Essay on Analysis of President Xi Jinping’s Speech During the UN’s 75th Anniversary Using the Realism, Liberalism Theories and Constructivist Interpretation

Published: 2021/11/04
Number of words: 2043

The Chinese President Xi Jinping in the 75th anniversary of the United Nations gave a speech to commemorate the 75 years since the world has victoriously won the fight against fascism through the acquisition of justice for the people. Furthermore, the speech also addressed the current Covid-19 pandemic and the major changes that the world has had to undergo while facing the crisis. He acknowledged the economic and social effects that the pandemic as hard on the different countries in the world. In the speech, President Xi also warned governments against the politicization of the pandemic and proposes that there should be a global effort to fight the crisis and restore the earth to its former, or better condition. Other issues addressed by President Xi Jinping include environmental pollution, global warming, and poverty. He insists that there should be a global effort to control and suppress these issues to create sustainable development and protect Mother Nature. President Xi Jinping encouraged global political cooperation by adding that it will promote development expansion and prevent hegemony. President Xi Jinping’s, speech is diverse and illustrates both realist and liberal characteristics. This paper aims to analyze the liberal and realist aspects of President Xi Jinping’s speech, as well as to identify the areas in which they differ from each other. This paper will also analyze the statement from a constructivist point of view.

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Political realism refers to a nation’s approach to international politics through capitalism, self-preservation, and accumulation of power for one’s country. It is characterized by the desire to accumulate more power than other nations and the development of strategies to maintain that state of power (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 58). The speech delivered by President Xi Jinping proves to be a realist one when he points out the contributions that China has made towards winning the war against fascism and by mentioning the rapidly developing state of China as a country and the significant steps it has made towards economic development and growth (Xi, 2020). This section of the statement can be analyzed as a realist by looking at the six principles of international realism illustrated by Hans Morgenthau. The first principle discussed by Morgenthau concerning political realism is that politics has its roots in human nature and, therefore, like any society is governed by objectives and laws that have their roots in human nature (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 57). This means that realism develops a realistic path to the possibilities of development by creating rational theories. This can be seen in President Xi Jinping when he insists that the way to combat the current Covid-19 pandemic should be heavily reliant on science and not speculation. He believes that this is the shortest way to develop policies and strategies that can combat the pandemic and ensure sustainable development. The second principle states that political realism is defined by setting a landscape of international politics through the concept of interests. He argues that politics without interest, such as economics, ethics, aesthetics, and religion, is almost invalid (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 57). President Xi Jinping fulfils this principle when he incorporates economic, political, and environmental issues in his speech when speaking about sustainable development. The third principle states that realism assumes interests defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid for all political nations (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 58). President Xi Jinping’s speech insists on this assumption when he announces China’s interest in promoting environmental health and conservation. The fourth principle states that political realism considers the moral impact of its political actions and interest (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 58). In his speech, the Chinese President insists that China is in no way interested in pursuing hegemony, expansion, or spheres of influence (Xi, 2020). By this statement, president Xi Jinping acknowledges that there is a moral dimension of pursuing political greatness and power against all other nations. The fifth principle states that political realism refuses to identify the moral inspiration of a particular nation by distinguishing between truth and opinion (Morgenthau, 2000, p. 58). This can be seen in President Xi Jinping when he sets the distinction between the fact that he actually does not have the correct answers to combating the Covid-19 pandemic but is only inclined to offer suggestions that may help to combat the global challenge of covid-19 (Xi, 2020). The sixth principle states that political realism maintains the autonomy of politics to the political sphere as the economists the moralist maintain to their spheres. President Xi does this by mostly focusing his statement on the UN and its political action in handling international relations between China and other nations in cooperation to challenge the pandemic (Xi, 2020). By doing so, President Xi Jinping ensures that he addresses the UN as a political unit and not as any other.

One of the major ways that president Xi’s speech portrays liberal characteristics is through his concern for international cooperation. According to Doiyle (1986), the politics of liberalism is founded upon individual rights and equality as well as cooperation between States. This can be seen in President Xi’s speech when he calls for mutual respect and equality among all countries with the aim of jointly sharing the fruits of development in the future and discouraging unilateralism and hegemony (Xi, 2020). Here, president Xi is seen to individualize each country by insisting that they are equal and proving to be very liberal when he insists of a balanced and joint interest towards development. Another way in which President Xi Jinping’s speech proves to be liberal is when he encourages democracy and international peace. Doiyle (1986, p74), points out that liberal pacifism relies on modern imperialism which focuses on economic growth and democracy, which are major forces for peace. At the end of his speech, President Xi Jinping calls for multilateralism to safeguard the international system. He also puts forth that there should be extensive consultation, cooperation, and shared benefits for all countries to have equal opportunities, rights, and enjoy the same rules. Xi Jinping argues that a global governance system will help to combat global challenges and embrace peace (Xi, 2020). Another way that Xi Jinping speech is liberal is seen in the way that he encourages liberal internationalism. According to Kant (1795), one of the liberal internationalism principles states that “…no state shall interfere with the constitution or government of another”. This means that governments can independently cooperate without the risk of interference of their constitution, such as through colonialism or anarchy p. 2. President Xi Jinping illustrates this when he encourages multilateralism that is safeguarded by the international systems. He points out that it is good for countries to take up their public responsibility and promote public good (Xi, 2020).

Although President Xi Jinping’s speech exudes both characteristics of political realism and liberalism, there are ways in which it differs from both. According to Morgenthau (2000, p59), the politics of realism is solely focused on the state and the economic, financial, territorial, or military power that it should acquire in order to acquire political hegemony. He also argues that the politics of realism always threatened the occurrence of violence through war or military/police action. President Xi Jinping’s speech differs from this notion of realism as it does not encourage any form of hegemony or a desire for his state to acquire prestige and wealth above other nations. His speech also promotes peace and negotiations which are not part of the political realism agenda. President Xi’s speech also does not illustrate any attempt to claim responsibility for any major development apart from what is corporately achieved; thus, it requires no fame or credit to his country. The speech also differs from liberal politics as it exhibits major characteristics of realism. According to Delhi, liberal politics depends on international peace, Prudence, governance, and our disapproval for extreme capitalism. President Xi Jinping’s speech illustrates the lack of search extreme corporation in his as he encourages separates political composition of the different government in the world towards a common goal mostly established and monitored by the UN and not all the countries as a unit.

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The speech by the Chinese President Xi Jinping evidently exhibits the characteristics of both liberalism and realism political approach. The statement could, therefore, be analyzed from a constructivist point of view to understand how the two political theories appear workable in the speech. According to Wendt (1992, p 392), both neoliberals and neorealist have developed an approach to liberalism and realism that views both from a rationalism point of view. This is to say that rationalists can be contributors from either realism or liberalism that identify the structural differences in both theories and can find what works to establish some middle ground. In the speech by President Xi Jinping, the social constructivist aspect is seen with the way that he attempts to measure terms of extreme realism such as the dependence on science for solutions and not speculations, with extreme liberal principles like international cooperation towards a common goal (Xi, 2020). Although the theory of rationalism does not necessarily provide a definitive middle ground, it provides a possibility for working with both the liberal and realistic principles as such theories are only a result of social constructions and therefore can be changed as the society is dynamic. According to Ruggie (1998, p 885), both realism and liberalism are only social constructions that can be altered and adjusted to find a fruitful middle ground that is beneficial for both political orientations. He adds that although there are no definitive middle ground pushing boundaries from both extremes who dismiss the pretence of universal superiority. Some of the socially constructed strategies as pointed out in president Xi Jinping’s speech include the consideration of the 2030 sustainable goals by each nation in order to arrive at a similar goal. It also includes his suggestion for world scientific operation in order to provide a quick cure and strategy for eradicating the Covid-19 pandemic as well as management for the post-Covid-19 era that would be beneficial for all nations (Xi, 2020). He says this, regardless of whether the countries are liberal or realist as long as they are focused on the goal. It is, therefore, logic to conclude that constructivism encourages both realism and liberal principles as long as the compromises they make do not affect a country’s interest, whether economically or politically or socially. Constructivism promotes ideas and preservation of interest while at the same time exploring the possibilities of international cooperation and relations.

The 75th UN anniversary speech made by the Chinese president Xi Jinping is a classic example of a constructivist perspective on modern politics as it embraces both characteristics of liberalism and realism. Some of how the speech exhibits the characteristics of realism in politics are through his endorsement for his own country, China, and illustrating the forms of development that China has undergone. He also does this by expressing their interest in his country both economically, socially and politically while distinguishing the interests of his nation from his own opinion when suggesting strategies for combating the Covid-19 pandemic. President Xi Jinping’s speech also portrays characteristics of liberalism as he insists on the international corporation and participation towards common goals such as sustainable development and combating the current global challenge of Covid-19. His speech also portrays liberal aspects when he encourages the world government to conform to the central governance of the UN, which is primarily a liberal strategy that discourages anarchy. From a constructivist point of view, one can, therefore, identify that political theories such as realism and liberalism are only socially constructed and can be subject to changes and adjustments. Both realists and liberalists can, therefore, compromise their boundaries by maintaining the major aspects of their principles while working towards similar goals globally.


Doiyle, M. W. (1986). Liberalism and World Politics.

Kant, I. (1795). Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch.

Morgenthau, H. (2000). A Realist Theory Of International Politics.

Ruggie, J. G. (1998). What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-Utilitarianism and the Social Constructivist. International Organization Foundation, 855-885.

Wendt, A. (1992). Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics. International Organization, 391-425.

Xi, J. (2020). Xi Jinping’s speech at the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly

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