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For all to reap the benefits


Global Development Initiative is another public good provided by China to foster collective action for shared development

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened some deglobalization trends, such as trade and technological decoupling, and the ruptures in supply chains, affecting many development options for countries. According to the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook in October 2022, global economic growth is projected to slow down from 6 percent in 2021 to 3.2 percent in 2022, and 2.7 percent in 2023. The Chinese government proposed a Global Development Initiative in 2021, denoting a political will to coordinate effective collective action in order to address some of the most problematic world development issues.

The GDI offers a practical way to pursue a new type of global development based on innovative practices for the promotion of economic improvement. First, it calls for countries to stay committed to shared development as a priority through the global macro policy framework. For this, as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced in September, China has promoted 50 practical cooperation projects focused on poverty reduction, food security and industrialization, efforts that have paid off. For instance, in Cambodia, construction of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has just been completed and it opened to the public on a monthlong trial basis on Oct 1. Meanwhile, a 700-megawatt power plant is being constructed in Sihanoukville.

Second, the GDI calls for countries to stay committed to realizing harmony between man and nature, and renewing their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, to which end many practical moves have been made by China, for example, the Global Clean Energy Cooperation Partnership or the World Digital Education Alliance. It has also launched the "R&D and Applications for Innovative Bamboo Products as Substitutes for Plastics" project, which is the outcome of the collaboration between China's International Centre for Bamboo and Rattan and the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization in July 2022.

Third, the GDI searches for the reactivation of cooperative development based on the building of a global community with a shared future, the importance of shared interests, South-South cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative as the main platform and the SDGs as the key goals. This implies advancing on a priority basis cooperation on poverty alleviation, food security, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, the digital economy and connectivity, among other areas. Among these, China has promoted several projects, for example, technical aid to boost rice production in Guinea Bissau, or the construction of a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical warehouse in Zimbabwe in 2022.

China's efforts to improve the global development situation, even by leading collective action, have resulted in practical projects that target one or many development obstacles in different countries. On the contrary, in recent years the United States has concentrated its efforts on diminishing China's international presence, instead of endeavoring to strengthen global development.

The consolidation of a new type of global development lies in the comprehensive dynamic of promoting a new type of international relations and a new type of great power relationship. On the one hand, it is necessary to understand that the world is a global village in which the only universality is diversity, and, as President Xi Jinping remarked, there is no universal development path in the world, but multiple forms of development profoundly rooted in the historical features of nations.

Most obstacles to economic development in the past have been caused by forcing a "one-size-fits-all" economic model on many countries and regions. On the other hand, it is essential for China and the US to embark on a new form of interaction in order not only to avoid the Thucydides Trap, but most of all to prevent the Kindleberger Trap in which there is scarcity in the provision of global public goods.

China's global identity is evidenced in its willingness to provide global public goods, a situation that not only comprehends financing global economic governance, but also coordinates collective action to assure the participation of countries in global development efforts. The US' international image has changed in the last few decades, from having a global presence in the 1990s to a more focused regional presence (mainly in the Middle East) in the 2000s, and then a noninternational presence with Donald Trump's "America First" focus in recent years.

This has caused the US to withdraw from multilateral schemes to provide global public goods, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change. Even though the Joe Biden administration has returned to that agreement to some extent and the US has a more international presence, the aim of its reconnection with the world is to contain China, and not to promote better global governance. Consequently, as turbulence roils the world, the GDI is of paramount importance, as it provides a road map for comprehensive global cooperation for development in general, and a development-focused collaboration between China and the US in particular.

The author is an associate professor and researcher at the Politics and Culture Department of the Metropolitan Autonomous University and chair of the Mexican Eurasia Studies Group. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn