Defining True Multilateralism: China’s Approach at the UNGA
During the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) discussions, different approaches to multilateralism have taken center stage. The US’s presence at the UNGA was observed by some as turning the assembly into a platform that accentuates its leadership and promotes its “multilateral approach.” However, China, represented by Vice President Han Zheng, took this opportunity to emphasize a genuine form of multilateralism and outlined a vision for fostering a world marked by peace, prosperity, openness, and inclusiveness.
The UNGA has historically been a platform for nations to express their positions on global issues, and China was no exception. In the midst of this assembly of global leaders, there were undertones regarding the Taiwan issue, which has been a long-standing point of contention. The Chinese leadership underscored its unwavering stance on Taiwan, particularly as there were attempts by some factions, backed by US interests and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities, to amplify the Taiwan question and position it as a key global debate.
The Distinction Between US and Chinese Approaches
The contrasts between the US and China’s perspectives on multilateralism were evident. Critics have labeled the US’s strategy as “pseudo-multilateralism.” According to them, the US’s approach, which leans heavily on its alliance-centric thinking, often works in favor of perpetuating its global dominance. China, on the other hand, envisions a more inclusive form of global governance. The Chinese approach, as articulated by experts, is to establish a global community that is united in addressing shared challenges and fostering a collective future.
China’s Commitment to True Multilateralism
Han Zheng’s address at the 78th session of the UNGA underlined China’s commitment to fostering a multipolar world and enhancing the equity and fairness of global governance. For Han, respecting the security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of every nation is paramount. He championed the idea that disputes between nations should be resolved through peaceful means, emphasizing dialogue and consultation.
Drawing attention to the Ukraine crisis, Han highlighted China’s stance of endorsing efforts that seek a peaceful resolution. China, he mentioned, is poised to play a constructive role in ensuring early peace in the region.
Laying out China’s vision, Han presented a four-point framework for addressing global challenges:
- Upholding the principles of equity and justice while ensuring peace and security.
- Encouraging mutual benefit, promoting win-win situations, and fostering universal development.
- Adopting an open and inclusive mindset to drive forward human civilization.
- Staying loyal to the tenets of multilateralism and working towards refining global governance.
Furthermore, Han emphasized China’s dedication to the community of developing countries. As the world’s most populous developing nation, China sees itself as an intrinsic part of the Global South, bound by mutual destinies with other developing nations.
Global South in Today’s Geopolitical Landscape
The concept of the “Global South” has grown in significance, especially in the context of the strategic rivalry among major global powers. Zhu Jiejin, a professor at Fudan University, commented on the triad of requests coming from the Global South: neutrality in global competitions, avoidance of bloc confrontations, and prevention of a new cold war. These requests underscore the crucial role that developing nations play in halting the resurgence of a cold war-like situation. Consequently, the term “Global South” has evolved to carry not just economic implications but also profound political significance.
However, there’s a caveat. As “Global South” gains momentum in international diplomacy, there are claims that Western powers, led by the US, are co-opting this term, attempting to alienate China and challenge its status as a developing nation. Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, voiced concerns about the US’s version of multilateralism. According to him, the US promotes a form of multilateralism that caters to its hegemonic ambitions, in stark contrast to the open and inclusive multilateralism many developing countries, including China, champion.
Moving Beyond Hegemonism
While Han didn’t directly allude to the US in his UNGA speech, the undercurrents were evident. He stressed China’s opposition to hegemonism, power politics, and the resurrection of a cold war mindset. Han voiced concerns over unilateral sanctions implemented by some countries, pointing out their detrimental effects on international relations’ harmony and stability.
In conclusion, the discussions at the UNGA underlined the pressing need to revisit and redefine true multilateralism in today’s global landscape. While the US and China presented contrasting visions, it’s evident that the future of global cooperation and peace hinges on fostering genuine dialogue, understanding, and inclusivity.
Addressing the Taiwan Question in the Global Context
During the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), China’s stance on Taiwan and multilateralism became pivotal points of discussion. Amid the proceedings, certain nations and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities from Taiwan attempted to revive familiar themes, emphasizing Taiwan’s participation in the UN as an independent entity. This emphasis reignited the longstanding debate around Taiwan’s sovereignty and its place in global diplomacy.
China’s Stance on the Taiwan Question
Han, representing China, delivered a stern message during the UNGA sessions. According to him, China has consistently prioritized its sovereignty and territorial integrity. He emphasized that the People’s Republic of China’s government is the sole legitimate entity representing all of China. For China, Taiwan’s status as an integral part of its territory isn’t a contemporary political stance but one rooted in history.
Han’s words carried a tone of resoluteness, highlighting China’s determination to defend its territorial sovereignty. He cautioned against underestimating the Chinese people’s unwavering resolve, robust will, and significant capability to protect their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
International Voices on Taiwan’s Inclusion
A handful of countries, which still maintain what are termed as “diplomatic ties” with Taiwan, made their stance known during the UNGA. Nations like Guatemala, Paraguay, and Palau voiced their support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN, as reported by local media in Taiwan. Furthermore, Czech President Petr Pavel brought attention to the Chinese military activities around the Taiwan Straits in his UNGA address.
Xin Qiang, the deputy director of the American Studies Center at Fudan University, commented on the recurring efforts by the DPP authorities. He noted that, backed by the US-led West, the DPP authorities annually use the UNGA platform to push for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN. This push, Xin believes, is an attempt by Taiwan to carve out a broader space for itself in the international arena.
Considering that the UNGA takes place in the US, Xin highlighted the active role the US has been playing in accentuating the Taiwan question and its endeavors to position it as a topic of international concern.
Analyzing the Global Repercussions
However, a section of the expert community perceives these recurrent efforts as mere distractions. They argue that these attempts, often viewed as rehearsed tactics, aren’t likely to sway the international community’s opinion significantly. The one-China principle, they argue, is a widely accepted understanding in global circles. Furthermore, the predominant focus of developing nations during UNGA has been on addressing non-traditional security challenges.
Yet, this hasn’t deterred some Western politicians from spotlighting the Taiwan issue. There’s an observable effort to place the Taiwan question in the international spotlight, drawing parallels between it and the Ukraine crisis. Xin Qiang warns against this comparison. According to him, this is a potential narrative trap. He argues that the Russia-Ukraine conflict’s dynamics are fundamentally different from the intricacies of cross-Straits relations.
The Taiwan question, with its deep historical roots and contemporary geopolitical implications, remains a contentious point in global politics. As discussions during the UNGA indicated, countries and global leaders are divided on the matter. While China reaffirms its long-standing stance on Taiwan’s integral status to its territory, other nations, particularly those in the West, seem keen on repositioning the debate. As global dynamics shift and the emphasis on multilateralism becomes more pronounced, the Taiwan issue’s trajectory will undoubtedly be a focal point in international diplomacy.