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China as a model for path to modernisation

Qin Gang called Chinese-style modernisation a major long-term achievement of the party and the people.

China as a model for path to modernisation

GLOBAL INITIATIVES: Xi Jinping’s protégé Qin Gang has outlined China’s foreign policy agenda. Reuters

Jayadeva Ranade

President, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy

IN a recent article, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang has quite explicitly criticised the US and the West, but without naming them, and outlined China’s global foreign policy agenda. Its main theme was reiterated by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the second Eurasian Economic Forum of the Eurasian Economic Union on May 24. He told the gathering that he had “put forward the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilisation Initiative, calling on all countries to work together to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity and to build a community with a shared future.”

Qin Gang (57) is a close associate and protégé of Xi Jinping; for years, he has been in charge of managing Xi’s foreign policy schedule. His rise has been rapid and he is well positioned to make it to the Politburo at the next Party Congress in 2027.

In his article titled ‘Provide new opportunities for the world with Chinese-style modernisation’, which contained at least five mentions of Xi, Qin attempted to portray China as a benign economic power that has made major contributions to global progress. The article touched upon topics of current interest and folded them within the policy initiatives associated with Xi.

Qin elaborated on Xi’s initiatives, namely Chinese-style modernisation, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilisation Initiative. China’s official media propagates these global initiatives almost daily, with articles by Chinese researchers exploring and explaining different aspects of a specific initiative.

Qin placed ‘common prosperity’ and the Belt and Road Initiative, both also closely associated with Xi, within the Chinese-style modernisation. Common prosperity, especially, has generated apprehension among Chinese businessmen and entrepreneurs and has received reduced mention in the official media over the past year. Crediting Xi for all these initiatives, he suggested they would be important items in China’s foreign policy agenda during Xi’s third term by asserting that “Xi Jinping is the core of the Party Central Committee and the core of the whole party is at the helm to guide the navigation.”

Qin called Chinese-style modernisation as China’s most recent and prominent initiative, a major long-term achievement of the party and people. References to it by Chinese leaders and in the official media have noticeably increased over the past year. He described Xi as “the chief architect and leader of Chinese-style modernisation.” Qin emphasised that Chinese-style modernisation is essential for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He attributed China’s growth from a poor country to the world’s second largest economy, largest trader in goods and global manufacturer to this.

Offering China as a model for other countries, he emphasised that the Chinese-style modernisation path is “showing a new picture different from the Western modernisation model and creating a new form of human civilisation.” Stressing at the same time that it was not a case of imposing another model of development, he cautioned that “blindly copying foreign models will not only lead to the opposite direction but may even lead to disastrous consequences.” He sought to reinforce this by recalling that China had “always envisioned a world of great harmony.”

Asserting that food and clothing alone are not adequate, Qin emphasised that in proposing the Global Civilisation Initiative, Xi had advocated the importance of ‘civilisation inheritance’ and respect for the diversity of world civilisations. Modernisation, he pointed out, does not mean the decline of civilisations, but, in fact, the rebirth of traditional culture.

Presenting the Global Development Initiative, the Foreign Minister said the initiative is a people-centred philosophy that had lifted more than 400 million people into the middle-income group. He claimed that “in the past 10 years, China’s contribution to global growth exceeded the sum of the contributions of the G7 countries” and this initiative had been widely welcomed across the world. He wrapped ‘common prosperity’ and the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ within the Global Development Initiative, describing them as “public goods provided by China to the international community.”

He dismissed efforts by the US and the West to build ‘trusted’ global supply chains and said that most people opposed ‘decoupling’ with China. Qin asserted that “modernisation is the inalienable right of every country” and countries should not set up roadblocks and obstruct others from modernising. He announced that “China does not engage in competition between major powers” and opposes creating ideological confrontation, engaging in a “new cold war” and interfering in other countries' internal affairs.

Discussing the Global Security Initiative, Qin said Xi stood for common security and universal security and cited as an example China’s intervention that prompted Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations. He also referred to China’s efforts to cool down the crisis in Ukraine and Russia.

Reflecting on Taiwan’s importance to the CCP leadership, Qin dealt with it in a separate sub-section and declared that “Taiwan’s return to China was an integral part of the post-World War II international order.” He accused ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and a small number of countries of attempting to use ‘Taiwan independence’ to undermine international rules and the stability of the Taiwan Strait and “trying to set aside the one-China principle, subvert the post-war order, and trample on China’s sovereignty.”

The article reasserts China's global ambitions while seeking to portray itself as a benign power. These initiatives attempt to present China as an alternative to Western norms, culture and principles. With Chinese diplomats and institutions pushing this agenda during Xi’s third term at the helm, it is clear that Xi will not resile from his present position and competition between the US and China will probably intensify.

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