Country Report: China (June 2018)

In the spring of 2018, Chinese experts reacted to the Kim–Trump summit and evaluated the prospects for resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, assessed South Korea’s role in East Asian politics, and evaluated Australia’s increasingly interventionist South China Sea policy. They also examined Trump’s China policy and analyzed how the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) illustrates China’s pursuit of a new model of global governance.

North Korea

In early June, Chinese analysts responded to the Kim–Trump summit. On Haiwaiwang (June 12, 2018), Jia Xiudong reacted quite positively to the meeting and its four-point document, which he summarized as offering North Korea security in exchange for denuclearization. Jia saw the summit as achieving three major successes.

First, Jia applauded both sides for agreeing to talk. Given the history of a nasty war of words between Trump and Kim, North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, and US military exercises and sanctions, Jia congratulated the leaders of both countries for curbing their actions before they went too far. Their willingness to engage in a dialogue and their ability to actually agree on a time and a place for the summit strengthen the prospects for peace and stability on the peninsula.

Second, Jia praised Kim and Trump for the historical decision to meet in person, as well as their joint statement. Although Jia blames the Trump administration for nearly derailing the talks through hostile mentions of the “Libya model,” he was encouraged that North Korea, after initially lashing out, responded mildly to Trump’s letter canceling the summit, thereby leaving an opening for preparations to resume. Jia argues that the two sides’ decision to go ahead with the summit demonstrates that both sides needed the meeting to happen, and that they have developed more realistic understandings of the other’s position. In his view, North Korea understands that it cannot have long-lasting peace and security or avoid sanctions and isolation without a commitment to denuclearization, while the United States has backed away, at least for now, from its policy of “maximum pressure.” Quoting Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Jia enthused about watching two long-time enemies “conduct an equal dialogue,” a phrase that is sure to rile up American critics who saw the summit as legitimizing Kim’s dictatorship.

Finally, Jia commended the two countries for their joint statement, which committed, in principle, to establishing bilateral relations, achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula, pursuing denuclearization, and continuing negotiations. Nevertheless, Jia recognized that the declaration, which has been widely panned by US observers for its vagueness, does not go beyond the September 19, 2005 joint statement released during the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks. Still, given the deterioration of the situation since then, Jia views even a return to the 2005 starting point as a positive sign.

Jia concludes that the two countries’ ability to achieve denuclearization and peace on the peninsula will determine the true historical importance of the meeting. Recognizing the many skeptics in the United States, he argues that the key will be preventing side issues that may crop up from undermining the leaders’ commitment to resolving the crisis.

On (June 12, 2018), Chen Fengjian calls for the United States to remove its troops from South Korea. Chen first defends the Chinese decision to remove its troops (technically the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army) from the Korean Peninsula in 1958, which demonstrated the strategic trust between the leaders of North Korea and China. It also allowed the two countries to establish friendly, normal relations. Furthermore, removing Chinese troops allowed China to take the moral high ground as a strong advocate of peninsular peace and to normalize relations with the United States and South Korea. Although Chen recognizes that some observers may believe that North Korea would not have pursued nuclear weapons if the Chinese troops had stayed because it would have been protected under the Chinese nuclear umbrella, he rejects the comparison to the US–South Korea situation, without providing any reasoning or evidence for his contention.

Chen contrasts China’s decision to remove its troops from the peninsula with the US refusal to do so. Although various US administrations have talked about gradually withdrawing troops and the number of deployed troops has decreased, the installation of THAAD and the nuclear umbrella that the United States provides to South Korea have strengthened the US military position in the sixty years since China withdrew its forces. He argues that the United States sees its troop deployment as an important part of its efforts to control the future of the peninsula, maintain its regional leadership position, and check the ambitions of China and Russia.

Nevertheless, Chen asserts that the drawbacks of the US decision to maintain troops in South Korea far exceed the benefits. In particular, he blames the large imbalance in military capabilities between North and South Korea for inspiring North Korea to seek nuclear capabilities. Chen also argues that the deployments have made South Korea’s government subservient to US hegemonic interests and hindered its diplomatic and military autonomy. These troops have prevented the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula. In light of the potential turning point presented by the Kim–Trump summit, Chen argues that the United States will not be able to persuade North Korea to denuclearize unless it offers North Korea a stronger sense of security by rethinking its troop deployment.

In Xiandai Guoji Guanxi, No. 2, 2018, Lin Limin takes a broader perspective on the North Korean nuclear crisis, arguing that negotiations have long proven futile because they have framed the issue as one of nuclear proliferation while discounting the more fundamental geopolitical strategic concerns that motivate each of the main actors. Lin argues that North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, without regard for international condemnation, sparked the crisis. This blatant violation of international norms has led the international community to perceive North Korea as a “criminal” regime and reinforced the non-proliferation framing of the crisis. However, members of the international community have failed to sufficiently consider why exactly North Korea is willing to absorb such high costs to its reputation in pursuit of nuclear capabilities.

To understand North Korea’s actions, Lin asserts, one must analyze the situation from a geopolitical perspective. In the post-Cold War environment, North Korea felt isolated and strategically vulnerable as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the United States became the sole superpower, China normalized relations with South Korea, and South Korea’s economy took off. In Lin’s view, North Korea sought nuclear weapons out of a sense of desperation in order to strengthen its position against its many opponents. Given the fundamental role of nuclear weapons in North Korea’s security strategy, its participation in international negotiations was a delaying tactic designed to buy it time to fully develop its nuclear weapons capabilities.

Other regional players also approach the nuclear issue based on fundamentally geopolitical motives. Chief among them is the United States. Lin argues that several factors have motivated US North Korea policy since the Clinton era. First, the United States consistently underestimated North Korea’s ability to develop nuclear weapons for a number of years, and only really acknowledged the threat after the fifth nuclear test in 2016. In addition, the United States oversubscribed to what Lin terms “North Korean collapse theory,” believing the North Korean regime to be far more unstable than it has proven to be. As a consequence, the United States focused its planning on issues that would arise after the fall of the North Korean regime, such as how to handle nuclear materials, the possibility of Korean unification, and whether China would intervene, instead of focusing on preventing North Korea from gaining possession of nuclear materials. This approach, which combined a “wait and see” mentality with pressure to accelerate the regime’s collapse, formed the basis for the US policy of “strategic patience.” Third, the United States had an incentive to delay a resolution to the crisis because it benefited from the maintenance of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Resolution would bring complications for other US regional priorities; for example, resolution of the crisis might eliminate the justification for the US stationing of troops in South Korea and could threaten the viability of its alliances with South Korea and Japan. Fourth, the United States developed its North Korea policy in the context of its broader concerns about how to respond to China’s rise. Growing instability in Northeast Asia has provided justification for the deployment of US military assets in the region, such as THAAD, and bound South Korea, Japan, and the United States more tightly together in opposition to China. Finally, the United States has attempted to manage the North Korea threat while also dealing with a wide variety of other more pressing global concerns, most notably the fight against terrorism and its wars in the Middle East.

In Lin’s analysis, the tendency to overestimate the probability of regime collapse in North Korea and underestimate its ability to develop nuclear weapons has also influenced South Korean and Japanese policies toward North Korea. In addition, South Korea is concerned about how North Korea’s nuclear policy affects the prospects for Korean unification. South Korea’s main objectives are to undermine the North Korean regime and achieve unification of the peninsula under a South Korean government. Nevertheless, South Korea is worried about taking on the burden of the social welfare programs that would be necessary to support citizens from the economically devastated north. South Korea wants to sit back and allow China and the United States to resolve the crisis, but also worries that these two countries will gain too much influence over the peninsula. Meanwhile, Japan’s geopolitical concerns are relatively uncomplicated. North Korea does not pose as much of a direct threat to Japan as to South Korea, and Japan has not played as predominant of a role in global non-proliferation efforts as the United States. In contrast, the North Korean nuclear crisis mainly provides a cover under which Japan’s conservatives can strengthen its military capabilities and pursue constitutional revision. Nevertheless, Lin does recognize Japan’s particular concerns, including the abduction issue. Russia’s geopolitical motivations are similarly straightforward. Like Japan, it does not face much of a direct threat from North Korea. Instead, it is primarily concerned with expanding its influence over peninsular affairs, limiting US and European constraints on its behavior, and strengthening its relations with China.

Despite China’s increasing responsibility for global governance, including maintaining the non-proliferation regime, Lin asserts that its primary motivations are geopolitical. China’s fundamental position on the resolution of the crisis is well established: there should be no war, no disorder, and no nuclear weapons on the peninsula. In addition, any reunification must be peaceful and voluntary. In addition, China has broader geopolitical concerns: it is concerned about maintaining stable relations with the United States, avoiding a new cold war in Northeast Asia, preventing Japan from taking military measures that would constrain China’s rise, and denying Japan and South Korea a reason to seek stronger alliance relations with the United States.

Lin’s outlook for resolution of the crisis is pessimistic. Lin blames the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations for failing to head off North Korea’s nuclear program while they still could and criticizes the Obama administration for pushing the responsibility for resolving the crisis onto China. Nevertheless, given the fundamental incompatibility of these six countries’ geopolitical objectives and the important role nuclear weapons play in North Korea’s security strategy, it is not clear from Lin’s analysis that the United States could have prevented the crisis even if it had taken more decisive military action at an earlier stage. Lin believes that the competing interests of China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States prevent them from presenting a unified front against the North Korean threat. Meanwhile, North Korea clearly benefits from possessing nuclear capabilities. From this perspective, it seems unlikely that the subsequent Kim–Trump summit has fundamentally changed the underlying dynamics motivating the main actors.

South Korea’s Role in East Asia

In Taipingyang Xuebao, No. 3, 2018, Liu Shengxiang and Jiang Jiamin assess the role that South Korea plays in East Asian politics. As South Korea manages a complex security environment, characterized by a divided peninsula and a nuclear North Korea, it must maneuver between the United States and China, which each have their own regional interests. South Korea’s fundamental strategic objective is ensuring its security. At the same time, it also seeks continued economic growth and development, which are necessary to support its military objectives; greater regional and global influence; and, eventually, reunification of the peninsula.

Unable to resolve its security concerns on its own, South Korea must rely on China and the United States. South Korea has long relied on its alliance with the United States and the nuclear umbrella it provides. Nevertheless, Liu and Jiang argue that the US–South Korea alliance should no longer be seen as merely a military alliance, but rather as a more comprehensive alliance that arises from shared values and mutual trust. Despite closer US–South Korea ties, South Korea also seeks warmer relations with China, which has become South Korea’s largest trade partner. South Korea recognizes that China plays a vital role in resolving the North Korean crisis (although the thaw of the first half of 2018 was predominately initiated by South Korea and the United States). It hopes to persuade China to use its influence over North Korea to advance South Korea’s strategic interests, while gaining Chinese support for increasing South Korea’s regional influence and for its pursuit of reunification. South Korea’s foreign policy involves a delicate balancing act, in which it must take care not to move too close to either China or the United States for fear of upsetting the other.

At the same time, Liu and Jiang argue that the United States sees South Korea as a useful tool in its attempts to contain China’s rise and maintain US regional and global hegemony. They contend that the United States is worried about losing its influence in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific and values the continued existence of a strong US-centered alliance system to check China’s rise. Strong US–South Korea relations enable the United States to continue to station troops in South Korea and conduct bilateral military exercises (paused by Trump after the June 2018 summit) and support trilateral US–South Korea–Japan and quadrilateral US–South Korea–Japan–Australia cooperation. The United States has also supported South Korea’s global ambitions because it needs its support for global US military, political, and economic policies. However, the United States worries that China will succeed in pulling away South Korea.

Likewise, China sees South Korea as playing an important role in enabling China to achieve its main strategic objective of ensuring a stable regional environment so that it can achieve a peaceful rise, continued economic development, and the “rejuvenation” of the Chinese people. To achieve these objectives, China needs South Korea to hold positions on Taiwan, the disputes in the South and East China seas, and the Korean nuclear crisis that are consistent with China’s priorities. China sees South Korea as an influential, economically developed middle power which, despite ideological and political differences that push it closer to Japan and the United States, shares a common Confucian culture with China. Although South Korea is a strategic partner of China, China recognizes that the broadening nature of the US-South Korea alliance means that those two states will often act in unison in ways that may contradict Chinese interests. Nevertheless, China hopes that South Korea will support Chinese priorities, such as peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula and regional development and stability (by participating in Chinese initiatives like the AIIB and the BRI). China also wants South Korea to refrain from picking sides between the United States and China.

Although China, the United States, and South Korea share certain interests, including opposition to North Korean nuclear and missile tests, US–China tensions and the uncertainties of the North Korean nuclear crisis cause South Korea to waver between the two great powers. Sometimes South Korea tries to create more policy autonomy from the United States so that it will not be coopted as a tool to balance China. Such moves result in closer ties with China, as when South Korea entered the AIIB and signed the China–South Korea FTA. Yet, there are also policy differences between China and South Korea. China is concerned that the US–South Korea alliance is mainly directed against China and that the United States, South Korea, and Japan will seek a military resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. While South Korea wants China to use its influence over North Korea to moderate the Kim regime’s behavior, China wants the North and South to continue their dialogue (in spring 2018, China has been getting what it wants).

South Korea attempts to balance between the two great powers, but its room for policy autonomy is somewhat limited. For example, Liu and Jiang argue that although South Korea initially opposed THAAD deployment, it ultimately agreed under US pressure. They argue that this episode demonstrates that at this crucial moment, South Korea valued its alliance relations with the United States more than its strategic partnership with China. Since then, however, South Korean–Chinese ties have warmed substantially. Ultimately, Liu and Jiang conclude that South Korea will continue to try to create more diplomatic space for itself.

Australia’s South China Sea Strategy

In Guoji Guancha, No. 2, 2018, Liu Changming and Sun Tong argue that Australia has moved to a more interventionist approach to the South China Sea dispute because of its own concerns about China’s rise and shifts in US policy. Liu and Sun first trace the evolution of Australia’s policy. Under the Rudd and Gillard administrations (2007–2013), Australia took a restrained “wait and see” approach. Once Abbott came to power (2013–2015), Australia began to cautiously enter the dispute as an “interested party.” Under Turnball (2015–present), Australia moved to a much more openly interventionist position, with the July 2016 Hague tribunal decision serving as a key turning point. Australia responded to the decision by issuing a stern diplomatic statement urging China to abide by the ruling and more strongly asserted its position as an “interested party.” Although the Australian position eased somewhat in 2017 as Sino–Philippine tensions decreased, Liu and Sun argue that Australia will continue to use the South China Sea dispute as an opportunity to check China’s rise.

Liu and Sun assert that Australia’s perception of China as a growing threat to its national interests motivated the transition to a more interventionist policy. Based on their interpretation of history and current events, Australians worry that China’s rise will eventually enable it to reshape the Asia-Pacific regional order, and that Australia may be unable to maintain its strategic position in this new order. At the same time, they argue that Australia has followed along with shifts in the policy of the United States, its key ally. Australia must cooperate with the United States to balance China because it is not strong enough to do so on its own and because, since World War II, it has relied on the US security umbrella as a key part of its security strategy. Furthermore, Liu and Sun assert that Australia’s “middle power” identity also drives its more interventionist strategy as it seeks to play a more important global role.

As tensions in the South China Sea eased in 2017, Australia’s position eased even as it continued to follow the US lead. Although Australia continue to insist that China must follow the Hague tribunal’s ruling and domestic discussions of the “China threat” remained prominent, Australia also declined to participate in US-led patrols and avoided the topic in meetings with Chinese officials. Liu and Sun contend that Australia is reluctant to choose sides between China and the United States, but that it will ultimately follow the United States even as it tries to create more diplomatic space for its own autonomous policy. In 2017–2018, Trump’s focus on great power politics and his support for quadrilateral cooperation to contain China, combined with rising domestic anxiety about China’s rise, resulted in public criticism of Chinese behavior. However, Australia’s economic reliance on China (accentuated, in Liu and Sun’s view, by the US decision to leave the TPP) resulted in vaguer official statements as Australia refrained from overtly picking sides. Liu and Sun expect this trend to continue as China’s influence increases and its relations with Australia become closer.

Although Australia’s attempts to find a path between China and the United States are a major component of its South China Sea policy, Liu and Sun expect several other factors to influence its policy. Australia strongly supports a multilateral framework to resolve the dispute and seeks to cooperate with ASEAN and encourage the adoption of a legally binding Code of Conduct. Australia also urges the parties to the dispute to jointly exploit resources in the South China Sea, without abandoning their territorial and maritime claims. In addition, Australia is strengthening its military relations with ASEAN member states. Since Australia faces pressure from Chinese–US competition, Liu and Sun anticipate that it will most likely strengthen its navy and promote strategic cooperation with Indonesia and Philippines on a range of issues that extend to traditional security.

Liu and Sun conclude that although the South China Sea dispute looks like a bilateral disagreement between China and ASEAN member states, it is actually part of the broader competition between China and the United States for influence over the Asia-Pacific regional order. Australia formulates its South China policy in response to the strategic game being played between China and the United States and will ease its position on the South China Sea as China’s regional influence increases.

Trump’s China Policy

In Shijie Jingji yu Zhengzhi, No. 3, 2018, Wang Hao joins a cottage industry of analysts attempting to understand the Trump administration’s China policy. Wang identifies three key differences between Trump’s policy and Obama’s. First, while Obama used economic, diplomatic, and security measures to check China’s rise under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific rebalance, Trump is more focused on bilateral relations and has pulled the United States away from multilateral economic and diplomatic engagement (such as the TPP). Second, US China policy is “splintering” as the focus shifts from broader regional concerns to concrete, narrower issues. Wang believes Trump’s transactional and outcome-oriented approach will lead to smoother bilateral relations. Finally, Wang notes that under Trump the effects of individual leaders are more pronounced, as evident through more frequent interactions and high-level dialogues.

Crucially, Wang highlights a fundamental tension between two strains of thought on China in the United States. On the one hand, Trump and his anti-establishment, nativist supporters advocate a pragmatic approach that highlights concrete issues like reducing the bilateral trade deficit and promoting US business interests. On the other hand, a second (and presumably much larger) cohort of thinkers, consisting of Trump-affiliated hawks, congressional conservatives, and “globalists” in the Washington establishment, take what Wang portrays as a more zero-sum approach to China–US relations. Because they emphasize security issues and view China as the main strategic competitor to the United States, they encourage the United States to take a harder line on issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Taking a historical view, Wang attempts to interpret current US policy in the broader context of its approach to China since 1949. He argues that US policy has veered between a geopolitical approach, which emphasizes security issues, and a domestic politics approach, which emphasizes factional economic interests. From 1949–1971, the United States engaged in a geopolitics-dominated containment strategy characterized by strategic balancing and economic nationalism. This policy was driven by the Cold War and US attempts to contain communism, the lack of diplomatic relations, and strong nationalism in each country. Once the two countries began to normalize relations, the United States shifted to a geopolitics-dominated engagement strategy (1972–1991), characterized by strategic restraint and economic liberalism. With the end of the Cold War, US policy evolved into a domestic politics-dominated engagement strategy (1992–2008) but remained committed to strategic restraint and economic liberalism. The global financial crisis and Obama’s election brought a fundamental shift to a hedging policy (2009–2016) that incorporated both geopolitical and domestic influences and was composed of strategic balancing and economic liberalism. Domestic politics drove much of US global policy as the country attempted to rebuild after the financial crisis. Nevertheless, as evident from the Asia-Pacific rebalance, policy toward China took on a more geopolitical cast as the United States responded to China’s rise, and growing bilateral interdependence created a relationship that was increasingly both competitive and cooperative.

In this context, Trump has adopted a domestic politics-dominated “linkage policy” that combines strategic restraint with economic nationalism, even as foreign policy elites push for a more geopolitical approach. According to Wang, this transformation in foreign policy has been largely driven by shifts in political party identification in the United States. Trump’s dependence on anti-establishment, nativist voters, whom Wang identifies as largely white, blue-collar workers, means that his foreign policy is focused on minimizing the harm that globalization has brought to this voting bloc. With regard to China, Trump is focused on reducing the bilateral trade imbalance and encouraging greater Chinese investment in US manufacturing and infrastructure. At the same time, Trump is trying to decrease the costs of US North Korea policy so that he can shift these resources to domestic social and economic issues. This has led to a policy of strategic restraint toward China, as Trump tries to persuade China to take on more of the burden for resolving the North Korea issue (this article was written before Trump sidelined the Chinese by seeking his own arrangements with Kim Jong-Un and launched a trade war against China).

Wang next considers several manifestations of Trump’s domestic politics-driven linkage policy of strategic restraint and economic nationalism. At the bilateral level, the Trump administration has emphasized frequent high-level exchanges and visits between the leaders. At the regional level, Trump has steered the United States away from the Asia-Pacific rebalance and left the TPP. Globally, US ambitions have contracted as it pursues an “America First” policy. As the United States shows less interest in global governance and multilateral initiatives, there is naturally less China–US competition for influence in these areas. At the same time, however, Trump has adopted a realist-based “transactional” approach to China–US relations and continues to push hard to advance US security and economic interests. Wang expects the Trump administration to put continued pressure on China on issues of trade (although he probably did not anticipate how heated the situation would get in spring 2018) and North Korea. In a policy approach that harkens back to Clinton’s failed attempt to link MFN status to improvements in human rights, Trump uses one issue area to exert pressure on another (in contrast to the policy of the Clinton administration, however, it is hard to identify what the carrot is now).

Finally, Wang considers the implications that the two competing strands of US China policy hold for its future. Although he is pleased with Trump’s efforts to reverse the Asia-Pacific rebalance, he is worried about the continued influence of those who advocate a geopolitical approach. These critics, who worry that Trump’s policy will hand over the US global leadership role to the Chinese and focuses too narrowly on short-term, economic interests, try to influence China policy in a number of ways. First, because Trump is uninvolved in day-to-day policy making, Wang worries that these so-called “hardliners” will quietly insert their preferences into policy documents. Second, Wang is concerned that Congressional conservatives will use legislation to advance their priorities, particularly regarding Taiwan. Finally, he highlights the strategic consensus among foreign policy elites on the need to balance China, which has reinvigorated “China threat theory.” China must be prepared to manage these two strands of thought. If Trump can maintain US–China cooperation on the economy and North Korea, he can satisfy his base and stave off the “hardliners.” However, if his linkage policy runs into trouble, the result will likely be strategic balancing and a “new Cold War” in Northeast Asia. Although Wang is skeptical that the United States can contain China in the long term, he worries about its potential to do so over the short term. Wang concludes that the relative strength of the anti-establishment and “globalist” factions will determine the future of US China policy, with interactions between the two states playing an important external role.

China and Global Governance

In Waijiao Pinglun, No. 2, 2018, Qin Yaqing and Wei Ling assess the implications of the recent deficit in global governance for China’s future international role. Growing populism and anti-globalization currents have weakened global governance, but in an increasingly interconnected world there are many problems that cannot be solved unilaterally. Qin and Wei argue that China’s new approach to global governance, as embodied in the BRI, provides a way forward.
Qin and Wei first explain China’s model of global governance, which prioritizes “achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration” (共商共建共享; gongshang, gongjian, gongxiang). Under this principle, China advocates a global governance model that allows many parties to participate as equals and engage in democratic consultations. Such a model gives greater power to developing countries and contrasts with a hegemonic model. The Chinese model also advocates a more representative, forgiving, open, and fair system of governance that expands the number of participants, increases transparency, and allows developing countries to better voice their interests. Finally, this model promotes a “new form of international relations,” based on cooperative dialogue and egalitarian participation, and the pursuit of a “community of common destiny.” In 2019, the 19th National Congress of the CCP agreed to write this model into the Party Constitution; Qin and Wei’s description of the principle is in accordance with the official party stance.

Qin and Wei next illustrate how China’s BRI offers an example of this new model of global governance put into practice. The BRI includes a variety of actors who engage in a cooperative, consultative framework. It gives voice to developing states and eliminates long-standing Western bias. It also brings in a variety of actors, extending beyond states to include industry, social organizations, and individuals. Rather than focusing on treaties and regulations, BRI focuses pragmatically on instituting policies. Similarly, BRI allows for a more open and representative regional and global economic system by prioritizing the interests of developing countries. BRI does not have restrictive membership, so all can benefit from the public goods it provides. The objectives, processes, and outcomes are all transparent (this seems to be an overstatement; it is not always clear how China decides whether to fund an infrastructure project in another country, nor where the money comes from). Finally, BRI advances the objective of creating a community of common destiny, which it centers around sustainable development. BRI provides the basic security guarantees and shared objectives necessary to create such a community.

Qin and Wei conclude that the global governance deficit has occurred because the conceptualization and practice of governance have not kept pace with changes in global politics. Emerging and developing countries (like China) lack fair representation, which has undermined the entire global governance system. By advocating the adoption of China’s new model of global governance, as illustrated by the BRI, Qin and Wei combine China’s long-standing identity as the champion of the developing world with its more recent identity as a global great power that possesses the right to rewrite the rules of the international system.