China puts world ahead amid America First

By Zhang Zhixin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/25 21:03:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

A year ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos and at the UN Office at Geneva, bringing up the idea of building a community with shared future for mankind. Since then, the idea has gained international attention for offering China's solutions to global challenges. Last year, China and the US, which is led by President Donald Trump who advocates "America First" doctrine, have both participated in global affairs, but their contributions differ.

America First was not only the ideology promoted during Trump's presidential campaign, but also forms the core of his domestic and foreign policies after he took office.

In the field of economy, Trump has made employment and growth the priority of his policy. He has used means like tax policy to keep job opportunities on the US mainland and reduced governmental intervention to stimulate the market.

For instance, he abolished several policies of former president Barack Obama in fighting climate change, and loosened curbs on the conventional energy industry to make it an important creator of jobs.

In trade, Trump considered free trade agreements signed by former US administrations not to be in America's economic interests. Guided by "America First" doctrine, he has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and threatened to abolish US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. What's more, the Trump administration never concealed its dislike for multilateral trade mechanisms.

In diplomacy, the Trump administration has shunned the responsibility of global affairs shouldered by previous US governments. As shown in his attitude toward US allies, Trump once said NATO was obsolete and requested Japan and South Korea to pay the price for their own security, revealing the mind-set of a businessman. Just like he said in the UN General Assembly last year, "We can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the US gets nothing in return."

Trump's pragmatism on multilateral international mechanisms is also part of his "America First" principle. What benefits the US should be used as much as possible, as Washington has taken advantage of the UN resolutions to sanction North Korea several times. And if something is not good for the US, Trump jettisons it, as his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change shows.

The concept of "a community with shared future for mankind" proposed by China is a stark contrast with the "America First" policy. China not only aims to create favorable conditions for its people's livelihoods, but also make more contributions to all of humanity.

China aims to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. Bearing this in mind, the Chinese government is shouldering more responsibilities for world peace and development.

Politically, China stays away from the Cold-War mentality and power politics while sticking to a new type of inter-state relations featuring dialogue and partnership. In the field of security, China promotes a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable concept. It insists on dialogue and negotiations to solve disputes and discrepancies, and opposes all forms of terrorism.

China is also promoting a more convenient and free environment for trade and investment so as to push globalization for achieving a more open, inclusive, mutually beneficial, balanced and win-win result.

At the same time, China advances the diversity of world civilization and calls for civilized communication and the co-existence of different civilizations to repudiate civil conflict and superiority.

In the past year, the US has gradually pulled itself out of international affairs, while China is taking on more responsibility. China's economic growth contributed more than 30 percent to the world economy and its efforts in poverty alleviation have achieved prominent results. The Belt and Road initiative emboldens the open and inclusive notion of wide consultation, joint construction and shared benefits. During times when protectionism and unilateralism are surging, this initiative will give a boost to globalization and serve as a stepping stone for realizing the community with shared future for mankind.

China has also contributed enormously in international anti-terrorism campaign, nuclear non-proliferation, prevention of the spread of epidemics, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy. It supported the signing of an Iranian nuclear deal between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, and has been striving to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

China and the US used to play the leading role in tackling climate change and prompted the signing of the Paris climate pact.

In a nutshell, the doctrine of "America First" reflects the inward-looking and conservative policies adopted by the Trump administration against the backdrop of declining US hegemony. By contrast, the concept of "a community with shared future for mankind" shows a rising China which is more confident in world affairs and embraces the globe with an open and inclusive mind.     

The author is a vice research fellow with the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. 

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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