Saturday, December 31, 2016

Beijing Not Ready to Fill Vacuum Left by Washington
By Wang Yiwei
Global Times
2016/12/29 18:23:39

Discussions are heating up on global governance recently. Some believe that China, as a rising power, may replace the US to lead the world especially after US President-elect Donald Trump promised to quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership and withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement. It has a good ground, but it may take a long time to be realized.

With the slogan of "America First," the US is unwilling to offer public goods or bear more responsibilities for its allies.

Even if Trump, known for his isolationist tendency, was not elected, US cutback in its global strategy is unavoidable.

American citizens are increasingly disappointed by and suspicious of their government's capability, and want domestic problems to be prioritized over foreign issues.

In the meantime, US allies are not as satisfied with its leadership as before.

Many countries are pinning their hopes on China as they respond actively to the China-proposed One Belt and One Road initiative. They are eager to hitch a ride on China's rise, and expect Beijing to take on more international responsibilities.

China playing a more important role in the international arena is an irrefutable fact, but it is unlikely for China to replace the US as a global leader now.

To begin with, it is impossible for the US to reverse to the isolationist road. While Trump always attributes problems that his country is facing to globalization, the US is one of the largest beneficiaries of global activities.

Trump's isolationist tendency is, in nature, withdrawing the country from whatever is to the US' disadvantage. Washington will definitely not pull out of blocs or deals favorable to itself.

In addition, in comparison to Washington, which consolidated its status as the world leader since WWII, Beijing has not truly led the world in the industrialized era and has no capability to dominate the world in an overall sense at the current stage.

It takes time for China to learn and play a dominant role in the international arena.

Beijing is now taking on more responsibilities and has made tremendous contributions to the global community.

For instance, the One Belt and One Road initiative will aid connectivity, enhance infrastructure and improve people-to-people exchanges among countries located along the route, and thus, it has been warmly welcomed.

A number of cooperative mechanisms have been proposed by China for mutually beneficial results.

China's cultural and conceptual contributions to global governance are prominent as well, for example, the concept of the community with a common destiny.

China is increasingly valued in areas such as economy, politics and culture, but it's unrealistic for China to replace the US to lead the world. For instance, in terms of defense and security, China has no alliance system or military bases overseas, and thus, it is difficult for Beijing to provide efficient security support for its partners.

There are different voices in China arguing that Beijing should focus more on domestic affairs than getting involved in international affairs. However, globalization is an irreversible trend.

The earlier China goes global, the lower the risks China will face in the long term. Going global will give China more opportunities for development.

It has to be admitted that China has to overcome a number of difficulties to go global. First and foremost, sound domestic development is prerequisite for Beijing to enhance its global leadership.

China should put more efforts toward improving domestic economy, politics and culture. Innovation is of vital importance for China's core competitiveness, and technological breakthroughs are the basis for a country's hard power. Initiatives and ideas for inclusive development that can reflect universal human values are also essential.

There is still a long way for China to go.

The author is director of the Center for International Studies at Renmin University of China.

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