When Xi Jinping, China’s leader, delivered an “important speech” at the UN in September 2021, it appeared to be little more than a list of feelgood clichés. He said that the world needed “harmony between man and nature” and added that economic development should bring “benefits for all”.
So short on specifics was his address that the international media mostly ignored it. Through subsequent elaborations, however, that speech has taken on a crucial significance. This is because Xi used it to propose a new scheme called the Global Development Initiative, which is now gaining recognition as a foundation stone in China’s blueprint for an alternative world order to challenge that of the US-led west.