The 19th CPC National Congress and China’s Major Country Diplomacy in the New Era

By: Yang JiechiFrom:English Edition of QiuShi Journal January-March 2018|Vol.10,No.1,Issue No.34 | Updated: 2018-Feb-11 16:01
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The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was a meeting of great importance held at a decisive stage in China’s endeavor of becoming a moderately prosperous society and at a critical moment as socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era. It is also of epoch-making significance in the history of the development of both the Party and the country and the history of national rejuvenation. General Secretary Xi Jinping’s report delivered at the opening ceremony of the Congress gives a profound account of a range of major theoretical and practical issues China faced in upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, incorporating a broad view of both history and contemporary trends. On the basis of his account, he laid out an all-encompassing blueprint outlining strategic plans and pointing to a clear direction for both the Party and the country in their undertakings. This report, which systematically elaborates on the new circumstances, tasks, and requirements faced by China’s major country diplomacy in the new era, is a political program and a guide to action for our endeavors to advance China’s diplomacy at a new historical starting point. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we must put the guiding principles of the Congress into practice and open up new prospects for China’s diplomacy, so as to create a sound external environment for the overall initiatives of the Party and the country and make due contributions to advancing the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Xi Jinping attends and delivers a keynote speech at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting in Beijing on December 1, 2017.

PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER DING LIN

I. Historic achievements made in China’s diplomacy over the past five years

Since the 18th National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has promoted innovations in the theory and practice of China’s diplomacy with a focus on achieving the “Two Centenary Goals” and realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. It has thus pushed China’s major country diplomacy to capture many historic and pioneering achievements.

Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China is posed to make great strides in its major country diplomacy. During the past five years, General Secretary Xi, with the foresight and courage of a great statesman and strategist, has formulated overall plans for China’s diplomatic initiatives and guided China’s diplomacy to forge ahead and exhibit Chinese character and style in a more confident and distinctive manner. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee led by Xi Jinping, we have and will continue to actively advocate the development of a community with a shared future for humanity, make further progress in China’s diplomacy on all fronts, jointly pursue the Belt and Road Initiative, and push for reform of the global governance system while resolutely safeguarding our national interests. This serves to foster a favorable external environment for China’s reform, development and stability, making great new contributions to global peace and development.

We have built a global network of partnerships, thus expanding the convergence of interests with other countries. During the past five years, with neighboring and major countries as the focus and on the basis of relations with other developing countries, we have engaged in overall planning, holistic management, and all-round efforts for promoting China’s diplomatic initiatives in multilateral arenas. On the basis of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit, China has established a range of partnerships with nearly 100 countries and regional organizations. This has expanded and deepened China’s opening up in all directions, across a broad range of fields, and on multiple-levels, and built a circle of friends across the world, thereby working to create a bright tomorrow with the people of all countries.

We have engaged in joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative, thus introducing new dimensions for China’s opening up to the outside world. Over the past five years, we have continued to pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, thus forming a new layout of opening up propelled by the Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative went from proposal to action and from idea to practice, rapidly developing into a platform for international cooperation characterized by openness and inclusiveness, and a widely welcomed global public good. At present, there are over 100 countries and international organizations that actively support and participate in this initiative. We successfully hosted the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017 and further linked our development strategies with those of countries along the route, thus fostering a sound environment for achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration.

We have championed the development of a community with a shared future for humanity, thus encouraging the evolution of the global governance system. Over the past five years, we have made efforts to contribute Chinese wisdom toward improving global governance, promoting a more just and equitable direction for the international order and global governance system. We hosted a series of diplomatic events, including the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing, the G20 2016 Summit in Hangzhou, and the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, participated in UN peacekeeping operations, and moved ahead with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development and cooperation agendas such as ones for tackling climate change, so as to boost the international community’s ability to respond to common challenges.

We have safeguarded China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests and protected our legitimate rights and interests abroad. Over the past five years, with a firm commitment to national sovereignty and security as the number one priority, we have resolutely safeguarded our sovereignty, territorial integrity, and maritime rights and interests. We have done this by drawing red lines on issues concerning China’s core interests, including those related to Taiwan and the South China Sea, and working to ensure that these lines are not crossed. This has served to not only greatly shake up the morale of the Party, the army, and the people, but also earn widespread respect from the international community. By upholding the principle of practicing “diplomacy for the people,” we have formed and improved a system for protecting the interests of Chinese nationals and enterprises abroad, providing effective protection for their legitimate rights and interests.

Over the past five years, we have kept in mind both our domestic and international imperatives, pressed ahead, worked to overcome a variety of difficulties, and continued to break new ground in advancing China’s major country diplomacy. China’s international standing has risen as never before. Its international influence, strength of appeal, and power to shape the environment have also been further enhanced. These achievements, more than anything else, are attributable to General Secretary Xi who acts as the navigator and helmsman of the entire Party, the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, and the rational guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. These also provide a powerful driving force and the fundamental guarantee for ensuring that China’s diplomacy can stand firmly at the forefront, assume the international moral high ground, seize the strategic initiative in a changing world, and write new chapters in the annals of a new era.

II. New circumstances, new tasks, and new requirements facing China’s diplomacy in the new era

The Congress analyzed the international and domestic situations and development trends, accurately identifying the historic juncture and international standing of our country. It also systematically answered a range of major questions, including what kind of world China wants to help shape and what kind of international relations China wants to forge. In so doing, it specified the target, mission, central tasks, principles, and strategies of China’s diplomatic initiatives, thus laying out the top-level design and blazing a path ahead for carrying out China’s major country diplomacy in the new era.

1. Making a well-founded assessment of the international situation facing China’s diplomacy in the new era

The report to the 19th Congress offers an overall, objective and dialectical analysis of the international environment facing China and makes a range of major assessments, including that although the world is undergoing major developments, transformation, and adjustment, peace and development remain the themes and China is still in the midst of a period of strategic opportunity. These assessments serve as the grounding and launch pad for all of our diplomatic initiatives.

Peace and development remain the call of our day. The world has increasingly become a mutually dependent and closely-interconnected community with a shared future. No country can address the many challenges facing humanity on its own, nor can any country afford to retreat into self-isolation. To pursue peace, development and mutually beneficial cooperation is the common aspiration shared by the people of all countries and also an inviolable and irreversible trend.

Today’s world is undergoing profound and unprecedented changes. The trends of global multi-polarity, economic globalization, informatization of society, and cultural diversity are surging forward and emerging markets and numerous developing countries are rising rapidly, thus driving a rebalancing of global power and gradually reshaping the theory and practice of modern international relations. Therefore, strengthening global governance and reforming the global governance system are an imperative and general trend.

Yet, as a world we face growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors. Global economic growth lacks energy; the gap between rich and poor continues to widen; hotspot issues often arise in some regions; and unconventional security threats like terrorism, cyber-insecurity, major infectious diseases, and climate change continue to spread. As human beings we have many common challenges to face. These not only compose the major factors influencing world stability and peace, but also highlight the necessity and urgency for all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for humanity.

Our overall assessment is that the world is now in the midst of profound and complex changes and will be so for a time to come; China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development; and the prospects are bright but the challenges are severe. We should, therefore, develop unshakable confidence, forge ahead with determination and be alert to dangers even in times of calm, so as to maintain strategic resolve and seize the strategic initiative in the face of a volatile international situation.

2. Laying out the target and mission of China’s diplomacy in the new era

The report to the 19th National Congress points out that, “The Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress. To make new and greater contributions for mankind is our Party’s abiding mission.” This statement specifies the target and mission of China’s major country diplomacy in the new era, and clarifies that China’s diplomacy takes as its duty both seeking prosperity for the Chinese people, and also working for the common progress of human society.

Realizing the national rejuvenation and leading the people in the pursuit of a better life is our Party’s abiding goal and historic mission. Implementing China’s major country diplomacy in the new era precisely means defending China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests with resolve and with a focus on the overall concerns of the Party and the country. In so doing, China’s major country diplomacy in the new era creates a more favorable international environment for peaceful development that preserves and extends the important period of strategic opportunity for development. This in turn provides a strong support and guarantee for delivering on the “Two Centenary Goals” and realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and the people’s aspirations for a better life.

The Chinese Dream is closely connected with the dreams of the people of other countries; the Chinese Dream will benefit all. On this new journey of development in the new era China will continue to make its due contributions to world peace and development. We will provide new impetus for world development through our own stable development and opening up; conduct new inquiries into humanity’s political advancement through developing the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; inject more stability and certainty into the world situation by being constructive in resolving international and regional issues; and contribute more Chinese wisdom and strength to long-term global development by driving the reform of the global governance system.

3. Expounding the central task of China’s diplomacy in the new era

The report to the Congress makes it clear that China’s major country diplomacy aims to foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future for humanity. Moreover, promoting this aim is identified as one of the 14 points constituting the basic policy for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

Building a community with a shared future for humanity calls for all people to work together to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. This idea sets forth a blueprint for realizing the common development, sustainable prosperity, and enduring peace and stability of human society. It reflects the excellence of cultures both Chinese and foreign, and common pursuits for the values of all humanity. It indicates the direction in which the international community should proceed, and is thus of far-reaching significance to China’s peace and development and global prosperity and progress. This idea is a continuation and development of China’s major diplomatic thought and propositions in different periods since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a major theoretical innovation of contemporary China’s diplomacy, and an important theory which China contributes to the world; it has been mentioned in UN documents and its influence is far-reaching.

A new form of international relations characterized by mutual respect, fairness, justice, and mutual benefit is the basic path toward a community of shared future for humanity. Forging a new form of international relations calls for all countries, by upholding the principle of mutual respect, to cooperate in pursuing fair and just international relations and order, to stick together through thick and thin, and to achieve mutual benefit. Mutual respect is the precondition, fairness and justice is the guideline, and achieving mutual benefit is the target. The essence of this new form of international relations is to blaze a trail for developing state-to-state relations, and to pave the way and create conditions for building a community of shared future for humanity.

4. Enriching and developing the guiding principles of China’s diplomacy in the new era

The report to the Congress reiterates China’s continued commitment to peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, and to a fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and common development. It also states that China remains firmly committed to pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace and to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. These guidelines for China’s diplomacy have been tested through practice and fully demonstrate the consistency and continuity of China’s foreign policies as well as their adaptability to contemporary trends. China must uphold these basic principles in its diplomacy for the long term.

Meanwhile, the report to the Congress further adds to and develops China’s strategy of peaceful development in accordance with the new changes and features of the new era. The report not only stresses that China will stay on the path of peaceful development and remain committed to its mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, but also highlights that it will uphold the greater good while pursuing shared interests, and will foster new thinking on common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security. It states that China will never pursue development at the expense of others’ interests, nor will China ever give up its own legitimate rights and interests. It emphasizes in particular that no one should expect China to swallow any affront to its interests. In addition, the report promises that regardless its stage of development, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion, and will continue to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold international order. This is a solemn promise that China has made to the world, reflecting the firm commitment of the Chinese people to peaceful development. At the same time, this is the strategic choice and sincere wish of the Chinese people and the major principle by which China’s diplomacy in the new era must abide.

5. Furthering all aspects of the strategic plan for China’s diplomacy in the new era

The report to the Congress draws up a strategic plan and raises clear requirements for performing the major tasks of China’s diplomatic initiatives in the new era.

China will continue to improve its diplomatic layout and build a network of global partnerships. Therefore, it will promote coordination and cooperation with other major countries and work to build a framework for major country relations characterized by overall stability and balanced development. China will deepen relations with its neighbors according to the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendships and partnerships with its neighbors. China will, guided by the principle of upholding the greater good while pursuing shared interests and the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, work to strengthen solidary and cooperation with other developing countries. This continues and develops China’s diplomatic policy of never entering into an alliance with any other country, which transcends the Cold War mentality that “if you are not my friend, you are my enemy.” This provides a new way of thinking about relations between countries and new models for handling them.

China will remain firmly committed to the Belt and Road Initiative and further open up to the outside world on all fronts. To this end, China will adhere to the fundamental national policy of opening up and pursue development with open doors. China will closely integrate the Belt and Road Initiative with both building a community with a shared future for humanity and honoring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so as to build a new platform for international cooperation and create new drivers of shared development. This will boost regional economic integration and regional cooperation, and provide the world with more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.

China will deepen its involvement in global governance and work to guide the reform of the international order. For this purpose, China will follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration in global governance and push the global governance system in a more just and equitable direction. China will stand for democracy in international relations, and support the active role of the United Nations, as well as the efforts of other developing countries to increase their representation and strengthen their voice. This shows the role played by China as a participant in, shaper of, and contributor to the current international system and marks an important contribution made by China to the world as a major country with a strong sense of responsibility.

The five aspects mentioned above, including the situational assessment, target and mission, central tasks, guiding principles, and strategy, form the basic framework of China’s major country diplomacy in the new era. Among these, some core concepts, such as building a community with a shared future, upholding the greater good while pursuing shared interests, the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and the Belt and Road Initiative have been written into the CPC Constitution and incorporated as important components of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. These concepts will guide China’s diplomacy to successfully navigate the waters ahead.

III. Using the 19th Congress’s principles as guidance to start a new phase for China’s diplomatic initiatives in the new era

Studying, disseminating, and acting on the principles set forth at the Congress is and will remain the prime political task of the whole Party at present and for a time to come; this is also the central theme of all our diplomatic initiatives and affairs. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we will fully apply the guidelines of the 19th Congress, and more actively and effectively promote China’s major country diplomacy. This will serve to foster a favorable international environment for taking the causes of both the Party and the country to new heights.

1. Prioritizing political guidance and gaining a command of the guidelines of the 19th Congress

We should maintain political integrity, think in terms of the big picture, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership; have full confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and closely align ourselves with the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core. We should uphold, support and serve the leadership core. We should develop a command of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and devote ourselves to thoroughly understanding and effectively acting on it. It will thus become a mighty force steering our diplomatic work. We should remain committed to upholding the leadership of the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core over China’s diplomacy. We should continue to strengthen the centralized and unified leadership and the overall coordination of our Party over diplomacy, and make sure that the foreign policies and strategies set forth by the Party Central Committee are effectively acted on. Further, we should strive to communicate and increase international understanding and recognition of the new concepts, ideas, and strategies from the Congress, so as to boost China’s international influence and strength of appeal.

2. Improving strategic planning and focusing on serving the Party and the country’s key tasks

With Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as our guide to action, we should formulate specific diplomatic strategies, policies, and initiatives within the framework of the Party Central Committee’s overall plan. At the new historic juncture in China’s development and based on the newly introduced strategic approach for achieving modernization in two-steps, we should remember both our internal and international imperatives, formulate suitable plans for diplomatic initiatives, and foster a peaceful international environment and a stable international order for domestic development. On the basis of the principle of building a network of global partnerships, we should boost exchanges and cooperation with major countries, neighboring countries and other developing countries, and make constant efforts to improve our diplomatic strategies. Moreover, we must be more mindful of latent dangers and consider worst-case scenarios, with a view to effectively forestalling and fending off major risks and challenges that arise in the international arena, and safeguarding our country’s sovereignty, national security, and development interests with firm resolve.

3. Strengthening the sense of mission and making diplomatic initiatives more proactive and creative

We should advance innovative theories and practices in China’s diplomacy. Focusing on the tasks central to fostering a new type of international relations and building a community with a shared future for humanity will serve to continually develop China’s relationship with the world and deepen our understanding of the laws governing China’s major country diplomacy. We should acquire an accurate grasp of the continuity, creativity, and contemporary relevance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and inquire into new approaches, methods, and measures for carrying out China’s diplomatic initiatives, so as to keep breathing new life into China’s major country diplomacy. We should actively participate in reform and development of the global governance system through closer engagement with our practical diplomatic initiatives, and put forth more new concepts, initiatives, and plans, thereby contributing more Chinese wisdom and strength to the international community.

4. Consolidating strategic guarantees and boosting our capacity for carrying out diplomatic initiatives

In line with new situations and requirements, we should ensure our diplomatic work is more strategic and forward-looking; we should be adept at identifying situations both inside and outside of China, coordinating different sectors and navigating complex situations; and we should be able to effectively respond to and deal with new problems and challenges that arise in the course of our diplomatic efforts. While fully eliciting the enthusiasm and initiative of various departments, we should keep in mind the bigger picture and the importance of coordination, laying stress on creating a cooperative and concerted environment for diplomatic endeavors. With a view to modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance, we should move ahead with reforms to diplomatic mechanisms and systems so as to boost the quality and effect of our diplomatic initiatives. We should further strengthen our capacity to train and organize personnel with a view to fostering a cohort of diplomatic officials with firm political beliefs, strong professional expertise, the courage to assume responsibilities, loyalty, and moral integrity.

General Secretary Xi stressed that as socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era, our Party must adopt a new look and make new accomplishments. In November 2017, soon after the successful conclusion of the 19th Congress, General Secretary Xi met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and then with US President Donald Trump in Beijing, attended the 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam’s Da Nang city, and then paid state visits to Vietnam and Laos. These commitments were received as marked successes and have written a glorious new chapter in the annals of China’s major country diplomacy in the new era. Rallying more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, we should gain a command of and act on the guidelines laid out at the 19th Congress, and work with great determination under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. This will ensure we will make new and greater contributions to securing a decisive victory in becoming a moderately prosperous society and to striving for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.23, 2017)

Yang Jiechi is State Councilor and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee. He was elected Member of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee in October 2017.