After ending one of the most brutal fierce religious wars (the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648) between the ruling families of the European continent at the time, the Catholic Habsburgs, and the Habsburgs’ opponents who followed Protestantism, the Peace of Westphalia in the first half of the seventeenth century gave rise to the international order as we know it today. The establishment of the balance of power and the principle of national sovereignty of many European countries were among the most prominent principles of that reconciliation, as the space of chaos and conflicts deepened more than the space of stability at the time. Since the middle of the fourth decade of the twentieth century, the United States of America’s global leadership has been strengthened by the international order established by the “Allies” (the United States of America, the Soviet Union, China, Britain and France). Furthermore, with the escalation of rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States of America and the decline of other powers (Britain and France), chaos has become an inherent feature of the international order to the present day. In its most basic form, international order is a set of rules, procedures, and values that govern the nature of interactions and relations between states.
Given the rise of China, as one of the interactions and realities of this order, China’s peaceful rise has raised numerous questions about its model compared to the international liberal model that emerged following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United States of America, with its faltering leadership of the international liberal model, such as the global financial crisis of 2008, is a watershed in its contemporary political history, characterized by a regressive global power ending with its behaviour in COVID-19, the Ukrainian war and the suffering of the American economy in general during all those crises. In contrast, China’s rise as the world’s second most robust economy in 2010 so far, with the prospect of becoming the first in a few years, has raised questions about the Chinese system politically and economically and the future of democracy as a unique system of government for the international liberal model that many countries currently lack, particularly in China itself and Middle East region.
Given the superiority of the Chinese model in dealing with and managing many international crises in the international political arena, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic and health assistance in what has been known as “Mask Diplomacy”. Unlike the U.S, as the leader of global liberalism after the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991, Joseph Nye argued that it was the “American moment”, and Frances Fokayama said it was “The end of history”. Fukuyama saw capitalist democracy as the ultimate model of human ideological development.
Thus, it represents the end of history; he did not realize that this ideological proposition also did not stem from profound visions and extrapolations in history, formulas and human models and that he would probably be surprised by what happened to the capitalist financial system in the United States. Nye considered the end of all human philosophies and ideas and that global economies are living their unfavourable tastes and impact on nations’ lives and stability. Most recently, the financial crisis that hit the West several years ago, and the accompanying phenomenon of populism, the rise of the right, the Chinese and Russian ascent and now the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue of climate change that has emerged as a crisis of new and urgent crises facing the liberal model. The international liberal model expanded after the Cold War and included many non-liberal states. However, only China’s rise melted economic and security concerns about the consequences of allowing a liberal state to flourish within the system. Continued liberalism and China’s growing military and economic power have helped to question the adequacy of existing institutions, from the World Health Organization to the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.
The features of Chinese Communist Party rule run counter to many of the fundamental principles of the liberal model but may coexist with the return of both Chinese and liberal growth to the Westphalia principles. This can be demonstrated by the policies of the Chinese Communist Party, which has spent no great energy to defeat these liberal principles internationally only when it threatens its survival and sovereignty at the local level. China has benefited from participating in the global liberal system and remains a strong advocate of the Western order on which it was built. Indeed, the Chinese regime has at times seemed more invested in maintaining existing arrangements than the United States, hence the irony of Xi Jinping’s defence of free trade in Davos and cooperation with the World Health Organization to help the majority of the world’s nations combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chinese Communist Party has also acted strategically, investing in reshaping or rejecting international arrangements on various issues central to its domestic rule. It has been more willing to ride free or comply with international practices on more marginal issues. The domestic social purpose of china’s political system does not require destroying the existing international order, although it prefers a more conservative version that emphasizes Western norms of sovereignty and non-interference. Within the Framework of the United Nations, for example, China has sought to change international human rights obligations to emphasize State sovereignty, oversee civil society and economic development, to be more in tune with the Asian value system in its response to the Western value system.
In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the imposition of a new world order shifting the international balance of power in America’s favour based on the military superiority of the country over others. This situation changed in the second decade of the twenty-first century as Russia’s military and economic weight increased, resulting in a new balance of power that made it impossible for a single pole to dominate and allowed for multipolarity in the international order. Moreover, restoring the pluralistic pattern of power balance has been happening worldwide for years. A “New International Order” will emerge only if a war involving the major powers ends in victory for some and defeat for others, with the victors reformulating the system’s institutions and values to reflect the new balance of power. Looking at the Chinese regime, we can see that it possesses the necessary mechanisms and elements to establish a new world order.