YU Hongjun: On the right side of history

  • YU Hongjun: China Forum Expert, former vice-minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee

    It has become an urgent task to reshape relations between major countries and reform the global governance structure

    The world is undergoing the most complex and profound changes since the end of the Cold War. The prominent feature of these changes is that the international political and economic order, the security situation in hotspot areas, the reform of the global governance system and the overall progress of human civilization are faced with unprecedented challenges. Among them is the unwillingness of the West to relinquish its Cold War mentality. The attempt to use the transatlantic partnership to counter the Sino-Russian strategic partnership of cooperation and the bid to create an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a means to contain China's peaceful rise are not conducive to global peace and stability. Nor is that mentality beneficial to reform of the global governance system.
    Countries must respect each other. The prerequisite for mutual respect is the recognition of the diversity of human civilizations, recognition of the differences in the social development of various countries and recognition of different value orientations. Mutual respect is based on understanding and recognizing the history and culture and values of others as well as their choice of development models and governance systems and heeding their security concerns.


    All members of the international community, especially global powers that shoulder greater responsibilities for world peace, stability, progress and development, must make more efforts to treat countries as equals.
    All countries, big or small, founded earlier or at a later period, have equal status in international law and equal sovereign rights and there should be no interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Countries' rights and interests should not be violated. This is indisputable and undeniable. Regrettably, the law of the jungle where the strong eat the weak, the imperial thinking of the big and the rich bullying the small and the poor, actions seeking spheres of influence and the group behavior still prevail. But no country should seek to subvert legitimate regimes on the grounds of humanitarian intervention or so-called democratic transformation.
    No matter whether from the perspective of theory or practice, the foreign policy and foreign relations of any country need to be constantly reviewed, evaluated and adjusted. Those world powers with heavy imperial burdens that have left deep grievances in the vast number of developing countries in particular need to comprehensively and objectively readjust their relations to uphold respect and egalitarianism. They need to demonstrate courage and determination to keep up with the times.
    China is making every effort to promote world peace and development. In recent years, it has vigorously advocated and practiced the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind and its diplomatic practice of treating all countries as equals has had significant and far-reaching influence.
    Countries also need to have the courage to hold candid dialogues. Dialogue is the most basic and common form of diplomatic relations. Such dialogues can be conducted either bilaterally or multilaterally and can be conducted through open or secret channels. The refusal of some countries to have contact and dialogue with other countries will not help solve problems. Instead, it will only accumulate more contradictions and brew bigger conflicts.
    The current era is ultimately an era in which peace and development are the common aspirations of all peoples, and an era in which dialogue and cooperation are moving toward common progress. Cooperation between major countries should be not only bilateral, but also multilateral. The cooperation should not be partial but comprehensive. Cooperation must not only conform to the current norms of international relations and moral principles, but also stand the test of history. In recent years, China has vigorously promoted the Belt and Road Initiative to open up new paths and paradigms for cooperation, connectivity and development on a global scale.
    Countries must shoulder responsibilities together. The world today is full of opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation between countries have become increasingly close, with development interests and security concerns being highly compatible. Mankind has increasingly become a community with a shared future that shares weal and woe. On the other hand, the differences in systems, philosophies, conflicts of interest and competition over national strength among countries have become deep-rooted. The traditional and non-traditional security issues facing countries are intertwined and aggravating each other. In the face of ever-increasing and increasingly severe common problems, such as the huge threats posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak, no nation can stand alone. Countries must cooperate with each other, coordinate their actions, continue to improve the multilateral trading system, and strive to uphold the global governance system with the United Nations as the core to maintain the integrity of the global governance system and global industrial chains, supply chains and innovation chains.
    In short, for major countries, the only option if they are to stand on the right side of history is for them to jointly build a new type of major-country relationship featuring balanced, stable and coordinated development. It is hoped that major countries, especially those that have been negatively affecting the geopolitical situation with their unilateralism and causing unnecessary tensions between major countries, can clearly recognize the historical trend, clearly judge what is at stake, adjust their policies in a timely manner, and participate in the process of reshaping major-country relations with a more responsible attitude. In doing so, the construction of a new positive pattern of major-country relations that the international community has long been anticipating will truly become a reality, instead of being reduced to empty talk.

    (The article is first published in China Daily on Agu 3, 2021.)

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