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For a Beijing-led World Order, China's Xi is Ramping up Multinational 'Party-to-Party' Relations

By Balasubramanian C.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

Article Courtesy: WION

Article 07/2023

Chinese leader Xi Jinping proposed the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) at the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting on March 15, 2023. The event, with the theme 'Path towards Modernization: The Responsibility of Political Parties,' was aimed at bringing together more than 500 leaders of political parties and political organisations from over 150 countries.

Delivering the keynote address, Xi proposed the GCI under which he called for respect for diversity of civilisations. "Countries need to uphold the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue, and inclusiveness among civilisations, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend feelings of superiority," said Xi.

He said the current challenges and crises are "intertwined."

"The global economic recovery remains sluggish, the development gap is widening, (the) ecological environment is deteriorating, and the Cold War mentality is lingering," he said, adding that the modernization process "has once again reached a crossroads of history."

GCI China's third global initiative

The Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) marks China's third global initiative, following the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) apart from the mammoth One Belt and One Road (OBOR) Initiative. It immediately succeeds Beijing’s efforts that clinched a peace deal between arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia on March 10 2023.

It is worth mentioning two developments:

(1) The political parties' conference was held by the CPC ahead of US President Joe Biden's Second Summit for Democracy, which was co-hosted with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia between March 29-30, 2023; and

(2) It preceded the proposed visit of Xi Jinping to Moscow for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, on March 20, 2023. China, which was not invited to the US-led first summit of democracy in 2021, accused Washington, of using democracy as a 'weapon of mass destruction' to 'stoke divisions and confrontation'.

Despite China's skill in mediation and Xi's visit to Moscow to cement a 'no limits partnership,' the 12-point peace proposal in the Russia-Ukraine conflict exposed China's limitations.

In countering this, President Xi, in his keynote address, called for leveraging the strength of a new type of party-to-party relations to build a new type of international relations and expand global partnerships by fostering stronger ties with political parties around the world. Xi also stated that the CPC is committed to strengthening exchanges and cooperation with other political parties to pursue just causes together. It is worth noting that the CPC maintains fraternal ties with political parties all over the world, including those in India.

As a precursor to evolving this civilizational link architecture, China and Iran signed a statement in May 2021 to jointly carry out the conservation of cultural heritage. This cultural agreement was seen as part of promoting the OBOR. Subsequently, in February 2023, Beijing and Tehran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote exchanges and cooperation in the field of cultural heritage, which was seen as one of the important achievements of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to China. Both China and Iran are civilisational states.

For President Xi, his trip to Russia was a show of defiance. His success in brokering a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran aimed to demonstrate an alternate model of governance architecture that is independent of the US. With the recent proposal of the GCI, Xi projects China's confidence in leading global affairs through the tercet of GDI, GSI, and GCI.

It is evident that Xi Jinping aims to position himself stronger to pursue his goal of creating an international order that is more friendly to China.

Despite China's skill in mediation and Xi's visit to Moscow to cement a 'no limits partnership,' the 12-point peace proposal in the Russia-Ukraine conflict exposed China's limitations.

Nonetheless, the global headlines that portrayed China as the 'peace maker' sent jitters to the US and the US-dominated international system. While the GDI speaks of the concept of 'indivisible security,' and the GSI envisions 'advancing global human goods,' it remains to be seen how prudent the GCI will be. However, with limited details available about the GCI, it can be viewed as being 'less about results' and more about shoring up support for a China-led global order that is independent of the US and Western influence.

(Mr. Balasubramanian C is a Senior Research Officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.)

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