Economic Statecraft
20th Congress of the CPC and China’s New Vision of the World Order

The Chinese leadership believes that the main reason for the current changes in international relations lies in the acceleration of the transfer of power between East and West, which is a reflection of changes in the structure of the world order. From a historical point of view, this process of transfer of power will be a long-term process, writes Xu Bo, Professor at the Northeast Asia Research Center of Jilin University (Changchun, China).

The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was held in Beijing from October 16 to 22, 2022, is crucial for the development of the country’s diplomacy. Xi Jinping’s report confirmed the main achievements of China’s development over the past ten years, but also indicated the main problems and challenges that Beijing faces in the future.

The judgments about the evolution of the current world order, especially Xi Jinping’s opinion about the changes in the environment around China, will determine the priorities of foreign policy for a long time to come. Therefore, although scholars mainly emphasise that the main significance of the 20th CPC Congress for China is domestic political stability, one cannot ignore Beijing’s view of the new world order.

Changes and judgments

The most important judgment of the 20th CPC Congress on international relations is that China finds itself in a world that is undergoing radical change. The main task of Chinese diplomacy is to cope with these changes and use the opportunities brought by the changes to shape China’s important position in the new world order.

At the 20th CPC Congress, Xi Jinping’s judgment on changes in the world order includes the following aspects:

First, Beijing still believes that the historical trend towards peace and development cannot be stopped, but the country’s leadership also notes that these are not the only topics of current international relations. At the same time, the report emphasises that human society has faced unprecedented challenges, and the whole world has once again stood at the crossroads of historical development. Beijing attributes the root causes of today’s global turmoil to “peace deficits, development deficits, security deficits, and governance deficits.” Among them, the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukrainian crisis are the most important factors affecting the development of international relations, as well as the real challenges that China must face.

Second, the Chinese leadership believes that the main reason for the current changes in international relations lies in the acceleration of the transfer of power between East and West, which is a reflection of changes in the structure of the world order. From a historical point of view, this process of transfer of power will be a long-term process. At the same time, the hegemonism and power politics adopted by the United States have become a source of instability in the world. Therefore, China needs to protect its national interests during the power transfer process, while at the same time creating strategic opportunities for its further development through active diplomatic activity.

Third, Beijing believes that the current turmoil in international relations, on the one hand, worsened the conditions for China’s development, but, on the other hand, provided the country with opportunities for further participation in global governance. In order to increase China’s own role, it is necessary to further promote the multi-polarity of the world and the establishment of a new type of international relations. This includes expanding the influence of the BRICS, SCO and other cooperation mechanisms, while increasing the representation of, and providing a voice to, emerging market and developing countries in international affairs. At the same time, China should also actively participate in the development of fair rules for global security.

Economic Statecraft
Xi Jinping's Foreign Policy Thinking and Sino-Russian Cooperation in the Changing of the International Order
Xu Bo
The close bilateral relationship between China and Russia is one of the most important features of the evolution of international relations in the early 21st century. At the same time, the changing international order has also created new areas for Sino-Russian cooperation. Today, politicians and scholars from the PRC habitually refer to the changes in the modern international order as "a big change not seen in a century"

Diplomacy and politics

Faced with a changing world, the PRC leadership believes that the key directions for the future development of Chinese diplomacy are the following:

First, relations between the great powers. These connections directly affect the stability of the world order, and are also the most important area of Beijing’s diplomacy. At present, China is most concerned about the stabilisation of Sino-US relations. The United States sees China as its only long-term systemic competitor. In turn, Beijing is taking increasingly harsher measures in response to Washington’s strategic competition. Indeed, China’s political elite still hopes to stabilise bilateral relations as much as possible in order to create a favourable environment for the future development of their country. At the same time, China considers its partnership with Russia to be a model of great power relations and stands for the further deepening and development of strategic cooperation between our two countries. It is especially worth noting that for Beijing, the strategic cooperation with Moscow plays a decisive role in the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative.

Second, relations with surrounding countries. Compared to previous Chinese leaders, Xi Jinping is most focused on China’s peripheral diplomacy. Beijing considers building a good neighbourhood a top priority for Chinese diplomacy. In the region, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is the most important potential risk. Beijing hopes for maximum stability in relations between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington, since this directly affects the security of China’s northeast region. At the same time, the Chinese leadership advocates the development of stable and predictable bilateral relations with large neighbouring countries such as Japan and India in order to minimise the negative impact of the US Indo-Pacific strategy on China’s peripheral security.

Third, the concept of a “community with a common destiny for mankind” is Xi Jinping’s most important vision of the future world order. Beijing openly advocates replacing the “universal values” of the West with the common values of development and security for all mankind. The PRC also supports the further promotion of economic globalisation and economic diversification. At the same time, Xi Jinping pays more attention to green and low-carbon development. In the report of the 20th CPC Congress, the leader repeatedly emphasised environmental issues as a key priority.

In the field of security, China advocates the creation of a transparent and sustainable architecture, especially in East Asia, and also advocates against the concept of a zero-sum game. The main goal is undoubtedly to reduce the influence of the US-led alliance system.

Sino-Russian Cooperation in an Era of Change

The Ukrainian crisis is a symbol of the further acceleration of changes in international relations. During this difficult period, the stability of China’s domestic policy, which was strengthened by the 20th CPC Congress, opened up new opportunities for the future development of Sino-Russian relations. At the same time, the convergence of views between Beijing and Moscow on a number of international issues also ensures the strengthening of relations between our two countries. It should be noted that cooperation in the following areas is especially important for Sino-Russian cooperation in an era of change:

First, promoting the construction of a multipolar world is an important area where China and Russia can carry out foreign policy interaction. The Biden administration’s National Security Strategy identified Russia and China as the top threats to American hegemony. The United States is also positioning the next decade as critical for great power rivalry. Therefore, building a multipolar world together and preventing further US pressure on the strategically important areas around China and Russia through the “NATO-isation” of the Indo-Pacific will be an important area of future cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

Second, Beijing and Moscow are the most important forces in maintaining stability in Eurasia. With the rise of populism and hegemonism, strategic stability in the region is facing serious challenges. The two countries can jointly maintain regional stability within the framework of the SCO, as well as using the potential of the BRICS. At the same time, strong trilateral relations between China, Russia and India are of positive importance for the entire Eurasian region. Russia has maintained good bilateral relations with India since the Cold War. Despite territorial disputes between India and China, both sides consider domestic development a priority. The effective expansion of trilateral cooperation will bring great geopolitical and geo-economic benefits to the Eurasian region.

Third, cooperation in new areas. Beijing and Moscow believe that climate change will have an important impact on the future of international politics. In this process, cooperation in the traditional energy sector should be continued, while the expansion of joint research and development, including the use of non-traditional and renewable energy sources, should be accelerated. In addition, on October 2019, the Russian government adopted a state strategy for the development of artificial intelligence until 2030; China is also undertaking a new round of industrial upgrading. Thus, in the face of pressure from the United States, it is in the interests of China and Russia to deepen cooperation in the field of high technologies to improve their own security.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.