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China is a big country and
other countries are small countries, and
that's just a fact...

Yang Jiechi, China's Foreign Minister, July 2010

Community of Common Destiny

The Chinese Communist Party on its mission to create what its leader, Xi Jinping, calls a Community of Common Destiny. China's rise toward a great power must have roots in East Asia. Building the China-ASEAN community of common destiny created a major strategic opportunity and opened up bright prospects for the common development of China and ASEAN. The concept was proposed for the first time by President Xi Jinping in 2012. The notion features at the core of China's foreign policy, and has been highlighted in many international resolutions in 2017.

China seeks to reinforce hierarchy rather than sovereign equality, since hierarchy comprises a longstanding principle in Asia's historic international system with China accustomed to being at the top of such a hierarchy. China is carrying out a well-orchestrated, well-executed, very patient long-term strategy to replace the United States as the most powerful and influential nation on earth. This is reflected in this repeated use of the term community of common destiny which basically means a retreat from western values of democracy and freedom and openness towards some other model that benefits China. And their pursuit of this appears to be every element of their national power, military, commercial, trade, economics, information and media.

Xi believes that not only should Chinas model be the worlds model but also that Chinas leader should be the worlds leader. Xi suggests the world would be peaceful if Beijing ruled All Under Heaven. This tianxia worldview, which underpinned two millennia of Chinese history under the emperors, is increasingly evident in Chinas pronouncements and imagery and is of course fundamentally inconsistent with the existence of a multitude of sovereign states.

So when Xi speaks about a community of common destiny, he is most likely thinking of Chinas rich imperial past and suggesting he should hold sway over all domains, near and far. Beijings house scholars actively study the application of the tianxia system to the entire planet and Chinese officials offer it up in public for consideration, as Fei-Ling Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology notes in a new book, The China Order: Centralia, World Empire, and the Nature of Chinese Power.

Xi, for instance, increasingly employs tianxia language in his pronouncements. The Chinese have always held that the world is united and all under heaven are one family, he declared in his 2017 New Years Message. Foreign Minister Wang, in Study Times, the Central Party School newspaper, in September 2017 wrote that Xi Jinpings thought on diplomacy has made innovations on and transcended the traditional Western theories of international relations for the past 300 years. Wang with this time reference points to the system of sovereign states, which traces its roots to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.

China does not want to live within the current Westphalian system or even to adjust it. Its leaders, from every indication, are thinking of replacing it altogether. Chinese words are a signal that China will try to do away with what is seen as Westphalias cacophony with tianxias orderliness.

There is also, underlying this, a quite explicit message of noninterference and sovereignty. And that, of course, in Chinas case, fits directly into its worldview and how it would like other countries to treat it. China uses this very inclusive language to paint a picture that seems like a reasonable alternative to the liberal international order, one that appeals to small states, to countries that feel vulnerable, to those that feel that they might be safer or have more of a say in a multipolar world.

China is doing a very good job of keeping its "alternative China model" to the liberal international order deliberately vague so that different regimes can read into it what they choose to, simply as an alternative to what they might regard as having to respond to demands from western donors and western governments about things like human rights, transparency, reducing corruption, environmental protection, and other factors. China has promoted the community of common destiny to guide the integration of the Asian region. These ideals envision an Asia-Pacific region in which relations are nominally egalitarian but mediated through highly moralistic politics centered on deference to Chinese policy preferences, countries resolve disputes peacefully and address shared threats collaboratively, and policy prioritizes economic development and stability over issues of democracy and human rights.

While the concept of building a community of common destiny for mankind has been incorporated in the resolutions of the United Nations (UN), a series of global public goods provided alongside the opening up of China such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are spurring great momentum of cooperation.

At an October 2017 forum on Marxist studies in Shanghai, scholars hailed the concept of a community of common destiny as a great contribution that socialism with Chinese characteristics has made to the world. The community concept is a major innovation of Marxist international strategic theory based on a profound understanding of the world and the themes of the era, said Cheng Weili, a research fellow from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Problems like uneven global development have posed a stumbling block to West-led economic globalization, and globalization is taking on a series of new features, he said. This highlights the urgency of ending the dominance of developed countries over the international system, Cheng said. The concept of a community of common destiny lays a theoretical foundation for a new form of globalization, he said.

Wang Yonggui, a professor of Marxism at Nanjing Normal University, said the proposal of building a community of common destiny aims not only to create a favorable external environment for achieving the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation but also to push forward the construction of a fairer, more reasonable global governance system. The goal of forging a community of common destiny is to empower all countries, regardless of size or strength, to share the fruits of human progress, which conforms to their aspirations for peace, development, cooperation and progress, and reflects Chinas willingness to share its reform and development results.

The year 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. Premier Li Keqiang will attend the East Asia leaders' meeting in Brunei from Oct 9 to 10, among which the highlight will be the 16th China-ASEAN leaders' meeting. Standing at a new historical starting point, the summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will indicate the strategic direction of China-ASEAN relations and draw a blueprint for bilateral relations. It will have far-reaching consequences for economic integration as well as political and security landscape of East Asia and the entire Asia-Pacific region. In 2003, China-ASEAN relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership. China was the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, the first to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and the first to start free trade area negotiations with ASEAN.

While attending the Boao Forum for Asia in April 2013, President Xi Jinping stressed that China will further promote friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and ensure that China's development will bring even greater benefits to its neighbors. In September, Li attended the opening ceremony of the 10th China-ASEAN Expo and delivered a keynote speech, saying China's good-neighbor policy toward ASEAN is not a matter of expediency, but a long-term strategic option of China.

China proposed to build a China-ASEAN community of common destiny, discuss with ASEAN members the prospect of concluding a treaty of friendship and cooperation, create an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, establish an Asia infrastructure investment bank and build China-ASEAN think-tank networks. These new strategic initiatives, at a crucial time of China-ASEAN relations, will not only greatly promote China-ASEAN mutually beneficial cooperation and common development, but once again lead the overall peace and cooperation process in East Asia. The proposal to build a China-ASEAN community of common destiny showed China's political commitment and determination to promote good-neighbor friendship and deepen strategic mutual trust with ASEAN. It is not an expedient measure, but a long-term strategy; not an empty slogan, but has real policy implications and action plans. To build a China-ASEAN community of destiny, China will continue prioritizing ASEAN members in the country's peripheral diplomacy, deepening China-ASEAN strategic partnership and working together with ASEAN to maintain regional peace and stability.

Premier Li Keqiang attended the 17th ASEAN-China Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, capital of Myanmar, on 13 November 2014. Premier Li said China and ASEAN have a shared destiny and should become more integrated.

Xi, in speeches in Switzerland in January 2017, renewed his call for building a community of a shared future for mankind, offering inspiration to a world beset by rising challenges and risks. "All countries should jointly shape the future of the world, write international rules, manage global affairs and ensure that development outcomes are shared by all," said Xi.

Building a community of common destiny is "pretty significant" and "in the long run, it profits us all", said Philipp Charwath, chairman of the 55th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development in February 2017. For the first time, the concept was incorporated in a UN resolution that was approved by the commission. On 10 February 2017, the concept was incorporated for the first time in a UN resolution, which called on the international community to enhance support for Africa's development "in the spirit of win-win cooperation and to create a shared future, based upon our common destiny."

The United States presented an amendment (document A/72/L.72), proposing to delete the words: in the spirit of win-win cooperation and to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in operative paragraph 17. The US delegation objected to that language as ideologically driven and likely to increase conflict rather than defuse it. The United States would not join efforts by one State to promote its national agenda in the international arena.

On 17 March 2017, the notion of a "community of shared future for mankind" was written in UN resolution 2344, related to promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. The resolution quoted the phrase win-win and building a community of human destiny. And on 23 March 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted two resolutions on the "Question of the realization in all countries of economic, social and cultural rights", and the "Right to Food". Both the resolutions called for efforts "to build a community of shared future for human beings", marking the first time that the concept has been recorded into UN Human Rights Council resolutions.

The Committee of Disarmament and International Security of the 72nd Session of UN General Assembly on November 09, 2017 approved two draft resolutions on the prevention of an arms race in outer space: "No first placement of weapons in outer space" and "Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space." Both incorporated the concept of building a "community of shared future for mankind."




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