An Analysis on the Establishment of Global South Research Center by China

Release Date : 2024-07-01

Chou Wen-Feng, Assistant Professor, Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies, National Defense University

China held a conference marking the 70th Anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 28. Xi Jinping attended the conference and delivered a speech titled “Carrying Forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and Jointly Building a Community with a Shared Future of Mankind.”

Xi pointed out that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have become universally applicable basic norms for international relations and fundamental principles of international law. China will carry out the spirit and essence of these principles to build a community with shared future of mankind. When stating “we need to cement the foundation of mutual respect,” Xi shifted his focus on stressing that countries should show respect for each other’s core interests and major concerns, and for the development paths and systems independently chosen by people of all countries, and that countries must jointly uphold the golden rule of non-interference to others’ internal affairs, and jointly oppose acts of imposing one’s will on others, stoking bloc confrontation, creating small circles, and forcing others to take sides. His intention of making oblique accusations is clear.

Xi concluded with focus on Global South, announcing that China will establish a Global South Research Center to better support Global South cooperation. It will provide 1,000 scholarships under the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Scholarship of Excellence Program and 100,000 training opportunities to Global South countries in the coming five years. It will also launch a Global South Youth Leaders Program and discuss free trade arrangements with more Global South countries. It welcomes more Global South countries to join the Initiative on International Trade and Economic Cooperation Framework for Digital Economy and Green Development.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were first formulated by Zhou Enlai, China’s then Premier and Foreign Minister, when meeting with India delegation in 1953 at the backdrop of a border dispute between China and India. Then when Zhou visited India and Burma, the contents of theses principles were included in the join communiques signed with the prime ministers of the two countries as a basic guideline for the Chin-India and China-Burma relations. In its subsequent expansion to countries in Latin America and Arab region, the five principles were finalized as “mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence,” which had gradually become major principles of China’s foreign policy.

In his speech, Xi deliberately connected the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence with the history that “national independence and liberation movements swept across the globe, and the colonial system around the world crumbled and collapsed 70 years ago.” It intended to highlight the long-term relations Beijing has cultivated with developing countries; especially as China still positions itself as “the largest developing country in the world” and claims that “no matter what stage of development it reaches, China will always be part of the developing world.” China plans to shift its past experience of “surrounding cities from country sides” in revolution to handling foreign relations, in the hope to seek supports of wide developing countries including the Group of 77 (G77) and forums such as the China-Africa, China-Arab, and China-Latin America Forums in three major regions of developing countries. It intends to establish its significant influence internationally while “not seeking hegemony.”

In fact, China sent Li Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, as a special representative to attend the G77 and China Summit held in Cuba in last September. Li pointed out in his speech that the world is undergoing changes on a scale unseen in a century, and the developing countries are becoming stronger. The South-South cooperation is playing an increasingly important role in driving the momentum of the collective rise of developing countries and in sustaining the continued global economic growth. China will collaborate together with the Group 77 to build a Global South community with a shared future and usher into a new era of common development.

In the summit, there were discussions about cooperating with developing countries in areas such as food security, poverty reduction, industrialization, green and digital AI. And China would establish a Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund. However, the specific measures proposed by Xi this time to enhance cooperation with Global South are to justify relations with Global South and to attract them through open benefits The intention behind these efforts is explicitly clear.

Given that the term “Global South” does not just refer to a narrow geographic scope, it more broadly encompasses developing countries and even underdeveloped countries that have been overlooked in international politics and economics. When China, Russia, North Korea, Iran are gradually forming an implicit geopolitical axis to counter the western camp of US and Europe in the backdrop of global strategic situation, Beijing is increasingly expanding and deepening its relations with the Global South countries. It has applied diplomatic and united front strategies to present Global South as China’s traditional partners. It aims not only at winning international supports in multilateral arenas like the United Nations, but, more importantly, to continue creating favorable environment and situation for competing the global supremacy quietly.

When the Global South countries further embrace Beijing’s “anti-hegemony stance,” “one-China policy,” and “peace initiative,” and closely integrate with the “red supply chain” led by China, the Global South will become a powerful weapon and voice for China to confront the West. Though this has yet to materialize, its future development will influence the overall direction of international politics.

Translated to English by Tracy Chou