The month of February 2023 might in future get a special chapter in the history of China and global politics. The Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China presented a number of official texts and declarations. They seem to follow a planned schedule.
When considered together, these texts, accompanied by diplomatic action, present China’s advancing challenge of US hegemony – and claim for global leadership.
The Foreign Ministry began the month of February with statements regarding domestic US policy. Then followed critiques of international US legal action and general foreign policy. In the next step, China presented its own proposal for a “Global Security Initiative”. And finally, Beijing concretized its claim with a proposal on how to settle the Ukraine conflict.
U.S. practice of international application of domestic law
The first statement, titled “The U.S. Willful Practice of Long-arm Jurisdiction and its Perils” came on February 3rd. The Foreign Ministry criticized how the U.S. extends domestic legislation and persecution exterritorialy and on third parties. Sanctions policy – “The U.S. is the only sanctions superpower” – was of course at the focus. China called Washington to renounce the policy and act according to its “responsibilities as a member of the UNSC”. A fine message to the country that once initiated founding the United Nations.
Drug abuse in the U.S.
On February 9, a statement on “Drug Abuse in the United States” followed. The Chinese Foreign Ministry dealt – in detail – with the issues of drug abuse: a social malaise in the United States; the enormous social cost of drug abuse in the United States and multiple causes of drug abuse in the United States. The Ministry – the Chinese one – quoted data from the U.S. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, discussed legalization of cannabis, domestic U.S. legislation and the role of interest groups and concluded: “The U.S. government has not done enough to raise public awareness of the harm of narcotic drugs; the measures it took to reduce drug demand are ineffective; and its drug control actions produce poor results.”
The statement comes also in the context of widespread accusations in the U.S. that blame China for drug abuse.
Gun Violence in the United States
Then follows, on February 16, a statement on “Gun Violence in the United States: Truth and Facts”. Filled with data on the matter, including the number of guns and victims and remarks on U.S. domestic political polarization on the issue, the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China concludes – and demands: “The right to life is the biggest human right. The Declaration of Independence begins with the statement that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights. One gunshot after another have shattered the American Dream that all men are endowed with the unalienable rights to life and liberty, and lead people to reflect deeply on where the American-style human rights really are.”
It is truly remarkable that the Chinese Ministry reminds the U.S. authorities of the “Declaration of Independence”, one of the most sacred texts in American politics.
Challenging the U.S. hegemony outright – and speaking for the world vis a vis Washington
Four days later, on February 20, the Foreign Ministry publishes the next statement. This one is called “US Hegemony and Its Perils”. This statement, or “report” as the Ministry calls the text, is an outright reckoning of U.S. hegemony. It “seeks to expose the U.S. abuse of hegemony in the political, military, economic, financial, technological and cultural fields, and to draw greater international attention to the perils of the U.S. practices to world peace and stability and the well-being of all peoples”, states the Foreign Ministry.
Though the statement ends with the call that the U.S. “must conduct serious soul-searching”, it is of course more directed to the rest of the world to distance itself from Washington. Accordingly, the statement exceeds far beyond US-China relations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry speaks:
– in the name of Latin America when rejecting the “Neo-Monroeism”;
– in the name of the Arab world when stating the U.S. had “orchestrated the Arab Spring”;
– in the name of Eurasia when rejecting “color revolutions”;
– in the name of all countries affected by U.S. military interventions by rejecting these;
– in the name of Türkiye, citing Turkish Minister of Interior with the words the U.S. had “waged a proxy war in Syria”;
– in the name of Japan when reminding how the U.S. “leveraged its hegemonic financial power against” it;
– in the name of Germany and France, by reminding that their leaders were targeted by U.S. surveillance.
“The historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are unstoppable”, sounds the warning from Beijing to Washington.
The Global Security Initiative
This claim to represent the world versus the United States is turned into a positive, constructive step with the next statement, “The Global Security Initiative Concept Paper”.
This is published just a day later, on February 21. This statement of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) calls all countries to “adapt to the profoundly changing international landscape “.
The statement formulates leadership: “In 2014, President Xi Jinping initiated a new vision for common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, which has been widely recognized and supported by the international community.”
The statement is an invitation: “The GSI, following the principle of openness and inclusiveness, welcomes and looks forward to the participation of all parties to jointly enrich its substance and actively explore new forms and areas of cooperation. China stands ready to work with all countries and peoples”.
And it is overcoming: In this statement, the United States is not even mentioned once! Instead, the United Nations, BRICS, the African Union, the Middle East Security Forum, the SCO and other regional actors are highlighted.
Wang Yi in the Transatlantic lion’s cave
But before that, an important visit occurs. Wang Yi, the Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China and his country’s former Foreign Minister, takes part in the Munich Security Conference, the transatlantic lion’s cave.
In his keynote speech on February 19, Wang not only announces the publication of the GSI. He also reaches out to the Europeans to find a common solution to the Ukraine crisis. Warning that “some forces” do not want the Ukraine-Russia peace tasks to proceed, Wang added that China hopes that its European friends think calmly on the following questions: What efforts are required to stop the flames of war, what structures are required for the long-term peace and stability of Europe, and what type of roles Europe need to take to realize strategic freedom.
China’s “top diplomat” according to the Chinese press, then travelled to Moscow, while Beijing advanced its initiative further. On February 24, the anniversary of the start of Russia’s “Special Military Operation”, the Foreign Ministry presented “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis”.
Proposal to solve Ukraine crisis and creating European Security Architecture
This was of course not a “position” but a proposal to solution. In 12 points, the Chinese diplomacy presented a number of positions and calls. Politically, China underlined its “respect for the sovereignty of all countries”, while also emphasizing that “legitimate security interests of all countries must be taken into account properly”. By stating that security cannot be achieved by expanding military blocks”, the Foreign Ministry rejected NATO expansion, the same way it did with sanctions and also nuclear threats.
“Ceasing hostilities” and “resuming peace talks” are the main demands in the paper, to which China pledges to “continue its constructive role”.
But the paper goes beyond the Ukraine crisis and calls for the establishment of a “balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture” and to work for peace and stability on the “Eurasian continent”.
The Chinese proposal for the solution of the Ukraine crisis will be discussed globally and also on our website.
But taking all the Chinese Foreign Ministry statements together, it seems that Ukraine has now truly turned into the theater for a conflict over a multipolar world – with China claiming a growing weight in it.