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Global South without China is a misnomer

By Imran Khalid | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-07 09:08
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The term Global South has recently gained attention as a concept that encompasses developing countries as well as those previously referred to as emerging markets. This embrace extends to nations of significant economic prowess like China, India and Brazil, among others.

Yet amid this semantic evolution, an intriguing quandary arises. The United States from time to time casts doubt upon whether China truly deserves a place among the ranks of developed nations, thus teasing the idea that it may not be a bona fide member of the Global South. Behind this pondering lies a tapestry of motivations propelling the US to consider designating China as a "developed" nation.

But the fact is that China is an integral part of the Global South, and actively supports the interests of developing nations in various aspects. Although the notion of the Global South remains fraught with ambiguity in the present context, the US attempt to exclude China from this club is a questionable proposition.

The emergence and rise of China as a global power has challenged conventional geopolitical narratives and reshaped the contours of international relations, illustrating the ever-shifting contours of global collaboration. In the contemporary era, dialogues regarding the Global South paradigm have surged to the forefront.

The idea of the Global South originated in the colonial era to emphasize economic and developmental disparities between so-called "developed" and "developing "nations. In the past, this categorization was used to differentiate between the countries in the Global North and the less-developed nations in the Global South.

However, there has been a shift in economic power dynamics, and China has played a crucial role in this transformation.

China's rise as an economic powerhouse is a phenomenon that cannot be overstated. With its manufacturing sector, advancements and a rapidly growing middle-income group, the nation has emerged as a leader on the global economic stage.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a demonstration of China's commitment to developing infrastructure and fostering connectivity across the Global South. The initiative has benefited countries by boosting trade, investment and overall economic growth. Therefore, excluding China from discussions about the Global South seems to be an utterly absurd insinuation.

Given China's manufacturing strength, infrastructure initiatives and extensive trade partnerships with other developing nations, it is undeniable that the country holds substantial influence within the Global South.

Interestingly, the term Global South has sparked interpretations and debates in recent years. It has often been manipulated to serve global powers' interests, particularly those of the US, while attempting to exclude China from its rightful place among developing nations.

One vantage point regards the term Global South as a conceptual framework that elucidates the multifaceted impact of globalization on developing nations. Another viewpoint considers it as a symbol of resistance exhibited by countries in "the South" against the pervasive influence of "the North". This inherent ambiguity and speculative character contribute to a terrain defined by a multitude of opinions. During former US president Donald Trump's time in office, the US promoted the idea that China is not a developing country — a narrative intended to downplay China's role in cooperation among nations of the Global South.

The motive behind the efforts by the US and the G7 to sideline China within the Global South narrative is multifaceted. It reflects a geopolitical agenda aimed at restraining China's ascent on the global stage. By labeling China as a developed country, the US and its allies seek to limit China's access to certain international benefits and opportunities. It perpetuates an imbalance in power dynamics, maintaining the North-South divide and preserving Western dominance.

However, one thing is clear: The US and the G7 have used this ambiguity for their selfish interests. In its endeavor to exclude China from the fraternity of developing nations, the US seems to be engaging in a strategic gambit that overlooks the shifting dynamics within the global order.

It is important to challenge these tactics and strive for a fairer global conversation. Recognizing China's place within the Global South and acknowledging its valuable contributions to international cooperation is not merely a matter of fairness; it is also a critical step toward forging a world order that is more inclusive and conducive to peace.

At the same time, the US has been actively pursuing a strategy to elevate India's stature within the Global South, propelled by a constellation of motives. The US perceives India as an important partner in counterbalancing China's influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. As such, Washington has strategically positioned itself to support India's ascent within the Global South framework and sought to drive a wedge between China and India, hoping to weaken the ties between these two Asian powers.

It is essential to remember that international status is ultimately determined by the consensus of the global community. China's role in the Global South is well-established and recognized by the majority of nations. Instead of exclusionary tactics, the guiding principle in addressing global challenges and building a more equitable world order should be the fostering of cooperation among all developing nations, including both China and India.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

The author is an international affairs commentator and freelancer based in Karachi, Pakistan.

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