China and geopolitics . . .
The PRC appears to be done with “hiding its strength and biding its time” in geopolitics and global governance, as famously counselled by former leader Deng Xiaoping. In recent years the PRC has pursued a more assertive foreign policy, which has shaken the pillars of the postwar rules-based order from which Canada has benefited. Meanwhile, the U.S. is retreating from its postwar global leadership role, accelerating the power shift from the U.S. and the “West” to China and Asia. China has continued to modernize its military and expand its presence around the world. In response, the U.S. and other regional powers have begun to co-ordinate and promote a new alternative vision to stabilize the region – a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, a ‘containment’ vision currently exclusive of diversity and inclusiveness.
China and multilateral organizations . . .
China has re-emerged as a significant global player, impacting every corner of the globe, influencing major issues, and gaining an unprecedented voice in multilateral organizations. At the U.N., for example, China was re-elected yesterday to the United Nations Human Rights Council, but with 41 fewer votes than in 2016, highlighting a growing opposition to its dismal human rights record. While China maintains that its goals in the U.N. are altruistic, its efforts to play a larger role in some international organizations have generated questions about its ambitions and reach within the U.N. While China's position and influence in the U.N. remain, for now, second to the U.S., China will keep assuming a larger role within this central organization, a reality for which Canadians need to prepare.
China and global governance . . .
China has adopted a multifaceted global governance strategy. It supports international institutions aligned with its goals while creating new ones or working with other "like-minded" partners to develop new standards closer to its interests. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, a U.S. think-tank focusing on foreign policy and international affairs, China's global governance strategy has four distinct focus areas: global health, internet governance, climate change, and development finance. In global health, for example, Beijing recently announced that it was joining the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX). The COVAX is an international effort of 150 countries aiming to develop and distribute two billion doses of vaccine by the end of next year, a partnership the U.S. has refused to join. These four focus areas are also of significant interest to Canada, and China's role here highlights the need to engage Beijing on these issues, despite questionable behaviour in other areas.