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Unpacking Han Zheng’s Messaging to the Global South at the UN General Assembly

China's Vice President Han Zheng addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2023. Ed JONES / AFP

China’s Vice President Han Zheng addressed the UN General Assembly on Thursday. Along with retreads of established Chinese positions on Taiwan, Ukraine, and the Israel/Palestine conflict, his comments also provided interesting clues about China’s messaging to the Global South.

First, he called on the international community to “follow the direction of a multipolar world” with the UN at its center. I wonder how opinion within Beijing’s inner circles breaks down around the bipolarity/multipolarity issue, considering that the U.S. and China currently seem united by a tunnel-vision fixation on their bipolar horse race. This tendency leads to the shoehorning of many complex multipolar issues from South China Sea governance to the future of AI into a simplistic bipolar frame.

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