Working for World Peace and Development for All

—Marking Sixty Years of the PRC’s Diplomatic Work

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 00:12
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    The founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 marked the end of a century of humiliation for the Chinese nation and ushered in a new era of pride and progress. It also opened a new chapter in China’s diplomatic work. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, it is a good time to systematically review the extraordinary course of New China’s diplomacy and carefully analyze the valuable experience learned from our successes. As we are now on the eve of a new historic starting point in Chinese diplomacy, this will have great significance for our diplomatic work under the new circumstances.

    I. An Extraordinary Course with Impressive Achievements

    China’s diplomacy over the past 60 years has withstood the severe tests posed by changes in the international situation to score impressive achievements. The first generation of the CPC central leadership with Chairman Mao Zedong at the core established an independent foreign policy based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. This policy helped bring about favorable international conditions for China’s socialist revolution and development. The second generation of the CPC central leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at the core reached the scientific conclusion that peace and development are the two major themes of today’s world and defined the goal of diplomatic work as striving for a relatively long period of peace in the international environment and a regional environment favorable for carrying out modernization of the country. This opened up new prospects for diplomatic work. The third generation of the CPC central leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core gained a clear understanding of the global trend toward multi-polarity and economic globalization and advocated active participation in international exchange and cooperation. This enabled China to gain a higher international standing and greater influence in the world. Since the 16th CPC National Congress, the CPC central leadership with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary has been holding high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, defining a major strategic approach of striving for peaceful development, pursuing a win-win strategy of mutual benefit through opening up to the outside world, and working for harmony in the world by promoting lasting peace and prosperity for all. Following this approach, China’s diplomacy has made continuous progress on all fronts.  

    Friendly relations and cooperation between China and other countries have blossomed thanks to 60 years of unremitting efforts. The number of countries that have diplomatic ties with China has increased from 18 to 171. While safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, Chinese diplomatic efforts have helped to create a more favorable external environment and raised the country’s international standing significantly, as well as made important contributions to world peace and development. 

    1. Relations with major countries have continuously grown. Over the past 60 years, China-US relations have evolved from confrontation and mutual isolation to dialogue and cooperation. The Shanghai Communiqué jointly issued by China and the US in 1972 reopened the door to bilateral relations between the two countries. Since the normalization of ties in 1979, China-US relations have, on the whole, continued to improve despite a number of ups and downs. In April 2009, the two sides agreed to develop a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relationship for the 21st century. This agreement raised the development of China-US bilateral relations to a new level. 

    China-Soviet relations have traveled a tortuous path, going from alliance to confrontation, and from relaxation to normalization. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China-Soviet relations smoothly transitioned to China-Russia relations. China and Russia have established a strategic partnership of coordination and high-level bilateral relations have continued to grow steadily stronger. 

   We have always taken a strategic, long-term approach in developing China-Europe relations. The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France in 1964 marked the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the major Western countries. China and the EU established a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003, and dialogue and cooperation between the two sides have since continued to expand. 

    In approaching China-Japan relations, we have followed a principle of “keeping an eye on the mirror of history while looking to the future,” concentrating on developing long-term friendly relations with Japan. In 1972, China-Japan relations were normalized. Thanks to the efforts of both sides, in the past few years the two countries have established strategic relations of mutual benefit and further expanded cooperation in all fields. 

    China has continued to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with major emerging countries and improve coordination and cooperation in international affairs.

    Hands extended across the Pacific Ocean: US President Nixon arrived in Beijing in Air Force One on February 21, 1972 at 11:30am. Zhou Enlai and other Chinese leaders met him at the airport. Mao Zedong personally met with Nixon in his study at 2:40pm. That evening Zhou Enlai arranged a banquet in the Great Hall of the People to welcome Nixon and his wife. On February 28, China and the US issued the Joint Communique at Shanghai. Following the thaw in Sino-US relations, Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei, and French President Pompidou also visited China, after which a number of other Western countries also established normal relations with China. This was a great step forward for Chinese diplomacy. / Photo supplied by Xinhua

    2. China has established and strengthened good relations and cooperation with neighboring countries. Through our efforts to build amicable relations and partnerships with neighboring countries, we have established friendly and cooperative relations with all our neighbors. By adhering to a principle of “consultation on an equal footing and mutual understanding and accommodation” and “shelving differences and seeking common development,” we have settled boundary issues with most neighbors. China promoted regional cooperation by proposing the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and taking an active part in arenas for cooperation such as the meeting of ASEAN plus China (10+1), the meeting of ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) and the East Asia Summit. China has played a unique and constructive role in striving for a political solution to hotspot issues in neighboring areas. 

    3. Traditional friendly relations with other developing countries have been strengthened. It has always been a basic principle underlying China's foreign policy to work for stronger solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries. China made important contributions to the success of the Bandung Conference in 1955, which helped strengthen solidarity and cooperation among Asian and African countries. The success of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation hosted by China in 2006 gave a strong boost to the formation of a new type of China-Africa strategic partnership. We established a new type of partnership with Arab countries oriented toward peace and sustainable development and a comprehensive cooperative partnership with Latin American countries based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual development. China and other developing countries have supported each other politically and continually worked to deepen economic, trade and cultural cooperation and improve coordination in international and regional affairs. 

    4. China has engaged in a diverse array of multilateral diplomatic activities. The 26th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to restore China’s lawful seat in the UN in 1971. Since then, China’s lawful seats in UN specialized agencies have been restored one by one. China acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2001. China has now joined more than 130 intergovernmental international organizations, signed more than 300 multilateral treaties, and contributed more than 14,500 troops and policing personnel to UN peacekeeping missions. China is playing an increasingly important role in international affairs, especially in efforts to solve major international and regional hotspot issues. China has taken an active part in international multilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism, arms non-proliferation, climate change, the financial crisis and energy security. These activities have not only helped preserve China’s own national interests, but also shown that China is a major responsible country. 

    5. Economic diplomacy has produced many good results. We have carried out a great deal of very effective work to promote domestic economic and social development, using political means to accomplish economic goals. We promoted economic and trade cooperation with other countries and followed the “going-out” and “bringing-in” strategies in accordance with the policy of the Central Committee of making full use of both domestic and international markets and both domestic and foreign resources. We strongly promoted diplomatic activities concerning energy and resource issues, producing a large number of important cooperative projects bearing on the prosperity of the nation and the well-being of the people. We actively participated in international cooperation aimed at tackling the international financial crisis and did all we could to promote sustained domestic economic growth. At the same time, we also promoted reform of the international financial system to speed up recovery from the crisis and made important contributions to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, winning extensive praise from the international community. 

    6. We have devoted a great deal of energy to staging public and people-oriented activities. Through a wide variety of public and people-oriented activities we established a firm foundation of public opinion for developing state-to-state relations. We have arranged for 1,586 Chinese provinces and cities to be “sister-provinces” and “sister cities” with provinces and cities in 123 countries. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was not only a grand event for sports and culture, but also an unprecedented opportunity for people-oriented diplomacy. It has expanded China’s influence and increased mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese people and the people of other countries. 

    7. We have firmly defended our sovereignty and national security. China has categorically opposed interference in its internal affairs and attempts to jeopardize its sovereignty and national security by any external forces in whatever guise. It has steadfastly opposed separatist activities calling for “Taiwan independence” and strengthened and expanded international commitment to the one China principle, which is the basic element necessary to create a favorable external environment for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. In the international arena, China has fought firmly against anti-China hostile forces such as “Tibet independence” forces, East Turkistan terrorist forces and the cult organization of the Falun Gong, foiling their attempts to foment disturbances or carry out infiltration or sabotage activities. China gives top priority to the interests of its people, attaching great importance to the protection of their overseas interests and the provision of consular protection. It has taken effective measures to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of overseas nationals and corporations. 

    8. Hong Kong and Macao were smoothly returned to the embrace of the motherland. In accordance with the scientific concept of “one country, two systems” initiated by Comrade Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese government signed joint statements, first with the British government and then with the Portuguese government, on the resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao, respectively. The smooth return of Hong Kong in 1997 and Macao in 1999 finally put an end to the century-long national humiliation and has far-reaching historic significance for the grand cause of China’s reunification. We have supported the lawful international exchange and cooperation activities of Hong Kong and Macao and helped them remain prosperous and stable. 

    II.  Past Experience, a Guide for Future Action

    The glorious course of the past 60 years of diplomacy has provided us with a rich store of valuable experience. 

    1. We must maintain the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC in diplomatic work. This is a distinct feature of China’s diplomatic work and a fundamental guarantee for its success. The Party Central Committee has always attached great importance to and carefully guided diplomatic work. The Party Central Committee’s vision and wise decisions enabled us to surmount a variety of difficulties and challenges and win many victories. Chinese leaders themselves take part in major diplomatic activities. Their superb diplomatic artistry and unique diplomatic style have won many friends and great prestige for our country. The more progress we make in diplomacy, the more important it becomes to uphold the centralized and unified leadership of the Party in diplomatic work, to adhere to the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping’s Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, apply the Scientific Outlook on Development and stand behind the Party’s assessment of the international situation and the Party’s strategic concepts, principles, policies and programs.   

    2. We must persistently work to enrich and develop theories on diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Over the past 60 years, our Party has always stood in the forefront of the times; it has observed and analyzed the world situation under the guidance of Marxist world view and methodology, promoted innovation in our approach to diplomacy, practice and mechanisms and gradually developed a system of diplomatic theory with Chinese characteristics. This is a constantly developing and open theoretical system that vividly demonstrates the application of Marxism to China’s diplomacy and provides a powerful ideological tool for our diplomatic work. The world is undergoing major changes and adjustments, producing new situations, new problems and new challenges. Under such circumstances, it is more important than ever for us to keep an open mind, adopt a realistic approach and keep abreast with the times in our diplomatic work and to further enrich and develop the system of diplomatic theory with Chinese characteristics so that it can better guide our practical diplomatic activities.  

    3. We must focus on the central task of the Party and the state in our diplomatic work. Diplomacy is an extension of domestic affairs. Diplomatic work, an important part of the work of the Party and the state, has the important responsibility of creating a sound external environment for the central task of the Party and the state. The relationship between China and the rest of the world has undergone historic changes. Domestic interests have become more closely linked to the international situation. We must keep in mind the central task of the Party and the state at all times, improve our understanding of the interaction between domestic and foreign affairs, bear in mind the issues of concern to and needs of the country and rely on, serve and promote development. 

    4. We must diversify and improve the pattern of diplomacy to make it more multi-dimensional. Over the past 60 years, China has expanded the range of diplomatic activities, reached out to more and more countries and diversified the targets for diplomatic work. The pattern of diplomatic activity has also seen constant diversification and improvement. Relations with major countries, neighboring countries and other developing countries as well as multilateral diplomacy are all indispensable components of our overall diplomacy. Diplomacy in certain fields has been gaining importance in recent years. As the country’s overall strength increases, we will be more deeply involved in international diplomatic activities in more fields. We need to improve our planning, three-dimensional thinking and three-dimensional operations, and diversify and improve the pattern of our diplomacy to make it even more multi-dimensional. 

    5. We must steadfastly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. This is the aim and point of departure for our diplomatic work. Sovereignty, security and development interests represent a concentrated manifestation of our national interests. Development serves as the basis for sovereignty and security while sovereignty and security provide a guarantee for development. Diplomatic work must proceed from the national interests, combine the fundamental interests of the Chinese people with the common interests of humankind and realize national interests while also accommodating the legitimate interests and concerns of other countries. 

    6. We must improve the training of diplomats. How well diplomacy succeeds is determined by the quality of diplomats. During the past 60 years, we have always placed great importance on training to produce diplomats that have a high level of both political integrity and professional competency, are highly disciplined and are able to overcome difficulties. Diplomats are required to be loyal to the Party, the country, the people and to be dedicated to their missions. They must put revolutionary ideals above everything else. Diplomats with these qualities represent a reliable institutional guarantee for the implementation and execution of the Party’s foreign policy and principles in international relations. We need to greatly improve personnel in the foreign service. In particular, we must expand the training of young diplomats to produce enough diplomatic personnel to meet the demand for vigorous development of our diplomatic activities. 

    III.  Working Hard for Even Greater Progress 

    At the 11th meeting of Chinese diplomatic envoys held not long ago, General Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out that diplomatic work had acquired a more prominent position and played a more important role in the overall work of the Party and the state. He called on us to constantly improve our capability and raise the level of our diplomatic work to help create a sound international environment and external conditions for the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the acceleration of socialist modernization. We must unswervingly observe the spirit of this meeting and follow the instructions of General Secretary Hu Jintao to make our country politically more influential, economically more competitive, morally more inspiring and internationally more appealing in its image. 

    – Our present task in diplomatic work is to reduce the impact of the international financial crisis on China and maintain steady and fast economic development. We need to carry out a strategy of diversifying foreign trade and developing free trade areas, and push for the reform of the international financial system to create more external conditions conducive to China’s economic and social development.

    – We must further diversify and improve the pattern of diplomacy to make it more multi-dimensional, make a better game plan for China’s relations with major countries, consolidate geopolitical strategic support from neighboring countries, strengthen the position of developing countries as the basis in our diplomacy, vigorously carry out multilateral diplomacy and strive to improve diplomatic work in all fields. 

    – We must improve planning and coordination to adjust to the new circumstances, bear in mind both the domestic and international situations, balance bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, balance national and regional diplomacy and diplomacy in specific fields, balance national interests and the interests of other countries and make progress in our foreign relations on all fronts. 

    – We need to strengthen China’s soft power, project a civilized, democratic, open and progressive image to the world and promote understanding and identity on the part of the international community concerning China’s major strategic approach of following a path of peaceful development and pursuing a win-win strategy of opening up and working for a more harmonious world. 

    China now stands at a crucial point linking the past and the future of its peaceful development. We must work with a strong sense of political responsibility and historical mission to start a new chapter in our diplomatic work under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary and make even greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.  

(From Qiushi in Chinese No.19 2009)


Note: Author: Minister of Foreign Affairs

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