Going against Deng’s principle – "never claim leadership" . . .
China has gradually increased its role in global governance since 1971. It joined the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member, gained membership in Bretton Woods institutions (i.e. International Monetary Fund and World Bank), and has played an increasing role in other fora such as the G20. China has evolved from a participatory state on the global stage to a key player in reshaping the world order. This has been especially noticeable since Donald Trump became president in the U.S. in 2016 and the U.S. began retreating from multilateral and global governance issues such as nuclear proliferation, climate change, human rights protection, and UNESCO. The U.S.’s retreat has provided opportunities for China to fill the void, for example, to alter the UN human rights system by promoting its own vision of human rights and even organizing the South-South Human Rights Forum in 2017.
Taking lead in peacekeeping and peace-building . . .
China has also taken a more leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts. It became the second-largest funder to the UN peacekeeping budget and the 11th highest contributor with 2,521 personnel. In 2017, China registered the largest peacekeeping standby force – 8,000 troops along with a rapid response unit. China has also committed US$100 million to the development of the standby force for the African Union and set up a 10-year, China-UN Peace and Development Fund (US$1 billion) for peace-building missions. In addition, China’s navy deployed its vessels for the UN-mandated escort missions to the Gulf of Aden and it has increased both funds and military deployments for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) missions.
Selling a Sino-centric order . . .
China has also invested in the creation of international and regional organizations and financial institutions and has been negotiating an array of free trade agreements. Within the last several years, China has also driven the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and institutionalized the Belt and Road Initiative to advance its strategic and economic interests globally. Simultaneously, China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral financial institution, to attract international investments and partnerships to construct large-scale infrastructure projects. China’s approach to global governance and multilateral institutions is still in the making, but current actions are likely indicative of future behaviour.
- Xinhua: China and the world in the new era
- Centre for American Progress: Mapping China’s global governance ambitions
- Brookings Institution: China’s emerging institutional statecraft