TOP

'Xi Jinping at the Virtual Davos: Multilateralism with Chinese characteristics'

Atlantic Council

Malcolm Riddell

|

CHINADebate

|

Hung Tran | Atlantic Council

'Xi Jinping at the Virtual Davos: Multilateralism with Chinese characteristics''Xi Jinping at the Virtual Davos: Multilateralism with Chinese characteristics'
Book
Interview
'

'

|

|
Multi-Lateralism, Chinese-Style
2
Interview

|

|
Multi-Lateralism, Chinese-Style
2

Multi-Lateralism, Chinese-Style

2

Multi-Lateralism, Chinese-Style

‘At the virtual Davos this week, Xi essentially proposed a multilateralism with Chinese characteristics—designed to ensure that international interactions be conducted in accordance with China’s perspectives.’

‘On Monday, at the first virtual version of the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos gathering, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a major speech describing multilateralism as “the torch” that will illuminate “humanity’s way forward.” ’

  • ‘The statement is reminiscent of Xi’s promotion of globalization at a previous Davos meeting in 2017, around the time that former US President Donald Trump was threatening a series of unilateral trade actions against China and other countries.’

‘While international cooperation within multilateral frameworks is indeed crucial in addressing many of the serious challenges presently facing the world, it is important to recognize that not all calls for multilateralism are the same.’

  • ‘The particulars of the multilateral vision inform how international cooperation works in practice.’
  • ‘And Xi’s vision of multilateralism differs in key aspects from the conceptions of multilateralism espoused by much of the world.’

‘First and foremost, Xi characterized the charter of the United Nations (UN) as containing “the basic and universally recognized norms governing state-to-state relations,” but failed to mention that the same charter also “reaffirm(s) faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.” ’

  • ‘Arguing that “each country is unique with its own history, culture, and social system, and none is superior to the other,” Xi rejected “meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.” ’
  • ‘Xi’s advocacy of sovereign equality among nations and non-interference in countries’ internal affairs has been directed toward warding off criticism of China’s violations of the human and democratic rights of the people in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.’

‘Since criticism of those rights violations has come mainly from developed countries in the West, while many developing countries have supported China’s defense against that criticism, Xi’s remarks point to fundamentally different notions of multilateralism.’

  • ‘Is multilateralism to be based on state rights as sovereign equals that accept no meddling in their internal affairs? Or’
  • ‘Is it instead to be based on universal human rights to which people aspire all over the world—on the notion that governments anywhere should be held accountable for respecting the basic rights of their citizens?’

‘Xi’s emphasis on the uniqueness of each country’s system and non-interference in internal affairs also has major implications for international economic and trade relationships.’

  • ‘In his speech Xi advocated respect for global trading rules, but only to the extent that those rules do not interfere with China’s economic system.’
  • ‘The Chinese system involves state guidance and support for both state-owned and non-state-owned companies, exercised not only through state laws and regulations but also by embedding Chinese Communist Party cells in companies.’
  • ‘These conditions have made it impossible for international companies to operate on a level playing field when trading with or investing in China.’

‘These systemic differences between China and the West should inform current efforts to reform the global trading system based on the World Trade Organization.’

  • ‘Instead of only focusing on changing or improving global rules, more work should be directed toward developing practical ways to ensure reciprocity between trading partners in their treatment of each other’s companies—and even reciprocity of outcomes from that trade for citizens in each country.’

‘At the virtual Davos this week, Xi essentially proposed a multilateralism with Chinese characteristics—designed to ensure that international interactions be conducted in accordance with China’s perspectives.’

  • ‘What should be clear after Xi’s address is that when China’s leader invokes multilateralism, he doesn’t have in mind what many others in the international community do.’
  • ‘That chasm needs to be recognized—and bridged.’
Go to
In-Depth