Research and Opinion



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Jasna Plevnik on the second International Forum on Democracy: The Shared Human Values  held in Beijing on 23 March 2023


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March 2023,  was the month of global debates on democracy. In Beijing, two weeks ago, at the second "International Forum on Democracy as a Common Human Value", about 300 politicians and scientists from more than 100 countries and regions discussed the right of each country to choose its model of democracy. China believes that its economic and political model is the best for its development, but that each country must find its way of organizing the economy and politics.

Since 2013, China has been a world leader in the UN for launching initiatives to improve economic globalization for fairer global development, indivisible global security, for a new world order that gives priority to the interests of humanity and not to the geopolitical interests of the great powers, while the latest global civilization initiative calls on all countries to be tolerant towards countries with different cultures and political systems and to refrain from imposing their values or models on others in the name of democracy, as this destroys the essence of democracy.

This could be a message to America, which considers that its type of democracy is a perfect model for the international order and other countries, while those countries that do not follow this arrogant politics Washington labels as autocratic and dangerous for the international order and a threat to the Western system of free trade and the rule of law.

The Second International Forum on Democracy strongly opposed that relatively new trend of dividing the world into autocratic and democratic states because it leads to the creation of new economic and military blocs, reduces the number of neutral countries, and increases the chances of bloc military confrontations.

Already after 2017, relations between China and America have left a happier phase when American presidents took the lead in the policies of China's inclusion in the global economy and world governance. Today, America is working to suppress China economically and strategically at global and regional levels.

Last year, it adopted several laws that are hostile to China, economic globalization, the free market, the interests of American capitalists, but also the economic interests of the European Union, South Korea, and Japan.

The Biden administration overestimates its decision-making power on China's scope of globalization and the forms of China's involvement in the global economy. The future of economic globalization depends as much on China as on America. Both countries are the main pillars of today's global economy and China, like the US, has the power to decide for itself how deeply it wants to be globalized. Since 2000, the index of China's exposure to the world (trade, technology, and capital) has been falling, while the world's exposure to China has been rising.

In the Indo-Pacific, America is establishing new political and military alliances and is even flirting with the expansion of NATO in that direction how, as Washington explains, the region will become "open, democratic, peaceful and by international law." 

The US plans to supply Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines while China's goal is reaching an agreement to make Southeast Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

US strategists seriously overestimate China's will to take over the US's position in the world order and its will for geostrategic competition while underestimating China's achievements in global infrastructure development, poverty eradication, achievements in the fight against Covid-19 and China's peaceful global diplomacy efforts that have strengthened China, but also stability and prosperity of the world.

The words "dangerous China", which today in the West should be bowed before any conversation about China, were sent to the world to obscure the facts about real China.

US-China relations central for a better future 

There are many differences between America and China. China does not seek the end of economic globalization and Western neoliberalism, nor does it see the US as an adversary, but as a market competitor.

China does not rely on geopolitical doctrine to understand the world and shape its relations with other countries controlling them. It did not wage global or regional wars to control the geographical features of other countries to expand and ensure its prosperity and strategic supremacy, nor did it compete with other countries for territories and regions. There is no such thing as "Chinese geopolitics". China's narrative is not geopolitical, it speaks of global cooperation and "joint development".

US-China relations are central for the future of world order, and conflict between America and China is not an option now, or in a hundred years.

Both powers have a moral duty to change the world for the better, and for that, they must coexist and cooperate. China and America impress each other in many things, regardless of political differences and economic wars, and they could find ways to ease tensions in the relations and strengthen cooperation, especially since their bilateral trade is currently reaching new records, as recently announced by the German Economic Institute.