While the US withdraws from multiple international agreements and organizations and appears to take fewer international responsibilities, there has been mounting concern about global governance and globalization. What needs to be done with global governance at a crossroads? With the US receding, can China replace it as a global leader? Global Times has collected the opinion of four experts who spoke at the Beijing Forum 2017, an international academic event that has been held annually since 2004, at Peking University in early November.
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Jia Qingguo, dean of School of International Studies at Peking University
A lot of things happened in the past few years. We saw Brexit, election of Donald Trump as US president, and rise of protectionism and anti-immigration sentiment around the world.
Now we have Trump, probably because the US failed to manage the globalization process which ended up with a lot of people in the US losing faith in the idea because they did not benefit from it. Trump came up with a policy different from that of his predecessors - "America First."
So we witnessed that the US refused to take international responsibility and declined to maintain globalization and world order. At the same time, China probably is not ready for taking up the US' place. A lot of people have said, why not China? China is not ready. Probably China is not willing. Its resources and experiences are limited.
Until recently, China has not played a very significant role in managing the world order. And it doesn't want to do the job due to a shortage of knowledge and skills. China's rise has been too fast. As a result, the Chinese lack understanding of the world. We need much more time to feel comfortable to do the job eagerly.
So the US is unwilling, China is not willing to take the lead, and globalization seems to have run out of leader. So this is the great challenge.
Whether we should have globalization is not a question, it is what kind of globalization we want to have. The current globalization is full of problems. Though it has a lot of virtues, addresses efficiencies and fairness, it doesn't pay much attention to the problem of equality. And that is behind lots of problems we are facing today. How do we deal with it? We should focus on the question of more attribution of benefits among other things.
Hao Yufan, dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Macao
At this stage, China shouldn't take the lead. China's grand strategy should focus more on serving its own interests instead of global ones.
In the last two decades, the rise of China has been a hot topic in international relations. Yet China's security environment is not improving. External pressure is rising.
China should have a grand strategy that should be Asia-oriented. Any strategic move at this stage to the center of global stage should be secondary.
China is seeking a peaceful, harmonious world, which may be wishful thinking for Western strategists, unless the whole world greets China's idea.
I really doubt China has any well-thought-out grand strategy. At this stage, Chinese foreign policy is indeed undergoing fundamental changes and this may alter the way China gradually plans its grand strategy in the real sense, which will be well understood by the West.
China faces a lot of security challenges. At this stage China's strategy should more or less focus on the surrounding security environment.
China is facing a more dangerous and more uncertain surrounding environment. Thus if we are thinking about a grand strategy, it would be better to move toward what might serve China's interest.
Zhao Suisheng, professor with Josef Korbel School of International Studies at University of Denver
Some people wonder whether Trump's "America First" policy has given China opportunity to challenge the US leadership and lead globalization and reshape global governance.
My argument here is China is not going to demand change in the global system itself or rules, but only the standard of arrangement of global governance.
In fact, it's not in China's interest to step in, or China is not ready to step in the US' shoes to play the role Washington used to play.
China became the biggest beneficiary of the current international economic order institutions. And also on politics, security, China struggled hard but eventually became a very important contributor. The current international system is not just and fair. They want to create a more just and reasonable international order. What does China mean by that? It implies the current system does not serve the interests of emerging economies.
Voices of developing countries and emerging economies are not heard. Developing countries, such as China, want to raise their voice.
China came up with the Belt and Road initiative. Although I don't know how successful it will be, it's a very good example of letting China's voice be heard and increase its role in global governance and global development.
Early this year, President Xi Jinping said that China should make the international order more reasonable and just. China only talked about participating but it now talks of guiding to take a leadership role.
Is China trying to become another US? I don't think so. China should not follow the US in doing what is wrong. China should be smarter and do something better. China is still rising and the process could be increasingly difficult. To be a global leader requires a lot of resources and the ability to provide global goods. China is yet not in that position.
China does not have that soft power. China has benefited from and continues to be the beneficiary of the current international order under US leadership. It's in China's interest to work with the US to improve, to maintain this order, to resolve problems.
What China wants to change is not the order itself. China should have more voice in the system. I will argue that the US and China could work together. The US could give up some rights to encourage China to be a responsible leader. China's stepping up to responsibilities is in the interests of both the US and China. The two countries should negotiate, work together to reform the current international system and global governance.
Xiong Wei, professor at China Foreign Affairs University
When we talk about relations between major powers, we mean two triangle relationships - the ties between China, the US and Russia, and between China, the US and Europe. The former is a true triangle, with geopolitical significance, while the latter is not a traditional one since it's not exclusive.
China-Europe relations rely heavily on trade and handling them well may boost interactions among the three sides. Hence, developing robust China-Europe relations is important since it helps stabilize China's ties with the US.
Europe, which is undergoing a reform and transformation, has rising demand for China. In the meantime, Europe is crucial to China when it comes to protecting regional stability and world peace, dealing with global challenges, improving global governance system and advancing economic globalization and liberal, fair trade.
In terms of the Belt and Road initiative, China is willing to use it to align with Europe on strategy. And China wants to cooperate with Europe in the third market, since Western Europe is skeptical about implementation of the initiative in Eastern and Southern Europe.