China’s Major-Country Diplomacy in 2015

By: Wang YiFrom:English Edition of Qiushi Journal July-September 2016|Vol.8,No.3,Issue No.28 | Updated: 2016-Sep-1 14:34
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Marking the 70th anniversary of both the end of World War II and the founding of the United Nations (UN), the year 2015 was an important year in which the people of the world reflected on the past and looked towards the future. It was also a year in which the transformation of the international system accelerated, geopolitical contests became increasingly interwoven, the world economy witnessed profound adjustments, global challenges became more prominent, and competition over international and regional rules escalated, all of which indicated a crucial phase in the transformation of the international landscape and system.

The year 2015 was a year in which China’s distinctive major-country diplomacy branched out in all directions. Under the guidance of the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, China’s diplomacy adhered closely to the central goals of upholding peaceful development and promoting national rejuvenation, and focused on the two core themes of peace and development. By carrying out a diverse range of diplomatic initiatives in a coordinated manner, we managed to yield good results in the following five aspects.

I. Emphasizing peace, China’s diplomacy has assumed responsibility for safeguarding world peace.

Confronted with constantly emerging international and regional hotspot issues as well as complex global challenges, China actively advocated common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security and worked to promote the peaceful resolution of hotspot issues with a view to contributing more to the preservation of world peace and security.

Representatives attending the 7th ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), convened in Doha on May 12, 2016, have their photo taken before the opening ceremony. XINHUA / PHOTO BY NI KU

China successfully held a large-scale event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Chinese people’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the world’s victory against fascism, joining people all over the world in remembering history, honoring all those who laid down their lives, cherishing peace, and making a better future. At the event, President Xi Jinping, together with leaders and representatives from nearly 60 countries on all five continents and from international and regional organizations, voiced strong determination to protect the fruits of victory in World War II, to uphold the norms of international relations founded on the tenets and principles of the UN Charter, and to safeguard world peace. As a result, China’s historical role in and major contribution to the world’s war against fascism has gained wider recognition, China’s commitment to the path of peaceful development has been more deeply acknowledged, and China’s national determination to oppose any attempt to turn back the wheel of history has become even more resolute.

China offered its own proposals for the peaceful resolution of major hotspot issues. First, China was deeply involved in negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal framework, mediating between pertinent parties and playing a unique and constructive role in brokering the final agreement. Second, China proposed a political solution to the Syrian conflict, appealing to both the Syrian government and the opposition in an effort to promote the resumption of political efforts to resolve the problem. Third, China maintained an objective and impartial stance on the Ukraine issue, and urged relevant parties to take into account the appeals of different regions and ethnic groups in Ukraine. Fourth, China took active and effective steps to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. It supported the improvement of relations between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), remained committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, continued to build up consensus for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and explored the establishment of a peace and security mechanism for Northeast Asia. Fifth, China helped pave the way for Afghan peace talks, supported the improvement of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and promoted the beginning of a new phase in Afghanistan’s reconciliation process.

China worked actively to safeguard world peace and security. It provided several rounds of humanitarian aid for international organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency and relevant countries; sent a peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan; and announced that it would join the new UN peacekeeping capability readiness system, take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad, and build a peacekeeping standby contingent of 8,000 troops. Meanwhile, Chinese warships continued to carry out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the seas around Somalia for the seventh consecutive year. China strongly condemned and resolutely opposed terrorism in all its forms, called for concerted efforts to address both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism, upheld the leading role of the UN in combating terrorism, and opposed double standards, thus playing a constructive role in promoting international counter-terrorism cooperation.

II. Highlighting development, China’s diplomacy has contributed to common development.

Facing weak growth in the world economy and a clear divergence in the macroeconomic policies and economic trends of different countries, China set forth the new principles of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development, signaling that it would provide the world with more opportunities for development by comprehensively furthering reform and opening up wider to the outside world. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang attended the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and the East Asian leaders’ meetings on cooperation, during which they presented large amounts of data, facts, and strong measures to demonstrate the bright prospects for the Chinese economy and great opportunities for China’s development, which helped to reassure the international community of China’s ability to maintain moderately paced and sustainable economic growth. China has become a strong engine of growth in an unhealthy world economy, and a reliable balancing force in an imbalanced world.

Making solid efforts to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, China issued the “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” and signed cooperation agreements with more than 20 countries in line with the principles of mutual consultation, joint development, and shared benefits. In addition, China agreed with Russia to connect the Silk Road Economic Belt with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and with the EU to connect the Belt and Road with the Investment Plan for Europe. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was officially inaugurated, and the Silk Road Fund launched. More than 50 countries became founding members of the AIIB, and more than 70 countries and international organizations expressed willingness to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative. Under the Belt and Road framework, a series of major cooperation projects for mutual benefit were initiated. The development of the China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Pakistan, and China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridors as well as relevant major international projects progressed in an orderly manner; construction on the China-Laos railway, China-Thailand railway, and Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway in Indonesia was launched; and cooperation agreements on the Hungary-Serbia railway were signed with Hungary and Serbia, demonstrating increasingly bright prospects for the construction of a China-Europe land-sea express line. These important, early achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative have injected new vitality into the development of the Eurasian Continent and provided new impetus for the world economic recovery.

China made major efforts to deepen industrial capacity cooperation with other countries. Throughout 2015, China signed agreements on industrial capacity cooperation with nearly 20 countries in accordance with the principles of equality, free will, and mutual benefit, creating a framework for international industrial capacity cooperation covering Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, and facilitating the common development of China and many other countries in the world. China’s industrial capacity cooperation with Kazakhstan progressed smoothly; the China-Belarus Industrial Park entered the construction and operation phase; pilot zones for production capacity cooperation between China and three East African countries began to take shape; joint China-Africa initiatives to develop high-speed railway, highway, and regional aviation networks and boost industrialization in Africa yielded multiple results; a “3x3” model for China-Latin America industrial capacity cooperation was formed; and feasibility studies on the Twin Ocean Railway, also known as the Trans-Amazonian Railway, were launched.

China endeavored to lay down a new framework for a more open economy. In 2015, China signed free trade agreements with Australia and the ROK respectively. Negotiations on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area were concluded; negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) made substantial progress; negotiations on the China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area regained momentum; the goals of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) were further clarified; dedicated efforts to reach high-quality China-US and China-EU bilateral investment treaties were made; and the RMB was included in the basket of currencies which make up the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR). China will never close its doors to the outside world, but will deliver more development dividends to the world.

China further increased its aid to other developing countries. In 2015, it announced the establishment of an assistance fund for South-South cooperation, and exempted intergovernmental interest-free loans for the relevant least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing countries. China took the lead in providing assistance for the three West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, carrying out the largest public health foreign aid initiative in China’s history. China also provided rapid aid for earthquake-stricken areas in Nepal, delivering help to earthquake victims across the Himalayas.

III. Giving priority to cooperation, China’s diplomacy has promoted international cooperation.

In today’s world, countries differ widely in terms of their social systems, values, cultural traditions, and levels of development. Historical disputes have become interwoven with contemporary frictions, and the Cold War mentality and power politics are still visible in international relations. However, in keeping with current trends of development, China has actively called for the establishment of a new model of international relations based on mutually beneficial cooperation, and has explored a new path for international exchanges based on dialogue rather than confrontation and partnership rather than alliance.

China sought to develop relationships with other major countries in a comprehensive and balanced manner. In 2015, President Xi Jinping conducted a historic visit to the United States of America. Following their “Annenberg Estate Meeting” in 2013 and “Night Talks at Yingtai” in 2014, President Xi and President Obama held “Autumn Talks at the White House,” during which they reaffirmed their joint commitment to building a new type of major-country relationship and attained 50 outcomes in cooperation, taking trans-Pacific cooperation to new heights. China and Russia agreed to connect the Silk Road Economic Belt with the EEU, and advanced major strategic cooperation projects concerning energy resources, high-speed railway, and spaceflight, keeping their comprehensive strategic collaborative partnership at a high level. President Xi paid a “super state visit” to the UK, opening up a “golden era” for a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century between the two sides. Premier Li Keqiang also paid fruitful visits to the EU and France, promoting the materialization of a China-EU partnership for peace, growth, reform, and civilization and advancing pragmatic cooperation. China and Germany held their first high-level fiscal and financial dialogue and first strategic dialogue on diplomacy and security, and explored coordination and cooperation between the “Made in China 2025” plan and Germany’s “Industry 4.0.” The Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries was successfully held in China, laying out a blueprint for cooperation between the two sides over the coming five years. China also decided to develop closer partnership with BRICS countries.

China made further efforts to develop a community of shared future with its neighbors. China and ASEAN formulated a plan of action for cooperation over the next five years, successfully held the year of maritime cooperation, the first defense ministers’ informal meeting, and the first ministerial dialogue on law enforcement and security cooperation, and launched the Lancang-Mekong River Sub-region Cooperation, bringing the relationship between the two sides to a higher level. China resolved to join hands with Vietnam in building a community of shared future of strategic importance; established an All-Round Cooperative Partnership Progressing with the Times with Singapore; maintained a sound and stable relationship with Myanmar; and further deepened friendly cooperation with other Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei. China’s traditional friendship with the DPRK continued to develop, its relationship with Japan saw some improvement, and its cooperation with the ROK was comprehensively deepened, while China-Japan-ROK cooperation was resumed. China further enhanced strategic mutual trust with India, consolidated its all-weather partnership with Pakistan, and strengthened its friendship with Nepal, thereby remarkably strengthening its cooperation with South Asian countries. China also maintained close high-level contacts with Central Asian countries. The formulation of the development strategy for the next decade by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) represented another solid step in cooperation between China and Central Asia.

China’s successful cooperation with developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in 2015 unfolded in three splendid “acts.” In early 2015, the first Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was held in Beijing, providing a new platform for China-Latin America comprehensive cooperation. In mid-2015, President Xi attended the Asian-African Summit and the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Bandung Conference, where he called for efforts to deepen Asia-Africa cooperation, expand South-South cooperation, and promote North-South cooperation, thus endowing the Bandung Spirit with new contemporary meaning. Toward the end of 2015, President Xi, together with nearly 50 African leaders, attended the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which redefined China-Africa relations and took China-Africa cooperation to new heights by laying down new foundations and setting forth new plans for cooperation.

IV. Advocating mutual benefit, China’s diplomacy has contributed wisdom to improving the international system.

Seventy years after the end of World War II, human society has reached a pivotal point in the adjustment and transformation of the international order and system. When attending a series of summits marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN, President Xi called for the establishment of a new model of international relations based on mutually beneficial cooperation, and identified a five-pronged overall plan and scheme for building a community of shared future. In doing so, he not only outlined a promising vision for the preservation and improvement of the international order and system, but also injected new vigor into these efforts. 

China firmly supported the core role of the UN in international affairs. With a clear understanding of current trends and sights on the future, President Xi comprehensively detailed China’s viewpoints on history, order, and development in keeping with the spirit of the UN Charter, leaving a deep Chinese imprint on the history of international relations. China announced the establishment of a 10-year, US$1billion China-UN Peace and Development Fund, which demonstrated the country’s firm commitment to supporting UN initiatives and promoting multilateral cooperation.

China made major efforts to push the global governance system in a more just and equitable direction. It called on all countries to develop an open world economy, oppose protectionism, and ensure that various regional free trade arrangements serve as beneficial supplements to the multilateral trade system rather than create new barriers. In addition, we set forth a uniquely Chinese outlook on global governance, and worked not only to promote democracy and rule of law in global governance but also to increase the representation and say of emerging markets and developing countries, with a view to ensuring that all countries enjoy the same rights, opportunities, and rules.

China played an active role in guiding global economic governance and regional cooperation. China participated in the development of the G20, APEC, and other global and regional platforms for economic cooperation, set forth plans for stimulating global economic growth by identifying the causes of the global economic downturn, urged G20 members to better coordinate their macroeconomic policies, guided APEC in upholding open regionalism, stepped up efforts to establish the FTAAP, and encouraged various countries to tap into their growth potential through reform and innovation.

China participated constructively in international cooperation aimed at responding to global challenges. We actively steered inter-governmental negotiations on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development towards concrete results that will benefit developing countries. China issued joint statements on climate change with the US, France, India, Brazil, and the EU respectively, allocated 20 billion yuan for the establishment of a South-South Cooperation Fund on Climate Change, and provided important momentum for the conclusion of a comprehensive, balanced, powerful, and binding agreement at the Paris Climate Conference. China also cooperated with Russia, the US, and other countries on cyber security, making a positive contribution to the preservation of security in international cyberspace.

V. Implementing mission-oriented diplomacy, China has assumed responsibility for safeguarding its national interests.

China’s major-country diplomacy shoulders the mission of safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security, and developmental interests, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals and legal persons overseas.

The PRC resolutely safeguarded its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and legitimate maritime rights and interests. We continued to manage disputes through dialogue, and sought to resolve disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultation. We put forward a five-point proposal for peace and stability in the South China Sea, actively facilitated maritime cooperation and joint development, fully and effectively implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and steadily promoted consultations regarding a code of conduct in the South China Sea. At the same time, China maintained close contact with pertinent parties on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and worked with the majority of ASEAN countries in lawfully safeguarding the freedom of navigation and overflight and in opposing actions that would intensify disputes and create tension in the region.

China continued to provide stronger support for its citizens and organizations overseas. In a major effort to put into effect an integrative approach to national security, China established and improved mechanisms for protecting the safety of Chinese citizens and organizations overseas. Throughout the year, we evacuated over 600 nationals from Yemen after the outbreak of civil war, brought more than 5,600 stranded Chinese citizens home from earthquake-stricken Nepal, rescued nearly 20 Chinese citizens that had been kidnapped or taken hostage overseas, and handled over 60,000 consular protection cases involving Chinese citizens or enterprises. The Foreign Ministry’s Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services extended the coverage of its “12308” hotline to over 200 Chinese embassies or consulates abroad, providing round-the-clock assistance for Chinese citizens overseas all year round. This signified the initial formation of an emergency response network covering the globe. In addition, China reached 19 agreements or arrangements with 16 countries on facilitating personnel exchanges, thereby further increasing the value of the Chinese passport.

China worked actively with the international community to pursue corrupt officials overseas and recover stolen state assets, making important progress in international judicial cooperation that will help ensure that corrupt officials can no longer evade punishment in safe havens abroad.

China’s diplomatic initiatives in the year 2015 significantly enhanced the country’s international standing. They demonstrated the country’s demeanor as a major country, expanded its global influence, and consolidated its image as a responsible country. Meanwhile, these initiatives showed that China’s diplomacy had its own distinctive characteristics: it pursues peaceful development rather than the traditional model in which rising powers have always sought to dominate; seeks mutually beneficial cooperation rather than a zero-sum game; advocates democracy in international relations rather than power politics; and upholds the right outlook on justice and gain rather than caring only about material gain. China’s diplomatic initiatives in 2015 also demonstrated that major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics would uphold the leadership of the CPC, the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, an independent foreign policy of peace, and a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, and that it would remain committed to opening up a new path of national rejuvenation based on peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation, and to creating a better world of enduring peace and common prosperity.

The year 2016 is the first year of the 13th Five-Year Plan period. In 2016, China will host the G20 Summit in Hangzhou and comprehensively advance the Belt and Road Initiative, which will bring the country further into the global limelight. We will continue to promote theoretical and practical innovations in major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and endow our diplomatic initiatives with a more distinct Chinese character and style, in an effort to create a favorable international environment for the smooth implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan, provide a strong guarantee for the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, and make greater contributions to promoting world peace and development. 

Wang Yi is Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.1, 2016)