of shared future, countries should advance democracy in international relations to make sure that the future of the world is determined by all, that international rules are written by all, that global affairs are governed by all, and that the fruits of development are shared by all.
– Equity and justice. The world needs justice, not hegemonism. No country has the right to dominate global affairs, dictate the future of others, or monopolize development advantages. Countries should safeguard the international order based on international law, uphold the authority of the international rule of law, and ensure equal and unified application of international law. The practice of double standards or selective application of law should be rejected.
– Harmonious coexistence. Countries should strive to achieve peaceful coexistence and common development by seeking common ground while reserving differences. Planet Earth is not an arena for wrestling between countries, but a stage for human coexistence. Despite their differences and diverse features, countries can develop together in harmony and unity, and it is precisely such diversity that gives strength to global development.
– Diversity and mutual learning. Different histories, national conditions, ethnic groups, and customs have given birth to diverse civilizations. Diversity of human civilizations is a basic feature of our world. Mutual learning among civilizations provides important impetus to human progress. Countries should respect one another and jointly pursue common development through exchanges and mutual learning.
– Unity and cooperation. Countries should act for the greater good. Pursuing development behind closed doors can only result in poverty. Viewed from a “country-first” perspective, the world is small and crowded, and locked in “fierce competition”; viewed from the perspective of a shared future, the world is vast, and full of opportunities for cooperation. No country can overcome global development challenges on its own. Cooperation among all countries is the only viable option.
3. Opening up new prospects for international exchanges
China has made a five-point proposal for building a global community of shared future in the areas of partnerships, security environment, development, inter-civilization exchanges, and ecosystem. This has opened up new prospects for international exchanges.
We should build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals, engage in extensive consultation, and enhance mutual understanding. The principle of sovereign equality runs through the UN Charter. All countries are equals. The big, the mighty and the wealthy should not bully the small, the weak and the poor. We should uphold multilateralism and reject unilateralism. We should replace the outdated mindset of winner takes all with a new vision of seeking win-win outcomes for all. We should forge global partnerships at both international and regional levels, and embrace a new approach to state-to-state relations, one founded on dialogue rather than confrontation and that seeks partnership rather than alliance. In handling their relations, major countries should follow the principles of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. Big countries should treat small countries as equals and take the right approach to friendship and interests, pursuing both friendship and interests and putting friendship first.
We should create a security environment featuring fairness, justice, joint efforts, and shared interests. In the age of economic globalization, the security of all countries is interlinked, and each has an impact on the others. No country can maintain absolute security on its own, and no country can achieve stability by destabilizing others. The law of the jungle leaves the weak at the mercy of the strong; it is not the way for countries to conduct their relations. Those who choose to oppress will invite harm to themselves, like lifting a rock only to drop it on their own feet. We should reject Cold War mentality in all its manifestation, and foster a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
We should promote open, innovative and inclusive development that benefits all. Development is meaningful only when it is inclusive and sustainable. To achieve such development requires openness, mutual assistance and mutually beneficial relations. Long-term global development cannot be founded on one group of countries becoming increasingly prosperous while another group of countries remain chronically poor and backward. Development should be placed high on the international agenda, and efforts should be made to reduce inequality and imbalance in global development, leaving no country or individual behind.
We should increase inter-civilization exchanges to promote harmony, inclusiveness, and respect for differences. There are more than 200 countries and regions, over 2,500 ethnic groups and a vast number of religions in our world. Such cultural diversity is what makes the world colorful. Diversity breeds exchanges, exchanges lead to integration, and integration brings progress. Only by upholding the equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness of civilizations, and working for mutual respect, experience sharing, and harmonious coexistence while preserving diversity, can the world maintain its diversity and thrive. We should respect all civilizations, treat each other as equals, and draw inspiration from each other to boost the creative development of human civilization.
We should build an ecosystem that puts Mother Nature and green development first. Humanity may have the ability to utilize nature and even transform it, but it is still a part of nature. We should care for nature and not place ourselves above it. We should reconcile industrial development with nature, and pursue harmony between humanity and nature to achieve sustainable global development and all-round human development. We should respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it. We should firmly pursue green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable development.
4. Outlining a new vision for building a better world
China proposes to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, common security, and common prosperity. From “the five-point proposal” to “the five goals”, the concept of a global community of shared future has gained a broader historical perspective and deeper meaning, and set a clearer goal and drawn a clearer blueprint for the future of humanity.
We should build a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation. It means beating the swords of war into the plowshares of peace. The stone wall at the entrance to the UNESCO headquarters carries the inscription of one single message: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Throughout human history, obsession with power and hegemony has led to frequent wars and loss of lives. The lessons are painful and profound, and we need to remove the fuses of war from our minds. Big countries should treat the smaller ones as equals instead of seeking unilateral dominance or imposing their will on others. No country should open Pandora’s box by willfully provoking turmoil and armed conflict or undermining the international rule of law. Countries should respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and respect the development path and social system chosen by other peoples.
We should build a world of common security for all through joint efforts. It means turning absolute security for one into common security for all. There is no place in the world that enjoys absolute security, and a country cannot build its security on the turmoil of others. Threats to other countries can turn into a challenge to one’s own country. When neighbors are in trouble, instead of reinforcing one’s own fences, one should extend a helping hand. As challenges often take on global dimensions, it is all the more important for countries to cooperate in addressing them, turning pressure into motivation and crises into opportunities. Unilateral action or blind belief in the use of force cannot address the complex international security threats. The only solution lies in cooperative and common security. It is normal for countries to have differences, and they should be properly addressed through dialogue and consultation. As long as we show sincerity, goodwill and political wisdom, no conflict is too big to resolve and no ice is too thick to break.
We should build a world of common prosperity through win-win cooperation. It means bidding farewell to the winner-takes-all mindset and sharing development achievements. In this day and age, the international community has evolved into a sophisticated and integrated apparatus, as the removal of any single part will cause serious problems to its overall operation. We must keep to the correct direction of economic globalization, and oppose any attempt to set up technological blockades, cause technological divides, or seek development decoupling. While we should make the pie of the global economy bigger, it is even more important to divide it well, so that development achievements can benefit people of all countries more equitably, and bring about true cooperation and win-win results.
We should build an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning. It means bidding farewell to the mindset that one civilization is superior to another and starting to appreciate the strengths of other civilizations. Our world can fully accommodate the common growth and progress of all countries, and success for one country does not mean failure for another. There is no universally applicable development path. A development path that continuously benefits the people is the most viable one. Countries and nations should respect their differences and seek harmony without uniformity, and civilizations should draw strength from each other and make progress together. Exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations should be a driving force for human progress and a strong underpinning for world peace.
We should make our world clean and beautiful by pursuing green and low-carbon development. It means bidding farewell to the destructive exploitation of resources and preserving and enjoying the lush mountains and lucid waters. Humanity coexists with nature. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually come back to haunt us. We often take natural resources such as air, water, soil and blue sky for granted. But we could not survive without them. Industrialization has created a level of material wealth never seen before, but it has also inflicted irreparable damage on the environment. We must not exhaust all the resources passed on to us by previous generations and leave nothing to our children, or pursue development in a destructive way. Lush mountains and lucid waters are invaluable assets. We must follow the philosophy of harmony between humanity and nature and observance of the laws of nature and pursue a path of sustainable development, so that everyone is able to enjoy a starry sky, lush mountains and fragrant flowers.
Building a global community of shared future is China’s proposed strategy for reforming and improving the international governance system. This does not mean that the international system should be dismantled or started afresh. Rather, it means promoting greater democracy in international relations and making global governance more just and equitable. This important vision reflects the broadest common aspiration of the peoples of all countries in pursuit of peace, development, and stability, and the broadest consensus among countries with different cultural backgrounds and at different stages of development. It transcends outdated mindsets such as zero-sum game, power politics, and Cold War confrontations. It has become the overall goal of China’s major-country diplomacy in the new era, and a great banner that leads the trend of the times and the direction of human progress.