China told world leaders attending the meeting on Thursday that it considers itself part of the global South, saying it shares the goals and challenges of less developed countries and offers them alternatives to what it has long called “Western hegemony” . The message from a second-level official came after Chinese President Xi Jinping once again missed the annual meeting of the United Nations.
Xi sent Vice President Han Zheng to deliver a policy statement at the United Nations General Assembly leaders’ meeting, which laid out the government’s consistent stance in familiar language but appeared to focus on building coalitions around its development approach and international relations.
“As the largest developing country, China is a natural member of the Southern countries. China breathes the same breath and shares the same destiny with other developing countries.” He also said that China supports the development paths of these countries that are “in line with their own national conditions.”
The loosely defined term “global South”, which has appeared frequently at the United Nations this year, refers to countries in the world that are less developed and less wealthy than what are commonly called “first world countries.” They are not necessarily located in the Southern Hemisphere; In fact, many people are not.
Leaders of some of the larger developing countries, including Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and India’s Narendra Modi, have recently positioned themselves as leaders around whom the global South can rally. people. Just on Tuesday, Lula told leaders at a U.N. meeting that “Brazil is back,” in a speech widely viewed as an exercise in targeting the global South. Modi hosted the Voices of the Global South virtual summit in January.
China has been loosely playing a similar role for more than a decade – ever since Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative to boost China’s development, infrastructure and influence over other countries, especially developing countries. Even more so. The massive project was widely touted but had its share of bumps along the way.
Han Guoyu promised: “China will continue to be a member of the family of developing countries.”
The statement is in line with Beijing’s attempts to balance – often deftly – the benefits of remaining a developing country with the advantages of being a major global economic and diplomatic power and a counterweight to the West.
For decades, China has positioned its approach to domestic and international affairs as an alternative to “Western hegemony” since Deng Xiaoping launched “reform and opening up” after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. This contrary narrative is a common cornerstone of its international identity. Han Kuo-yu’s “Global South” statement on Thursday was consistent with long-standing sensitivities.
China benefits from its connections to the global South, which allows it to appear to represent many countries in its statements—countries that may not be strong enough to object if such a powerful government mischaracterizes them.
Whether China and its $18 trillion GDP should really be considered part of the Global South is an oft-debated question. In January this year, 125 countries participated in the Modi Summit, but China was not among them. This may have more to do with China’s often tense relationship with India than with China’s overall attitude toward the concept.
Xi Jinping is one of four leaders of permanent members of the United Nations Security Council who did not attend the United Nations this week. French President Emmanuel Macron, British President Sunak and Russian President Vladimir Putin also did not attend. The leader of the host country, US President Joe Biden, was the only permanent member of the Security Council to speak.
As Han attends the United Nations, China’s diplomatic operations appear to be in some disarray.
Many expect Foreign Minister Wang Yi to attend the convention and potentially pave the way for a meeting between Xi and Biden. Wang attended and delivered a speech last year. In the months since, the newly appointed foreign minister has come and gone somewhat mysteriously, with Wang Yi once again assuming the role.
In his speech, Han Han touched on common topics at such meetings in China. Among them:
– He reiterated that Taiwan is an island off the coast of China, has its own independent government, has historically been a part of China, and will always be – this is a frequent message to the United States and the world. After a civil war in 1949, the island split from the mainland.
——He said that China supports human rights that “suit our national conditions and meet the needs of the people.” Beijing’s repressive policies against the Uyghurs in the western Xinjiang region and against dissidents, including in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, have often come under Western scrutiny.
——He said that as China has said many times before, ceasefire and peace negotiations are the only way to end the war in Ukraine. China has adopted a delicate stance in the 18 months since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.