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Challenges and Responsibilities in Global Governance: China, Germany and the US

Zweites Deutsch-Chinesisches Forum an der Tongji Universität Shanghai

“Challenges and Responsibilities in Global Governance: China, Germany and the US“. This was the topic of an international conference within the framework of the 2nd German-Chinese Forum, which the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Shanghai held together with the German Research Center, Tongji University and the Center for Global Studies, University of Bonn on November 8th, 2014.

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In the first panel, Chinese, German and US experts of diplomacy and science dealt with current challenges for global security. The Ukraine war and the possibility of a resurgence of the East-West conflict are a threat to a peaceful future global world order.

Dr. Jackson JANES from the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at John Hopkins University in Washington made clear the importance of a functioning balance-of-power. He emphasized the fine line between promoting universal values on the one hand and the reality of the specific international environment on the other hand. Further he stressed that Germany, China and the United States are all in the same boat and therefore are supposed to act together by facing global challenges.

Professor Christian HACKE, professor emeritus of the Institute for Political Science at the University of Bonn, sketched the development in international relations by means of four years, that strongly defined the international system: 1979, 1989, 2001, 2014. The oil crisis in 1979; the end of the bipolar world order and a new period of globalization in 1989; the changing security architecture after the terrorist attacks in 2001; and the increasing importance of emerging countries mark structural breaks in designing global order.

MEI Zhaorong, the former Chinese ambassador to the GDR and FDR, referred in his comment to the fact that today no country is able to solve international problems alone. For him this means that everyone has to contribute to the shared interest of stability and peace.

In her speech, Dr. REN Lin pointed at the complexity of the international security order, which requires new order mechanisms, especially on the regional and inter-regional level.

Dr. Wolfgang RÖHR, former German consul general to Shanghai, underlined in his comment the conceptual difference between the age of globalization and the requirements for future global governance. We should look at the term global governance in a wider sense; the traditional nation-state governments are joined by non-governmental international organizations like think tanks, multinationals and media that influence decision-making.

The 2nd panel focused on new forms of global economic and financial architecture. One key element of the discussion was the relation between state and market.

For Professor JIANG Shixue, Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), “global governance” is not a closed theory, but rather a changed praxis of international relations. He pled for further cooperation between China and Germany in areas like G20, questions on the financial system, the ICT-sector and climate protection.

Dr. Mikko Huotari from the China think tank MERICS in Berlin presented thoughts on reforms of the international financial architecture, which would require a consideration of the different market economies of countries involved. Thereby, an intensive dialogue with Chinese policy-makers about reforms in the financial sector, which stressed the role of mid-sized powers, would be necessary.

Professor CUI Hongjian, Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), referred to the effects of free trade agreements (FTAs). According to Cui, China signed FTAs with 14 countries, the USA with 18 countries, making their efforts a crucial contribution to strong free trade in the world. Although China tries to adjust to the framework conditions and strengthened its foreign trade relations with Australia, South-Korea, and ASEAN, the country still is no “Game Changer”, as it is often referred to in the debate.

Energy, climate, and environmental issues were the focal point of the 3rd panel. The guiding question regarded the common, but differentiated responsibilities: to what extend are developed countries like the USA and Germany responsible and which measures need to be taken by emerging countries like China to address global environmental questions. The three introducing presentations dealt with the current energy strategies of Germany, the EU and the USA.

Although there are some deficits like far from implemented idea of the EU as an energy union, Dr. Jörn RICHERT, Mercator-IPC Fellow at the Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University Istanbul, evaluated the German energy transition as a strategic option to fulfill its international climate-political responsibilities and to become more and more independent from energy imports.

Patrick DOHERTY, Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University, introduced a New Grand Strategy, which was developed by his institute. In his comprehension, good governance, sound political institutions and a healthy economy enable a foreign policy that can actively help shaping global affairs. He thinks that the USA has a huge potential to use the ecological transformation of the industry as an economic growth engine. This would also strengthen the foreign policy of the USA and lead to a new global partnership with the major economic powers.

Mrs. Professor BO Yan, School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, addressed in her presentation the current situation in climate negotiations. She explained the principles of the EU, China, and the USA and which rules and frameworks each wish to achieve in a future climate treaty. Although having diverging interests – especially different views about the different responsibilities of developed and emerging countries – she is positive that at the end of the UN-climate negotiations 2015 in Paris a treaty will be signed.

In the following discussion, the participants stressed the common responsibility of countries to deal with the consequences of climate change and raised the question how different national strategies could be integrated into one global strategy. Setting the common responsibilities in the center would guarantee the most fruitful outcome.

The process will need determination and the awareness of common global “goods” to establish functioning systems on the global level. The most relevant sectors were identified as the areas security, energy and finance. In the process, the dominance of nation-states as actors is – as often – chance and obstacle alike. NGOs, civil society, the media and also the private sector, always play an important role in shaping global systems of ordering; however, they are still underrepresented. The forum and its outcome, however, made it clear that China, Germany and the USA can be the “Game Changers” in shaping a new global governance.

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Tim Wenniges


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