“There is only one system and one order in the world, that is, the international system with the United Nations at the core”. China’s Embassy in London said in a statement while responding to the declaration of G7 leaders’ summit last week.
“We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries. The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” it said.
Beijing challenged the relevance of the G7 bloc on unilateral decision-making on matters related to other countries, hitting back at the G-7 summit where Beijing was at the centre of severe criticism over the Covid-19 origins, human rights violations and its mega Belt and Road initiative.
At the summit of leaders of G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – held in London, the US made a strong bid to rally the allies against China’s growing economic clout and human rights record, besides its reluctance to agree to a probe into the Covid-19 pandemic origin.
The issues covered by the G7 Summit included pandemic response, economy, trade and global supply chains and US efforts to seize the opportunity to bond with other Western countries to safeguard the rules-based international system, thereby safeguarding the western markets from growing Chinese economic clout in Europe.
Majority of self-proclaimed global watchdogs, are largely NGOs/think tanks based in the West. They are perceived as authentic global regulators to monitor human rights, democratic values, corruption, freedom of speech and press, violence and racism and more of this. Over the years, they have managed to become global opinion makers. Some of the prominent watchdogs are Human Rights Group, FATF, Transparency International and similar. With the mushrooming of these watchdogs the significance of the UN has been diluted - if not rendered insignificant.
Over the years these entities have been much politicised and their integrity and acceptance compromised. While the human rights abuses in Palestine and Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are much ignored, the ones in China and Hong Kong are overexposed. While Pakistan is struggling to move out of the FATF grey list for years, others got off the hook in no time. While the Transparency International, in its yearly global rankings, lists the less privileged countries as most corrupt, it, however, ignores the rich influential countries that provide safe havens to the ill-gotten money.
The world has witnessed for decades turmoil and acute human suffering, human rights violations and other ills, notably, in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and in other less privileged regions. They have all been victims to their fate being manoeuvred and influenced by global power play and turf seeking by bigger powers. With this background, no country or any of the said NGOs/think tanks can claim to be the sincere and effective protector of human rights and other such values. Double standards have been at play at their worst and continue to do so.
The observation on China in the G7 declaration is meaningful, strong and first of its kind since China emerged on the global scene as an economic superpower. This inevitably could lead to long-term consequences and one can visualise a new world order emerging on the horizon.
In 2016, President Xi Jinping of China rolled out the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative of trade and connectivity around the globe to carve out a position of influence for his country in the global economy. Many smaller countries around the globe, even from Europe, opted to become the beneficiary of Belt and Road initiative.
The same phenomenon could shape up in global diplomacy as well. Smaller countries, whose fate is decided by powerful countries, are likely to rally behind China in the new carved out world order where they could have a voice of their own to successfully wean themselves away from the big power games that suck them in.
(The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021