published on thediplomat.com, 30.07.2022
If asked in which international arena the great power conflict over global order has become most salient in recent years, most would probably point to the United Nations Human Rights Council or the Security Council. In contrast, the U.N.’s development cooperation has so far been spared diplomatic conflicts of similar intensity. But as China has become more articulate about “building international relations of a new type” which will be less dominated by Western powers and norms and give greater voice to developing states, tensions are rising in this field too. It was a major success for China when in 2019 a Chinese candidate, Qu Dongyu, was elected director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Three years into Qu’s tenure, a worrisome, multi-pronged diplomatic brawl has erupted between FAO leadership and Western members, highlighting the challenging path for China toward a new type of international relations.