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发布时间: 2018年06月13日 浏览次数: 编辑: 梁浩嘉


In 2016, there were dramatic changes in the global political and economic situation, and influenced by these changes, anxious and fearful emotions lingered in the international community. In terms of their range and intensity, the most prominent one was the anti-globalization trend. Stimulated by this, some Western countries chose to switch or even exit their engagement in international cooperation. Subsequently, topics that used to occupy the dominant place in global governance gradually lost deserved attention, and people inevitably began to worry that these would negatively hurt the already unstable international order and fragile international global governance.

In this context, as the world's second-largest economic entity, the Chinese government introduced the Belt and Road Initiative, which includes dozens of countries and also expresses the Chinese vision of a ‘community of human destiny’. Different from Western policy preference and practice, Chinese active engagement in global governance seems to be unusual, while it is also unavoidable to discuss whether China has already obtained the capability to challenge and rebuild the existing world order as a leading country. Influenced by standpoints and methods, different scholars hold different views concerning global governance and China’s participation.

In order to solve this question, this article will be divided into three parts. After discussing reasons for difficulties in global governance, it will analyze China’s participation in global governance, and the Belt and Road Initiative in particular, and finally will conclude that although the deglobalization move in Western countries imposes side effects on global governance and China’s participation, China could still undertake more international responsibilities and utilize the Belt and Road Initiative to stimulate common interests as well as its international status.

The difficulties and roots of global governance

It could be argued that the difficulties of global governance are derived from the international order after WWII, which means that during the post-war period, all countries and areas were intertwined into the power struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the unprecedented interconnections resulting from ideological struggle emerged in the area of global governance. Under this circumstance, global governance faced a dilemma resulting from these actors in international society. Essentially, since states consider national interest a priority, international organizations could not constrain their choices as there was a lack of absolute power beyond national sovereignty, which led to inevitable conflicts between international responsibility and national interests.

Specifically, if the common interest in the international arena accords with their national interest, great powers are willing to provide common products and solve international issues, otherwise these states would not only defend their national interest rather than international order, but also abandon their responsibility for supporting international order and affairs.

Meanwhile, small and weak countries have realized the importance of global governance and are willing to devote themselves to it, while their activities are constrained by the lack of chances and capability.

There is another drawback in international governance - the dilemma of institution - where international organizations and systems, United Nations in particular, made great efforts to regulate power struggle among states to avoid further conflicts such as world war.

Although the UN still has a significant influence on global governance practices, such as environment, climate changes and counter-terrorism, it still faces challenges. The first one is rooted in its mechanism. According to the UN Charter, all member states, regardless of their scale and territory, are equal and should not interfere in other’s internal affairs. But in terms of global governance, the United Nations is required to execute functions that go beyond a nation’s sovereignty and may interfere in its members’ domestic affairs, which contrasts with United Nations' basic principles. Therefore, some states may intervene in the UN’s actions to protect its national interest. To make things more complicated, states are not equal, and most developing and small countries are concerned that great powers will utilize international organizations to interfere in their own affairs, which could be an obstacle in reaching consensus.

Another challenge could be the UN’s competitors. Since the UN manages almost all aspects of global governance, to certain extent, this would lead to duplications and inefficient management. Compared to this, other international organizations have advantages, as they focus on regional or sub-regional issues. However, these organizations also have limitations, such as coordination and execution.

China’s participation in global governance

Barry Buzan, an international relations scholar, called the current progress of international politics ‘decentered globalism’, which means that the structure of globalization is limited to certain countries. In other words, the advantages of traditional ‘great powers’ are not obvious. Some burgeoning countries, such as China and India, will play a more important role in global governance. Other scholars reached consensus that developing countries’ engagement is essential to efficient global governance, as the sole participation of Western countries is no longer sustainable today. Therefore, the international society has attached increasing importance to China’s participation in global governance, as it will bring conceptual and institutional challenges to global governance. Advocated by China, the concept of a "community of common destiny" emphasizes harmonious interconnections. In such relations, mutual respect and benefit should be built, and any practices that may cause chaos or disorder should be suspended. Among all China’s practice, one of the most prominent is the the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative and global governance

As a cooperative proposal advocated by China, the Belt and Road Initiative is a major bedrock for China to stimulate global governance. The initiative not only reflects developing countries’ willingness to promote their international status, but also to defend their interests under dominance of developed countries. Currently, for some countries, infrastructure construction is their most urgent demand, while the lack of financial support sometimes hinders their progress. As the leading economic organizations in Asia, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank sometimes cannot provide timely financial support, and to a certain extent these institutions are monopolized by the United States and Japan. As a result, some developing countries cannot obtain reasonable support in a timely manner.

In this context, China is capable of and willing to provide financial and technical support for these countries. To overcome this drawback, Asian countries should build their own mechanism, and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could boost the regional infrastructure construction and effectively utilize the broader market. Besides infrastructure construction, the Belt and Road Initiative also reflects China’s willingness to promote global governance as well as to benefit developing countries. In this initiative, the idea of a community of common destiny is advocated in terms of interconnections that include Eurasia, Africa and maritime states.

To achieve multi-level and comprehensive interconnections, China not only focuses on infrastructure construction, but also attaches importance to regulations and personal exchanges. Not limited to this, the principle of inclusion is also stressed by the Chinese government. Concerning local systems, the initiative should be compatible with existing customs rather than starting all over again; in terms of other powers, such as Japan and the US, the Chinese government adopts a tolerant attitude instead of resistance.

Nevertheless, the Belt and Road Initiative is still in the initial stage and mainly focuses on the economic, financial and investment areas, and accompanied with a further boost to the initiative, international security, for instance, could be taken into consideration to enhance the regional development and global governance. Consequently, based upon the Belt and Road Initiative, China's status in international society will be enhanced, and as for the international system, the initiative will stimulate multilateralism as well as the effective reform of the global governance mechanism.


Although the Western idea of global governance is often criticized by the international community, we cannot deny that global governance will be trapped without Western participation. However, Brexit in Europe and the ‘America First’ proposed by Donald Trump impair the willingness and capability of Western participation.

Faced with these challenges, China has already become the most vigorous state in global governance and has begun to undertake more international responsibility. On the other hand, China is still a beginner in this area and should actively enhance its voice in global governance. The Belt and Road Initiative is a new governance mode that combines the Asian emphasis on harmonious relations and regulations raised by the West.

In other words, harmonious relations are beneficial for China to reach consensus with other countries and construct a community of common destiny, and the regulations emphasized by the West guarantee the conduct of related activities. Along with the Belt and Road Initiative, global governance and China’s international status would be promoted to a new phase.

Dai Changzheng is the dean of the School of International Relations at Univerisity of International Business and Economics. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

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