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China's global governance ambitions

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

China has developed inside a global governance system that has an architecture designed with minimal input from China.

The state of play: The country justifiably wants a bigger say now, but its increasing authoritarianism is raising concerns about its efforts to reshape global governance.

From the American perspective: Earlier this week, the Center for American Progress issued a report on China's global governance ambitions. Among the highlights...

The current global governance system is rules-based, and it privileges liberal democratic values and standards; Beijing’s alternative vision is a system based on authoritarian governance principles in which nations negotiate issues bilaterally instead of following common rules and standards.
From a liberal democratic perspective, if Beijing succeeds in bringing about that vision, the world will be less free, less prosperous, and less safe.
This report aims to provide a deeper and more nuanced perspective on China’s real global governance intentions by mapping what President Xi and other Chinese leaders are saying to their domestic audience and how Chinese foreign policy scholars interpret those statements...
Deeper analysis indicates that there is ample reason for concern. China’s stated goals include watering down liberal democratic principles and either replacing or augmenting them with authoritarian ones. At the same time, this analysis also reveals that liberal democracies have powerful levers for shaping China’s actions in the global governance space.

From the Chinese perspective: The Feb. 27 People's Daily had a page 1 article titled "Participating in the transformation of the global economic governance system (参与全球经济治理体系变革)." The article is the fifth in a series that the Communist Party's most authoritative newspaper is running on "grasping the new implications of developing our nation's important strategic opportunities." Some excerpts...

Today's world is once again at the "crossroads" of progress: the global governance system is undergoing profound changes and a new international order is being nurtured. As the world's second largest economy, China is fully capable of seizing new opportunities to participate in the transformation of the global economic governance system and play a more important role...
Since the international financial crisis, the trend of "east rising and west falling" and "south rising and north falling" in the global economic landscape has developed in depth.
Major emerging market countries have taken the lead in economic recovery and developing countries have contributed about 80% of the global economic growth. However, in the global economic governance, it has failed to form a symmetrical right, a matching voice and a reasonable compensation mechanism...

Why it matters: Xi and his government have an expansive agenda to reshape global systems to serve China's interests. Be wary of reports that Xi is somehow chastened and pulling back on global ambitions.