The PLA guard of honor escorts the flag of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the national flag, and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) flag during the parade. Photo: He Zhuoqian/GT
As the year 2019 comes to an end and the new year is around the corner, many countries and regions around the globe are still suffering from political unrest, sectarian conflict, violent protests and even civil wars. In 2020, more unpredictable incidents will happen or are likely to happen, including the upcoming Brexit, proxy war in Libya, uncertain Korean Peninsula situation and the intensive US presidential election.
Rising protectionism and unilateralism, especially in the US, also add more uncertainties and challenges to those global challenges shared by members of the international community such as climate change, terrorism, nuclear-proliferation and the sluggish world economy, said Chinese observers.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on December 23 that "today's world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. The more complicated the situation is, the more we need to maintain strategic resolve and adopt a forward-looking vision that takes the overall situation into consideration."
Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University of China's school of international studies in Beijing, told the Global Times that President Xi's remark that "the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century" is an assessment that can objectively reflect the current international situation and this assessment could mean China might actively participate in shaping the current world order and reforming globalization system.
Leaders from the G7 group of countries and the European Council attend a working session on international economy and trade and the international security agenda in Biarritz, southwestern France on Sunday, the second day of the annual G7 Summit. Photo: AFP
"When I talked to US scholars, I frequently heard them saying: The only thing that is certain is uncertain," Jin said.
"So they share Chinese scholars' feeling over the world situation, but they are more nervous and pessimistic as they found the influence of neo-liberalism that used to guide and lead globalization is declining."
China and the US are likely to reach a trade deal to stop the trade war next year, but Chinese experts warned that US President Donald Trump could be more unpredictable during the presidential election season and even if a deal can be reached, it is hard to be too optimistic as the current US government might not keep its word.
A less confident US, which is also facing more domestic pressure, could be more unpredictable, Chinese observers noted. Apart from the trade, the US might exert more pressure on China over Taiwan question and Hong Kong situation, for which China needs to prepare in 2020.
Among major Western powers, the US is not the only one shadowed in great uncertainty. The UK is likely to finish Brexit in 2020, but Scotland and Northern Ireland could have weakening ties with the UK and even seek independence, the Financial Times reported on October 31.
A massive strike in France is continually hurting the country's economy and French President Emmanuel Macron is facing serious pressure domestically.
Zheng Ruolin, a senior Chinese media professional and European studies expert based in France, said that not only France, the whole of Europe including countries like Germany, Spain and Italy will also face similar challenges as the traditional democratic system in Europe is unable to solve their problems.
Radical political parties will gain more support and the integration and unity of the EU is in danger, Zheng noted. Problems like immigration and economic decline will hit the continent, he said.
Germany is dealing with China and Russia in a more pragmatic and independent approach on issues like Huawei 5G and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project despite pressure from the US.
Experts noted that as most European countries are mired in various difficulties, they need stable ties with China and their attitudes will be more pragmatic next year.
Formations featuring a giant national flag and the emblem of the People's Republic of China (PRC) take part in a mass pageantry celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the PRC in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua)
China is facing challenges and difficulties just like other major powers in the world, but China is also going to realize more historic goals next year, ensuring its economic development as well as instilling stability into the region and the world, experts noted.
"China has actually faced extremely serious challenges externally and internally in 2019," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, told the Global Times.
"Internationally, we have a trade war with the US. Domestically, we have the months-long Hong Kong turmoil, but the country has maintained the stability successfully."
The most important reason is "the leadership of the CPC," Bai said, "so we can ensure the stability of the country and effectively deal with pressures from the US."
The CPC's leadership is a "unique advantage of China" and will continue to safeguard China's development in 2020, he said.
China's year-end tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference painted a clear picture of the challenges, prioritized economic stability and pledged a stronger policy repertoire toward completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2020 and beyond, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The successful launch on Friday of Long March 5, China's largest carrier rocket, has laid a solid basis for China to conduct more significant space explorations, including sending a probe to Mars in 2020.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology set a major goal for 2020 on December 23, saying that China aims to offer 5G service in every prefecture-level city by the end of next year.
These are of significance not only to China but also to the world, Bai noted. "Members of the international community understand that cooperation with China is reliable and beneficial," Bai said. "China has the opportunity, confidence and market to offer and to open to anyone."
Cooperation doesn't necessarily bring mutual trust, he noted.
"For instance, China and the US economy are actually interdependent, but the deeper we cooperate, the more desperate the US wants to contain China. This is strange but we have no choice but to be prepared for it."
For countries in Asia, most are enjoying peace and those who used to have a hostile relationship with China will also try in 2020 to rebuild their ties with Beijing as they don't want to be excluded from the most important source of certainty of the world: the development of China.
Japan, for example, made significant change and tried to fix its ties with China. According to Xinhua, Abe said when Xi met him in Beijing that the "Japanese side looks forward to President Xi's state visit to Japan in the spring next year and attaches great importance to the visit."
Japan is also a victim of US protectionism and unilateralism, said Chinese experts. It is natural for Tokyo to re-consider its position between China and the US. To stand closer with China would be wise as China has more certainty than the US, they argued.
India, another major power in Asia, is now struggling to deal with mass protests and unrest, while witnessing- worsening ties with its neighbor Pakistan.
Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the institute of international relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that India's economy will be impacted for sure and the effects will continue to next year.
If the unrest and conflict continue, it is possible to see an economic crisis in the country to which China should pay attention, as China has investments and cooperation projects in the country.
The Korean Peninsula is another region of huge uncertainty. Although the leaders of the US and North Korea met twice in 2019 in Vietnam and the DMZ between the two Koreas, the peace process is now in a deadlock.
China's participation and mediation in the peace process of Korean Peninsula is the key to safeguarding the peace of the region and also a reason why provocations between Pyongyang and Washington didn't escalate, experts believed. China will keep playing this role in 2020, they said.