Editor’s note: In the last decade, the world has increasingly witnessed the trend of “East rises, West declines” in the fields of economy, security and discourse power. Western countries, especially the United States, plagued by internal problems, have sought the old way of shifting responsibility and fomenting turmoil elsewhere to relieve their pressure. China, a representative of emerging countries, is proposing new solutions to global problems. By advocating win-win development, facilitating consultation and reconciliation, and proposing a balanced and effective security mechanism, China strives to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
In this interview, Danilo Türk, the former president of Slovenia, told Global Times (GT) journalist Lu Yuanzhi that in the last decade, China has once again shown that it is capable of adapting to changing circumstances. He noted that the most impressive feature of the past decade is the resilience and determination of the people of China to strive for new levels of development.
GT: You have visited China several times. How do you see the changes in China in the last decade? What role did the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership play in this?
Turk: The last decade has been very dynamic. It has been a decade of significant achievements for China, such as eradicating extreme poverty and becoming one of the most technologically advanced powers with the potential to take the lead in technology in the next decade. In a historically uniquely short period, it has transformed from the “factory of the world” into a technological leader and a source of new visions, such as the vision of a “new era of eco-civilization”.
At the same time, China has once again demonstrated its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The concepts and practices of “double-circulation” and “shared prosperity” demonstrate the ability to adapt. The resilience and determination of the people of China to strive for new levels of development is the most impressive feature for a foreign observer like me. Clearly, this requires strong leadership, which the CPC has provided. It is impressive to hear President Xi Jinping and the CPC constantly emphasize the importance of innovation. In fact, innovation is the key to progress towards new levels – not only in technology, but also in economy and socio-political development.
GT: President Xi proposed the Global Security Initiative this year and the Global Development Initiative last year. What is your view on the importance of China’s solution to global governance?
Turk: Each of these two initiatives provides an important conceptual framework for the future. Now they have to be followed by more detailed projects. They can be many and quite diverse. Let me give two examples. In the field of economic and social development, it is necessary to find new ways to solve the growing debt crisis affecting a large number of developing countries and, in parallel, new models of partnership between public and private creditors to strengthen investment in the defense of the world public. commodities, especially global climate.
China is a major player in global finance. Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank will have to be given new mandates and groups such as the Paris Club of Creditors will need to be reformed. Such tasks should be part of the implementation of the Global Development Initiative. Another important area is global action to eradicate extreme poverty and social improvement in general. The preparation of the World Summit on Social Development in 2025, proposed by the UN Secretary-General, will be an opportunity to act in this regard.
The global security initiative will have to contribute to the revival of the global security system, at the center of which is the UN. Currently, the world is moving towards a dangerous fragmentation of the global security landscape. Exclusive security arrangements such as NATO can help global security, but only if they operate within a globally established balance of power and international law. International security cannot be based only on exclusive clubs. Global security is indivisible. To maintain world peace, the United Nations – the only inclusive world organization – should be given a proper role.
GT: How has China affected the world order in the last decade? What will China’s contributions be in the future?
Turk: China’s influence over the last decade has been great. China played an important role in overcoming the global financial crisis that began in 2007 and lasted for many years. In this situation, China’s role in the G20 group was the key to success. China also played an important role in the drafting of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015 and in the consensus within the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals in the same year. These are some examples of China’s positive role in the world order.
The future is more difficult to predict. Currently, the world is characterized by competition and confrontation, not cooperation. China can make a significant contribution to finding a better balance between competition, which is likely to remain strong, and cooperation, which is necessary and needs to be strengthened. The world today needs a breather – and serious moves towards de-escalation, a new generation of de-escalation between the great powers. We know from the second half of the last century that the period of detente enabled the most important progress. Today’s leaders know well what it takes to defuse tensions. But China can help guide political processes in the world towards a common and better future for all.
GT: When Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulations with Slovenian President Borut Pahor in May on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, President Pahor said that as an EU member, Slovenia actively supports EU-China strengthening. relationships. But in Europe, there are some noticeable voices calling for the continent to break away from China and join the US in the fight against China. What do you think of such voices? Are you optimistic about the future of China-Europe ties?
Turk: Divorce is an undesirable phenomenon. But it’s also complicated. There are serious analyzes that show that the “coupling and decoupling” in economic cooperation has been going on for years, and that both the EU and China are doing both. However, it is true that both China and the EU need a good cooperation framework. The Comprehensive Investment Agreement, which was approved in principle at the end of 2020, is such a framework. Unfortunately, subsequent EU sanctions and China’s retaliation put this agreement on hold. I believe that leaders on both sides should gradually reduce and eventually phase out measures that harm both of them and that they should revive the agreement.
In the same vein, I think it would be wise for the US to decide to remove some of its tariffs imposed during Donald Trump’s “trade war against China”. In short, I can’t be optimistic right now. But I believe there are better ways forward. They involve careful consideration now and effective confidence building in the near future. Reducing and possibly phasing out the restrictions introduced over the years would be good confidence-building measures.
GT: Europe is plagued by high inflation. What is your opinion on the fact that Europe has become a major victim of the Ukrainian crisis? What challenge do you think Europe is facing?
Turk: Signs of inflation were already visible towards the end of 2021, before the outbreak of the current phase of the armed conflict in Ukraine. While it is true that the war and the sanctions that followed worsened the situation, it would be wrong to say that inflation is the result of the Ukraine crisis. Inflation is largely the result of expansionary monetary and fiscal policy, which is necessary to prevent the severe economic fallout that would otherwise follow the shutdowns due to COVID-19. What is particularly worrying now is the fact that inflation is being exacerbated by a cascade of crises – food, energy, public debt.
These crises affect the whole world. Europe found itself in a very delicate situation. European countries have not had high inflation for more than a decade, in some cases for several decades. And the European Central Bank’s response came late. This creates problems outside of finance and economics. We know from history that high inflation has a corrosive effect on societies. It affects the social fabric and brings political instability. Now all European countries must do everything to tame inflation, and quickly. The European Union will play an important role. At the same time, it will be necessary to find a more effective way to solve the Ukrainian crisis.
GT: In June, it was reported that you participated in the signing of an open letter in which you called on the new Slovenian government to “take a reasonable position on the war in Ukraine”, which will lead to “serious peace talks” between Ukraine and Russia. Why did you sign such an open letter? What point of view do you find “sensible”?
Turk: The critical question is how to stop the war. This will require a great deal of realism and courage, in other words a “reasonable attitude”. Currently, the devastation continues and there seems to be no meaningful initiative to stop the war. The European Union seems to be completely dominated by its practice of sanctions – an approach that can cause a lot of damage, even for the EU in particular, but does little to solve the crisis. Therefore, the current approach needs to be expanded to include a vision of a cessation of hostilities and subsequent peace talks. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger offered some ideas in his recent interviews that were widely published in Europe.
Furthermore, the current sanctions-based approach reinforces a narrative that suggests an inevitable ideological struggle between “democracies and autocracies”, i.e. between West and East. This should be a serious concern. “Sane” politics should avoid the trap of paralyzing much-needed global cooperation through ideological confrontation. The world’s most urgent tasks, especially the task of saving the world’s wealth, require global cooperation, not global ideological conflict.
This article was first published in Global Times on August 14, 2022. Global Times is an English-language Chinese tabloid under the umbrella of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.