China’s efforts to secure a larger role for itself in multiple international institutions have generated questions about the scale of its ambitions and the tools it will use to advance them.
The fears that China is changing the United Nations from within seem if not overblown, at least premature. The U.N. can still be a force multiplier for the values and interests of the United States, but only if Washington now competes for influence rather than assume automatic U.N. deference.
China’s involvement in United Nations peacekeeping is one of its better-known investments in the multilateral system. But its contributions to blue helmet missions remain limited, and Beijing has taken a cautious approach to expanding its commitments.
Is the Chinese government’s greater engagement with international institutions a gain for the global human rights system? A close examination suggests not.
Chinese Communist Party policies towards Xinjiang have increased colonial development, further eroded Uyghur autonomy through force and ethnic assimilationism, and co-opted the “Global War on Terror” framing to portray all Uyghur resistance as “terrorism.”
Despite its rhetoric, Beijing has worked at the U.N. to marginalize women’s rights defenders — critical actors for promoting gender equality — and has consistently voted against measures to strengthen visibility and protection of LGBT people’s human rights.
A 2014 speech by Xi Jinping was the first signal of Beijing’s more focused effort to alter the security architecture supporting the Asia-Pacific regional order. To achieve this goal, China is seeking to contest the “network power” that has enabled American leadership in the Asia-Pacific.
If Washington’s China strategy is to effect its desired change — a world where America is secure and remains the preeminent power — it must include investments focused on winning the competition of political systems.
Much of the American concern with China’s role in the global economy is related to the partial integration of the country into the global economic institutions.
It is likely that the renminbi will gradually become a more significant player in international financial markets, yet its full potential will remain unrealized unless the Chinese government undertakes a broad range of economic and financial system reforms.
China is the world’s second-largest digital economy, second only to the United States, and leads the world in the value of many digital applications, including e-commerce and mobile payments. Yet, China remains largely closed to foreign competition.
How will a growing Chinese middle class impact global politics, when democracy is no longer the only way to achieve a stable middle-class lifestyle?
Multilateral organizations also see both challenges and opportunities around China’s Belt and Road Initiative as it relates to their investments in global governance. They are weighing the potential for shared resources against the rule-bending ambitions of China’s approach.
As the geographic scope of China’s Belt and Road Initiative continues to grow, countries must decide whether to join — and to what extent they should participate.
Like other powerful nations, China may refuse to comply with international law when doing so suits its perceived interests. Nonetheless, international law matters to China.
To understand how China fits into energy markets and how energy shapes its policy, examining the electricity and oil and gas industries separately is illustrative.
President Donald Trump pulled the plug on U.S.-China climate engagement. If former Vice President Joe Biden wins the election in November, it will be vital to again work effectively with China on climate change.