‘Rules-based international order’ is rhetorical tool for US

It’s not hard to notice in recent years that some US politicians cannot stop talking about “rules-based international order” when it comes to China, while styling Uncle Sam as the ultimate defender of international fairness and justice. However, US actions suggest otherwise. The benign-sounding name is simply a disguise of the United States to split the world and subdue others, and the cunning trick could deceive no one.

The United States uses international law in a selective way. The world has long come to a conclusion about the principal tenets of the “international order”. As China stressed, there is only one international system, i.e., the international system with the United Nations at its core; there is only one international order, i.e., the international order underpinned by international law; and there is only one set of rules, i.e., the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

However, the United States, as a founding member of the United Nations, is chipping away at the global system and rules that it previously helped to build, and is practicing double-standards and exceptionalism to prolong its hegemony.

For example, on the maritime issue, the United States on the one hand refuses to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but on the other hand accuses China of breaching the convention. On World Trade Organization rulings, the United States applauds the result if it wins the case, but when it loses, it asserts that the WTO is not qualified to make a judgment and refuses to enforce the verdict.

For the United States, international law is just a convenient tool to counter the rise of others, and it has no interest in undertaking duties arising therefrom. It sometimes goes even further to take the law into its own hands, and tries to make its “gang rules” globally binding.

The United States wantonly tramples on international rules. The United States has been militaristic for many years. From Vietnam and Grenada to Iraq and Syria, the US has caused grievous civilian casualties and property losses, contravening the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Its military attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship that drifted into US airspace earlier this year is another example of its violation of international rules — the “no use of force” principle of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Under the pretension of its domestic law, the United States has imposed far too many unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdictions at its will, increasing the distress on others and impeding humanitarian relief efforts. The slowed aid delivery to quake-hit Syria by US sanctions last month is a case in point.

The United States has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child just because the definition of minors in the convention differs from that in its own law. That’s why today we see that a country that claims to protect human rights is also home to a large number of prematurely married minors. 

The United States also disregards its global responsibilities and disrupts the global governance system by walking away from international treaties and organizations, treating global rules like nothing.

Given such a track record, it’s not surprising that more countries questioned the credibility of “rules-based international order” that the United States brags about.

The United States resorts to coercion for continued hegemony. The US’ China policy smears China as a “destroyer of rules and order” and tries to force China to behave based on America’s “rules-based international order”. But in reality, the United States only makes the world more divisive and less peaceful by drawing lines and engaging in coercive diplomacy. As Professor Xiang Lanxin of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva put it, US talk of defending the “rules-based order” is fooling no one, and its order is not supported by a significant portion of the world’s population.

China, as the first signatory to the UN Charter, has always firmly upheld the purposes and principles of the charter, the international system with the UN as the core, and the international order underpinned by international law. 

We take an active part in multilateral affairs. To date, we have joined almost all intergovernmental international organizations and more than 600 international conventions, and concluded 27,000-plus bilateral treaties. At the same time, we implement international rules with the utmost sincerity. Unlike the United States, we never see WTO rulings not favorable to China as pieces of waste paper.

History has proved time and again that the crux of many global issues is not the shortness of rules, but that countries like the United States overstep rules and create “gang rules”. People all over the world are aware of who challenges international order and who defends it. The practice of pursuing power politics will win no support.

China always believes in the power of multilateralism, unity and cooperation. We will continue to work with others to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make global governance of our world more fair and equitable for all.

The author is commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.