An Extraordinary White Paper from China Calls for “A Global Community of Shared Future”

Proclaiming that “the new era calls for new ideas,” the State Council Information Office of China issued a 40-page White Paper on Sept. 26 under the headline: A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions. It is a major policy document geared to address the unprecedented crisis facing mankind with a proposal for an entirely new set of international relations based on fundamental philosophical principles and a universal concept of man.

It will likely be at the center of deliberations of the upcoming October Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing later this month. The document notes:

“By July 2023, more than three-quarters of countries in the world and over 30 international organizations had signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China… The BRI originated in China, but the opportunities and achievements it creates belong to the whole world.”

The document repeatedly stresses the universality of Mankind, as opposed to the Hobbesian war of each against all, as the key to solving the grave crises in today’s world, where the threat of nuclear war remains the Sword of Damocles hanging over humanity. Rejecting the widely-accepted notion that the strongest country will necessarily seek hegemony, that “might makes right”, the document proposes a very different approach, grounded in universal history. We quote:

“Standing at a crossroads, humanity is faced with two opposing options. One is to revert to the Cold War mentality that deepens division and antagonism and stokes confrontation between blocs. The other is to act for the common wellbeing of humanity, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, advocate openness and win-win results, and promote equality and respect. The tug of war between these two options will shape the future of humanity and our planet in a profound way….”

The document notes that “harmony is the core concept of Chinese culture”, which has historically sought to incorporate the “outstanding achievements of other civilizations”. The concept of “a global community of shared future” has manifestations in all civilizations, it points out.

“Ancient Greek philosophers conducted primary research on this concept based on city-states, believing that humanity as one community should act in concert to pursue common interests and thus must live in harmony. Ancient Indian literature records the motto of ‘Under Heaven-one family.’ The African philosophy of Ubuntu holds that ‘I am because we are,’ emphasizing interdependence of humanity. The concept of a global community of shared future reflects the common interests of all civilizations — peace, development, unity, coexistence, and win-win cooperation.” Many other examples are given in the document, from Russia and Germany to Mexico and in the Arab world.

“From the principle of equity and sovereignty established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, to international humanitarianism established by the Geneva Conventions in 1864, then to the four purposes and seven principles established by the Charter of the United Nations in 1945, and later to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence proposed at the Bandung Conference in 1955, these norms of international relations have evolved into widely recognized principles and become the essential foundations of a global community of shared future….”

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