In 2021, the Chinese president Xi Jinping announced a “Global Development Initiative” (GDI), an investment plan ostensibly aimed to help countries meet sustainability goals laid out by the UN. A year later, Beijing announced its “Global Security Initiative” (GSI), a parallel diplomatic plan whose signature achievement (thus far) is the Saudi-Iranian deal concluded in March. The Communist country then added its “Global Civilizational Initiative” (GCI), meant to spread its values through soft power. Tuvia Gering, assesses these grand plans, and what they mean for the Jewish state:
Xi Jinping invited Israel to “take an active part in the GDI” in a conversation with President Isaac Herzog in November 2021. Jerusalem has yet to respond or to take an official stance on the three initiatives. But if it does—or if senior Israeli officials publicly support it—they will join the company of anti-liberal nations who have embraced it, giving China a propaganda win. If Israel joins and is later forced to withdraw, its relations with Beijing will suffer.
At the same time, outright opposition to the initiatives will be perceived as too confrontational. Therefore, Israel’s interest is not to join the GDI or express blanket support for it, but rather to continue project-by-project cooperation with China on development while balancing economic, foreign policy, and security considerations.
The GSI, in contrast, is intended to undermine U.S.-led security frameworks. In the Middle East, it may jeopardize the progress of the Abraham Accords and the I2U2 (a grouping launched in 2022 comprising Israel, the U.S., India, and the United Arab Emirates). Furthermore, given that Beijing is dogmatically biased in favor of the Palestinians and provides Iran with an economic lifeline, international legitimacy, and technological solutions to ensure the regime’s survival, support for the GSI goes against Israel’s strategic interests.
The GSI’s stated support for the UN Charter is a smokescreen for China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most egregious violation of the charter, which Beijing and Moscow justify as a response to “NATO expansionism.” Similarly, the good intentions that pave China’s road to “inter-civilizational dialogue and cooperation” under the GCI erode [the] values that underpin human rights, dignity, and freedom from oppression.