While global governance involves competing international institutions and norms, the making of such institutions and norms has been controlled by big powers of the world throughout history. The current global governance institutions centered on the United Nations were gradually improved and formed under the leadership of the US in the decades after World War II.
As globalization and global governance institutions are seeing a series of changes and challenges today, it’s important to understand new changes in the first place so as to find a way to innovate the current institutions.
Three changes in globalization and global governance
Firstly, a change in globalization and global governance was caused by the global political and economic landscape change which is triggered by the rise of developing countries such as China, and the Great Convergence of developed countries and developing countries after the industrial revolution. This has also helped to promote a shift from the original global governance institutions led by Western countries to the one jointly led by Eastern and Western countries.
The change is also due to the death of Western neoliberal economics, which led to an ideological void and chaos in global governance. Thereafter, the demand to find a new ideology has turned people’s attention to Oriental civilizations, especially China. The 2008 financial crisis which depressed the global economy has also intensified the demand to find a new engine and new model for economic growth, and new global governance institutions.
Thirdly, as the side effects of globalization have gradually become visible, anti-globalization forces such as populists are rising and changing political ecologies in some major developed countries, like the US and UK. Such anti-globalization forces are weakening supporters of globalization and shaking the original global governance institutions including the free trade institutions and investment institutions.
The idea of global governance was put forward by Europe in the 1990s in the context of an extensive globalization and the collapse of the Iron Curtain after the Cold War. With the development of economic globalization and the occurrence of a series of global crises, such as financial crisis, trade conflicts, immigration, regional conflicts, cross-border water resource conflicts, as well as climate change, people began to realize that globalization is a “boat” that everyone is on and a zero-sum logic cannot be applied in the era of globalization.
Chinese President Xi Jinping once described China’s current relationship with the world in three sentences, which are, China has never been as close to its dream of bringing about a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as today; China has already been standing on the center of the world stage; and China is now standing on a new historical point.
China is now an important leader in global governance after the efforts it has made in global affairs in the past few years, including the 2008 G20 Summit when it became one of the core members of the global governance institutions, becoming the world’s second-largest economy in 2010 when its economy surpassed that of Japan, as well as the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September this year.
Historically, China’s development overlapped with the development of global governance institutions, which somehow manifests the significant role of China’s ideology in global governance innovation and what President Xi has put forward - let the “China plan” and “China wisdom” provide the “Global Commons” to the world.
China, a beneficiary and defender of current institutions
This year’s G20 Summit in China and BRICS Summit in India have put the global spotlight on emerging economies, in particular China which is expected to lead the innovation of global governance.
First of all, China should unswervingly maintain the global governance institutions formed after World War II and centered on the United Nations, because such institutions represent the common interest of the whole global community which has suffered from wars. China is not only a major beneficiary of the current global governance institutions, but also defender, constructor and contributor of the institutions, instead of “destroyer and corrector” as the West has put it.
Meanwhile, China should also keep pushing the development of new international institutions like G20, BRICS Summit, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank, and promote mutual development in global governance, so as to win more say and decision-making rights for developing countries.
In addition, innovation of global governance ideology requires communication and convergence of different civilizations and cultures. Last year, President Xi proposed Asia Civilization Dialogue Conference during the BOAO Forum to boost multidimensional communication. China has also been actively practicing its Belt and Road Initiative to promote policy communication and global governance innovation.
The new model of major country relationship between China and the US, which is “No Conflict, No Confrontation, Mutual Respect, and Win-Win Cooperation”, put forward by President Xi has opened up a new path for win-win cooperation and peaceful coexistence of major powers. Today, only when major countries manage their relationships in accordance with such a new pattern, can the world maintain peace and see a sustainable economic growth.
He Yafei is former Chinese vice foreign minister and deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com.)