Observer: Seeking peace and development amidst turbulent times
By Zhu Feng
People's Daily app

The international situation has become increasingly complex and severe since the Cold War ended. It is evident that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has become a protracted struggle. Despite a high budget deficit, US President Joe Biden's administration is demanding Congress allocate $75.7 billion for military assistance to support Ukraine and Israel continuously. Meanwhile, the world is grappling with climate change, with global temperatures reaching record highs in September. Anxiety and frustration are widespread. However, the pursuit of peace and development remains the prevailing theme of our times. The abovementioned obstacles cannot impede the historical trend of worldwide peace, development and cooperation.

We find ourselves in a new international situation characterized by turbulence and revolution. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union disintegrated, leading to the collapse of the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as the rapid dissolution of the divisions caused by their differing ideologies. Following the Cold War, globalization swept across the world. Three decades of globalization have witnessed the rapid accumulation of global wealth and a continuous decline in poverty from 1991 to 2021. However, during this period, there has been no change in the US-led unipolar system of international power distribution. The close interest links between the US and Western countries in their political systems, commercial relations and capital markets have remained unchanged. The US-led Western military alliance system persists, and the developed countries of the Global North continue to dominate.

Since the first Industrial Revolution and the rise of emerging economies, particularly China, in the 1990s, there has been an unprecedented shift in the distribution of international power. We can describe this shift as "the rise of the East and the decline of the West." However, the distribution of global power still maintains a "West stronger, East weaker" dynamic. There is a growing call for greater cooperation among the Global South. When power is unevenly distributed in the international system, and hegemonic countries lack adequate checks and balances, it inevitably leads to the abuse of power. This is why the US, from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden, has consistently regarded China as the most prominent strategic competitor of the 21st century, triggering a comprehensive attack on China encompassing scientific, market, trade and ideological fronts. Hegemonic interests and policy needs have driven these actions.

The dominance of the US and Western countries, along with their diplomacy centered on preaching Western values such as human rights and freedom, cannot bring stability, peace, and prosperity to the world. In practice, they often prioritize their own interests, exhibit a double standard on global governance, regional affairs, and conflicts, and prompt self-centeredness. The inherent tension and fragility of a unipolar hegemonic system constantly surface. When the Obama administration came to power in 2009, it insisted on supporting the two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It openly opposed Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestine. However, the Trump administration completely reversed this stance, threatening the living space of the Palestinian people.

From a historical perspective, the protracted Russian-Ukrainian conflict can also be attributed to the lack of balance in a unipolar hegemonic system, particularly among major powers in international relations. Despite the ongoing conflict, humanitarian disasters, and military and civilian casualties, the Biden administration continues to provide weapons to Ukraine, along with European countries, to sustain a grim proxy war. Such behavior not only intensifies the confrontation between major powers on the political stage but also increases the risk of a direct US-Russia military confrontation in the future or even a localized nuclear war.

On October 28, the Hamas launched a ground offensive against Gaza. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict may once again escalate into a multinational war in the Middle East. Behind this conflict lie long-standing ethnic, religious and geographical tensions, which provoke deep divisions in public opinion and political antagonism across the globe. Rising oil prices and energy crises are becoming unavoidable. According to relevant institutions, the world's demand for oil, gas and coal will peak in 2030.

Despite the increasing turbulence in the world, the strong desire for cooperation, security and peace in the international community persists. We currently find ourselves at another crossroad in China-US relations. We are also confronted with the dangerous uncertainties brought about by the prolonged Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the resurgent war in the Middle East. Under these circumstances, the need for peace, cooperation and the protection of human rights, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, remains unchanged. The pursuit of harmony in world politics in the 21st century, opposing unacceptable rivalries, remains a constant. As a rising power, China has promoted global security and development, as well as the progress of human civilization, by establishing a community for a shared future for humanity. This wisdom and strength provided by China also remain unchanged.

Although there has been no structural change in Biden's China policy, there has been close dialogue and communication at the senior level between the two countries. This fully illustrates that, in the face of international turmoil, the US cannot ignore China's repeated heartfelt suggestions regarding China-US relations, nor can it ignore China's emphasis on the responsibilities and commitments of a significant power.

China today is more closely connected to the world than ever before, and the world has gained a better understanding of China. China's peaceful development will undoubtedly continue, and China will continue to promote global peace, cooperation and development.

(The author is the executive dean of the School of International Relations, Nanjing University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the People's Daily. Translated by He Chen and Lin Rui)