Beijing Lays Out New World Order after Russia-Ukraine War

The Russia-Ukraine war is ostensibly a regional war within Europe, but from the perspective of the strategic triangle that influences the international layout, namely China, the United States and Russia, all three sides are dissatisfied with the post-Cold War world landscape and wish to change it.

The United States is the only hegemonic power of the post-Cold War era, although in recent years there have been signs of a loosening of that hegemony, along with hopes of consolidating it again. Ukraine represents an opportune time to quietly go about making arrangements: Russia knows that Ukraine is a trap but is nonetheless rushing headlong into it, seemingly tempting fate, yet with an ace up its sleeve; Beijing is forging ahead on its own path, making frequent diplomatic moves and actively embarking on a new round of global planning; and Taiwan needs to be rational, attentive, and cautious.

Influence through the Economy

In a recent Business Roundtable speech in the United States, President Joe Biden asserted that the world is “at an inflection point,” and that the United States would lead other countries in the establishment of “a new world order,” something that former President George W. Bush spoke of, at the conclusion of the Cold War. More than 30 years later, Biden’s renewed talk of a new world order displays the same bravura it did then, but it is short on substance.

What Biden is calling for is not a new order, but past glory –- a former glory that has long been undermined by Donald Trump’s “America First” and his right-wing followers. He is desperate to rebuild his credibility at a time when Russia is attacking Ukraine, and the European Union is so frightened that it has no alternative but to close ranks with the United States. Weakening Russia, incorporating Europe, raising the banner of “democracy versus autocracy,” and the global redefining of the lines between ourselves and our enemies, ushering in a new Cold War of deglobalization and de-Sinicization: This is Biden’s new world order.

Over the years, Vladimir Putin has worked to consolidate the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ sphere of influence, from the 2008 war with Georgia to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the tightening of its hold over Belarus and Central Asia, and now, its invasion of Ukraine. Many now see Putin as more revanchist than the Chinese revisionist state.

However, the joint statement issued with President Xi Jinping in early February shows that Putin is equally dissatisfied with the post-Cold War, U.S.-dominated world order; that he believes Russia should have a greater voice; and that Russia can only achieve this by using its fists. As long as the war serves its purpose of stopping NATO’s eastward expansion and extending Russia’s sphere of influence to Ukraine without doing itself excessive damage and miring itself in a drawn-out war, Russia will have more capital with which to become a major player in determining the international landscape.

The change in the international order can be gleaned from the reaction of the world to the sanctions against Russia. Apart from traditional Western allies, most non-Western countries have not followed the United States, particularly emerging or regional powers such as India, Turkey, South Africa or Brazil. Russia’s challenge to the post-Cold War international order has therefore brought on a relaxation of U.S. hegemony and a reorganization of the world’s geopolitical power structure, presenting China with its second “period of strategic opportunity” this century. For China, the new world order it seeks is the establishment of an international political and economic environment that is conducive to the revival and peaceful development of the Chinese nation. In completing the construction of a new world order, China neither believes in nor uses its fists, but would rather exert influence through economic cooperation and commercial exchange.

A Loosening of U.S. Dollar Hegemony

As a result, the relationship between Russia and China will become even stronger, especially as comrades-in-arms in the fight against the United States’ containment of them. The trajectory of their alliance will not change, and the global pattern it creates will become the cornerstone of a new world order that will affect the geopolitics of Central Asia and the Middle East, and extend to South Asia, Southeast Asia and even Eastern Europe. Latin America, South America and the Pacific, formerly considered the United States’ exclusive domain, will also look to benefit from a relaxation of U.S. hegemony.

Dollar hegemony will begin to loosen: The strict and aggressive financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S.-led West are undoubtedly causing the Russian economy to decline, but have also become the gravediggers to dollar dominance in the process. In recent years, the United States has frequently resorted to financial means and long-arm jurisdiction to sanction other countries and private individuals, and many countries that could potentially come into conflict with the United States have begun to establish independent financial trading systems. The current U.S. sanctions against Russia have accelerated some countries’ flight from dollar-dominated international financial transactions; the establishment of a renminbi oil trading mechanism between Saudi Arabia and China is an important indicator of this. Russia, as a major energy exporter, is putting its energy resources to use as a hard currency, requiring unfriendly countries to pay for oil and gas in rubles, thereby thwarting the West. All of this is creating favorable conditions for the internationalization of the renminbi.

By understanding the changes taking place in international politics and economics, we can identify Beijing’s arrangements for a new world order. Recently, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has visited or met with the foreign ministers of several countries, such as Russia, India, five Central Asian republics and six countries in the Middle East; the foreign ministers of the ASEAN nations of Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar have visited China; and Xi and Premier Li Keqiang have held a video summit with the EU, with Xi potentially visiting Saudi Arabia in May. All of this demonstrates that the world order is changing. Is Taiwan ready for it?

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About Matthew McKay 110 Articles
Matthew is a British citizen who grew up and is based in Switzerland. He received his honors degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford and, after 15 years in the private sector, went on to earn an MA in Chinese Languages, Literature and Civilization from the University of Geneva. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and an associate of both the UK's Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the Swiss Association of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting. Apart from Switzerland, he has lived in the UK, Taiwan and Germany, and his translation specialties include arts & culture, international cooperation, and neurodivergence.

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