A recent issue of Newsweek hailed the President of China Xi Jinping as a citizen of the world and highlighted his 17 January 2017 speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as setting forth a new global policy. At a time when the President of the United States is putting his “America First” policy into practice, and the President of the Russian Federation is striving to make Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church “great again”, it is China that is providing great power leadership toward a cosmopolitan, humanistic, world society.
At Davos, Xi Jinping stressed that globalization had produced “powerful global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilization and interaction among people.” He noted the China-led creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. He ended by saying that “the people of all countries expect nothing less (than to make globalization work) and this is our unshrinkable responsibility as leaders of our times.”
It is true that globalization – the world as an open market – has worked well for China’s export-led economy and for its foreign infrastructure development efforts – the One Belt-One Road project of rail, roads and sea ports. However Xi Jinping also mentioned civilization and interaction among people as one of the outcomes of globalization, perhaps thinking of the large number of student exchanges and the impact of Chinese culture through the increasing number of Confucius Institutes throughout the world.
Xi Jinping stressed the need for ecologically-sound development and meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Conference – the protection of Nature being high on the list of world citizen priorities.
It is certain that in addition to setting a broadly positive global policy, there are real internal challenges to meeting the world citizen values of equality and respect for the dignity of each person.
As fellow citizens of the world, we are heartened by the advances of the rule of world law, of equality between women and men, by efforts of solidarity to overcome poverty and hunger. We look to Chinese leadership to strengthen the forces which advance a cosmopolitan, humanist world society based on wholeness, harmony and creativity.
Rene Wadlow, President, and a Representative to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens