Strategic Foresight


Harmony with diversity: China's preferred world order

22 Aug 2013 - 11:50


The Chinese government says that it supports the notion of international diversity of political-economic systems. This should not be regarded as mere propaganda.

Apart from a brief period during the Cultural Revolution, China never was interested in exporting its ideology or in trying to turn other countries in a replication of itself. It is unlikely that China will change its attitude in this regard, even as it emerges as a new superpower.

On the contrary: as it becomes more influential at the multilateral level, it is likely that China will promote political-economic diversity as a major norm in international relations. This would limit the ability of the West to promote liberal democracy and economic liberalism through multilateral institutions, and perhaps even bilaterally.

One of the effects of this process would be that the competitive advantage of Chinese companies in developing countries increases vis-à-vis Western firms. This would accelerate the power shift in the developing world towards China from the West.


This article was published as 'Harmony with diversity: China's preferred world order and weakening Western influence in the developing world' in Global Policy 4/1 (LSE/Wiley February 2013) pp.53-62.

A shortened and edited Chinese translation of this article was published with Shao Guangxue as 中国的多样性战略与国际新秩序 in 国外社会科学 (Social Sciences Abroad) 301/1 (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences January 2014) pp.95-99.