Ex-Slovenian leader: Last decade shows China’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances

Editor’s note: Over the past decade, the world has increasingly witnessed a trend of “East rises and West falls” in the spheres of economics, security, and power of discourse. Western countries, especially the United States, plagued by internal misfortunes, have sought the old way of passing the buck and causing trouble elsewhere to ease their own pressure. China, representative of emerging countries, offers new solutions to global problems. By advocating win-win development, facilitating consultation and reconciliation, and providing a balanced and effective security mechanism, China is striving to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

In this interview, Danilo Türk, former president of Slovenia, told Global Times (GT) reporter Lu Yuanzhi that over the past decade, China has shown, once again, its ability to adapt. to changing circumstances. He noted that the most impressive feature of the past decade is the Chinese people’s resilience and determination to strive for new levels of development.

GT: You have visited China several times. How do you see China’s changes over the past decade? What role did the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) play in it?

Turkish: The last decade has been very dynamic. For China, it was a decade of significant achievements such as eradicating extreme poverty and becoming one of the most technologically advanced powers with the opportunity to play a leading role in technology during of the next decade. In a historically short period, it has gone from being the “factory of the world” to being a technological leader and a source of new visions, such as the vision of a “new era of eco-civilization”.

At the same time, China has once again shown its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The concepts and practices of “dual circulation” and “common prosperity” demonstrate the capacity for adjustment. The Chinese people’s resilience and determination to strive for new levels of development are the most impressive characteristics for a foreign observer like me. Obviously, this requires strong leadership from CPC. It is impressive to hear the continued emphasis on the importance of innovation from President Xi Jinping and CPC. Indeed, innovation is the key to progress to new levels – not only in technology, but also in economics and socio-political development.

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GT: President Xi proposed the Global Security Initiative this year and the Global Development Initiative last year. What do you think of the importance of the Chinese solution for global governance?

Turkish: Each of these two initiatives provides an important conceptual framework for the future. Now they should be followed by more detailed projects. They can be numerous and quite varied. Allow me to offer two examples. In the field of economic and social development, new ways must be found to resolve the growing debt crisis affecting a large number of developing countries and, in parallel, new models of partnership between public and private creditors to strengthen the investment in the defense of global public interests. goods, in particular the global climate.

China is a major player in global finance. Institutions like the IMF and the World Bank will have to be given new mandates and groups like the Paris Club of creditors will have to be reformed. This type of task should be part of the implementation of the Global Development Initiative. Another major area is global action for the eradication of extreme poverty and for social improvement in general. The preparation of the World Summit on Social Development in 2025, proposed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, will be an opportunity to act in this regard.

The Global Security Initiative, on the other hand, should contribute to the revival of the global security system with the UN at its center. Currently, the world is heading towards a dangerous fragmentation of the global security landscape. Exclusive security arrangements such as NATO can be useful for global security, but only if they operate within a globally established balance of forces and in accordance with international law. International security cannot rely solely on exclusive clubs. Global security is indivisible. For world peace to be preserved, the United Nations – the only inclusive global organization must be given an appropriate role.

GT: Over the past decade, how has China influenced the world order? What contributions will China make in the future?

Turkish: China’s influence over the past decade has been considerable. China played an important role in overcoming the global financial crisis that started in 2007 and lasted for several years. In this situation, China’s role in the G20 was essential for success. China also played an important role in the preparation of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015 and in the consensus within the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals in the same year. These are some examples of China’s positive role in the world order.

The future is harder to predict. The world today is characterized by competition and confrontation rather than cooperation. China can make an essential contribution to the search for a better balance between competition, which should remain strong, and cooperation, which is necessary and must be strengthened. Today the world needs a pause – and serious steps towards an easing of tensions, a new generation of detente between the great powers. From the second half of the last century, we know that the period of relaxation allowed the most significant progress. Today’s leaders know well what detente requires. China, for its part, can help guide the political processes of the world towards a better and shared future for all.

GT: When Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with Slovenian President Borut Pahor in May to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, President Pahor said that as a member of the EU, Slovenia actively supported the strengthening of the EU-China. reports. But obviously, some voices in Europe are calling on the continent to decouple from China and join the United States in countering China. What do you think of such voices? Are you optimistic about the future of China-EU relations?

Turkish: Decoupling is an undesirable phenomenon. But it is also complex. There are serious analyzes suggesting that “coupling and decoupling” in economic cooperation has been going on for years and that the EU and China are doing both. But it is true that China and the EU need a good cooperation framework. The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, approved in principle at the end of 2020, is such a framework. Unfortunately, subsequent EU sanctions and Chinese retaliation put this agreement “on ice”. I believe that leaders on both sides should gradually reduce and eventually phase out measures that harm both sides and reinvigorate the agreement.

In the same spirit, I think it would be wise for the United States to decide to remove some of its tariffs imposed during Donald Trump’s “trade war against China”. In short, I cannot be optimistic at the moment. But I believe there are better ways to move forward. They include deep thinking now and effective confidence building in the near future. The reduction and eventual elimination of the restrictions imposed in recent years would be good confidence-building measures.

GT: Europe is hit by high inflation. What do you think that Europe is becoming a big victim of the Ukrainian crisis? In your opinion, what type of challenge is Europe facing?

Turkish: Signs of inflation were already visible towards the end of 2021, before the outbreak of the current phase of the armed conflict in Ukraine. While it is true that the war and the sanctions that followed have aggravated the situation, it would be inaccurate to say that inflation is a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis. Inflation is largely the result of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies needed to forestall the severe economic consequences that would otherwise follow the COVID-19 lockdowns. What is particularly troubling today is the fact that inflation is exacerbated by a cascade of crises – food, energy, public debt.

These crises affect the whole world. Europe is in a very sensitive situation. European countries have not experienced high inflation for more than a decade, in some cases for several decades. And the response from the European Central Bank came late. This creates problems beyond finance and economics. History has taught us that high inflation has corrosive effects on societies. It affects the social fabric and brings political instability. From now on, all European countries must do everything possible to control inflation and do it quickly. The European Union will have a major role to play. At the same time, a more effective way to resolve the Ukrainian crisis will have to be found.

GT: It was reported in June that you participated in the signing of an open letter urging the new Slovenian government to “take a sensible position on the war in Ukraine” that would lead Ukraine and Russia to engage in ” serious peace talks”. Why did you sign such an open letter? What kind of job do you think makes sense?

Turkish: The crucial question is how to stop the war. This will require a lot of realism and courage, that is to say “taking a sensible position”. At present, the devastation continues and no significant initiative to stop the war seems to exist. The European Union seems completely dominated by its practice of sanctions – an approach that can cause a lot of damage, including in particular for the EU, but does little to solve the crisis. Therefore, the current approach needs to be broadened and should include a vision of cessation of hostilities and subsequent peace talks. In his recent interviews, widely publicized in Europe, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger offered some ideas.

Moreover, the current sanctions-based approach reinforces the narrative that suggests an inevitable ideological struggle between “democracies and autocracies”, that is, between West and East. This should be a matter of grave concern. A “sense” policy should avoid the trap of paralyzing much-needed global cooperation through ideological confrontation. The world’s most urgent tasks, especially the tasks of safeguarding the global commons, require global cooperation, not global ideological confrontation.

This article was first published in the Global Times on August 14, 2022. The Global Times is an English-language Chinese tabloid under People’s Daily, an official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

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