China recently passed a new “foreign relations law” that aims to codify its foreign policy goals and methods of responding to Western-imposed sanctions and containment efforts. This law signifies a centralization of China’s foreign policy-making, as the country seeks to assert its role as a global power in the face of challenges from the United States.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has centralized its foreign policy-making in response to growing insecurity and attempts to contain its development and influence. This centralization has brought an end to years of decentralization that the West hoped would lead to an ideological transformation within China. The Communist Party has reasserted its control over the state, and China has sought to strengthen its legal system to promote the rule of law within society.
One of the key components of the new law is China’s commitment to building a multipolar international order, in contrast to the US-led unipolarity. China envisions a “democratic” multipolar world where states stand equally and work together, rather than one where a few powerful states exert excessive power over others. Beijing sees its vision of multipolarity as promoting global development, security, and civilization initiatives. It also calls for reform of the global governance system and the practice of multilateralism through mechanisms such as the United Nations and its own Belt and Road initiative.
The law also emphasizes China’s long-standing calls for respect for national sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, and a subjective interpretation of human rights based on a country’s own reality. China rejects the idea that Western notions of human rights should be universally imposed and regards them as creating a power disparity in favor of Western countries while disregarding the economic realities of the Global South and challenging China’s own development path.
The area of the law that has received the most attention from Western media is its call for countermeasures against those who impose sanctions or tariffs on China in violation of international law. However, the law clarifies that China’s use of countermeasures is defensive rather than offensive or coercive. China states that it will adhere to the rule of law in its response to Western sanctions and that its measures will not be random, indiscriminate, or illegal.
Overall, China’s new foreign relations law is an effort to consolidate and defend its position as a global power in the face of Western containment efforts. The law centralizes foreign policy-making, promotes a multipolar world, and sets clear boundaries for retaliating against Western sanctions. Despite attempts by the mainstream media to portray it as “economic coercion,” a closer analysis reveals China’s intentions and the true nature of its situation.