'A shared future' offers alternative to unsustainable US dominance: former Slovenian president
Published: Mar 26, 2023 06:13 PM
Boao Forum for Asia. Photo: VCG

Boao Forum for Asia. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

This March marks the 10th anniversary of the concept of "a community with a shared future for mankind," which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Over the years, the concept has evolved into a vision with global significance and has been recognized by an increasing number of countries and international organizations. What is the significance of the concept in improving the global governance system? Why have China's initiatives been widely welcomed and responded to by the international community?

In an interview, Danilo Türk (Türk), former president of Slovenia, told Global Times (GT) reporter Lu Yuanzhi that "a global community with a shared future for mankind is a very good aspiration" and "we all understand that the world is interdependent at levels we have never experienced before, and our future has to be developed together." 

GT: From "a community with a shared future for mankind" to the Belt and Road Initiative, in your opinion, what do these initiatives reflect China's diplomatic philosophy? Why have these initiatives been widely welcomed and responded to by the international community?

Türk: "A community with a shared future for mankind" is a very good aspiration. It's a very good idea. It's very difficult to oppose it. Now, we all understand that the world is interdependent at levels we have never experienced before, and our future has to be developed together. 

We have followed the discussions in China. The debate started with the idea of shared destiny, but then "destiny" was replaced by "future," because destiny is something you cannot influence. But a shared future is something that we build together. I think that a slight terminological change was actually very important, because it showed the openness and readiness of China to work with others. And that, I think, is an important message. China cannot create a common future for the world alone, and it needs partners. 

Obviously, the questions of how that will be done and how that will dispel the doubts that exist or a lack of trust that is so prevalent nowadays are huge challenges. But I believe that the direction is correct. And we have to be capable with patience and wisdom to build projects that actually give full practical meaning to the idea of "a community with a shared future for mankind." 

GT: How do you understand the concept of "a community with a shared future for mankind?" 

Türk: I think that the future can be shared in different ways. Reform of the global financial architecture should be an important part of that shared future. We have inherited the global financial architecture, which is not equal or equitable. It's probably not sustainable. As a result, big changes are needed. The World Bank, the IMF and various regional development banks all have to change. And a shared future should require serious reforms in the financial sector.

The other important area is global climate governance. We now have COP conferences every year, but we see that they are not producing results. There are agreements on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we still witness the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. The conferences agree on serious financing of transformation in the developing world, but the money is not coming. So we have a serious problem with global climate governance. "A community with a shared future for mankind" has to include a different type of climate governance for the future.

It would be interesting to see what kind of specific initiatives China will develop in the coming years. I would hope that in addition to the philosophy of this idea and the security aspect of this idea, something else, especially in the area of climate governance and financial governance, will be proposed to give full meaning to the idea of "a shared future." 

GT: Over the past decade, the international situation has been undergoing profound and complex changes, and instability and uncertainty have increased significantly. What is the significance of "a community with a shared future for mankind" in improving the global governance system?

Türk: That would require a number of changes. And the question is how to set priorities. There are different problems here - some of them are urgent, and some of them are important, but they are not necessarily the same thing. Sometimes urgent problems are not the most important problems. Sometimes the most important problems do not seem to be sufficiently urgent. This is why the future is so uncertain. How does one develop a proper definition of priorities for policymaking?

I would hope, but I'm not sure whether that is possible that groups like G20 will be able to articulate priorities. G20 started as a meeting of finance, dealing with the financial crisis of 2008-09. And then, it was developed to new levels, heads of state and governments, and so forth. Now, G20 could be expected to articulate priorities well, and then one would need to see how this articulation of priorities works with the UN system, with the Economic and Social Council, with the Security Council and so forth. 

Maybe one should expedite changes in the financial architecture in order to enable proper financing of development and transformation needed for climate governance, because climate governance is not going to happen as a result of nice declarations and political statements; it will happen if there is a sufficient and globally coordinated investment. 

So I think the world should be focusing much more on the issues of development and financial conditions to allow development for those who are seriously constrained nowadays. We hope that in the long run, the world will be a better place, but right now, we don't have that as yet, and much work is needed. 

GT: You also mentioned that China's idea of "a community with a shared future for mankind" has been misinterpreted by some Western countries. Under what circumstances do you think the US and other Western countries will have to accept this concept?

Türk: One has to understand that there are different cultures across the world, and those cultures have an impact on policy. I tried to understand the way the Chinese cultural tradition helps articulate political visions. China likes to frame big ideas in the context of a philosophical vision. And this comes all the way from Confucius, and one has to appreciate that. 

In the West, this sort of approach is not endemic. It's not our approach. And the Western approach is much more based on pragmatism, national interest, power, profit and all other concepts, which bring a different sort of policy, priorities and vision for the world.

Even at the level of the cultural framework of discussions, we have a difference. But nobody will be really, conceptually or fundamentally, against the idea of "a shared future." We are all sufficiently realistic to know the world is now connected, and we have to figure out how to make it a better place. But the way to do it, there are very serious differences on that.

Obviously, right now, we still are in a process where a dominant role of the US is the reality, but that's not sustainable. And we could start with the Chinese idea of "a shared future." But we have to think of what kind of changes are necessary to make that shared future a better future, dramatically sustainable in environmental, security and financial terms.

We will have a complicated discussion, and I'm fully aware of that. But I would like to take the Chinese idea of the shared future as a point of departure. Then see what we must do, what we can do and how to define our priorities. These are big issues for global leaders, and I hope they will be able to find good ways to deal with them.