China’s Diplomacy in 2011

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-07-04 14:40
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The year 2011 witnessed extremely profound and complex changes in the international situation. Faced with these changes, China’s diplomacy revolved around China’s central tasks, seized opportunities, met challenges, and constantly opened up new horizons, thereby firmly safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests.

A friendly ping pong match between Chinese and American athletes to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy. On December 8, 2011, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping attended an event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy between China and the United States. The event was organized by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the General Administration of Sport. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter attended the event and delivered speeches. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Yao Dawei

 I

The international situation has remained predominantly peaceful over the past year. Despite this, however, a series of major, challenging, and urgent events with far-reaching implications have emerged in rapid succession, and the instability of the international situation has been magnified. With the significantly accelerated pace of change in international relations and the international order, changes of global patterns and future trends of development are becoming increasingly apparent.

1. The international financial crisis has continued to deepen and the world economy is struggling to recover. The worsening sovereign debt crisis in some countries has undermined the global economic recovery and international financial stability in a number of aspects. The underlying impacts of the international financial crisis have continued to emerge, exposing deficiencies in global economic governance mechanisms and problems with the institutions, mechanisms, policies, ideas, and patterns of development of the relevant countries. The deepening of the crisis has even led to street demonstrations and protests in some countries. Major economies have seen a slowdown in economic growth, while emerging markets are being challenged by shrinking demand externally and growing inflation internally. Various forms of protectionism have also increased significantly. Lacking a new and powerful growth driver, the world economy is set to experience slow growth for a considerable period of time.

2. Regional turbulence and issues of major concern have emerged in close succession, having a strong impact on regional and international situations. Since the end of 2010 and the start of 2011, many countries in West Asia and North Africa have experienced and are continuing to experience dramatic political turbulence. This has caused a shift in the balance of power and the realignment of relations between countries in these regions. The process of re-establishing stability and order in these regions will be a long and tortuous one. There is still no solution in sight for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; the Iranian nuclear issue has resurfaced; and the reconstruction of Afghanistan has been riddled with difficulties. However, due to the joint efforts of all parties involved, the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula has been mitigated somewhat. Many countries have paid greater attention to non-traditional security issues, such as terrorism, energy security, cyber security, and the prevention of major natural disasters. Security issues have become increasingly unpredictable, transferable, and interconnected, highlighting the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to global security governance.

3. Various parties have devoted more attention and input to the Asia-Pacific region as the region’s strategic importance has continued to rise. The Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for 40% of the world’s population, 54% of the global economy, and 44% of international trade, has managed to maintain overall stability in a turbulent contemporary world. Emerging economies in this region are responsible for more than 60% of world economic growth, with regional and sub-regional cooperation currently witnessing vigorous development. The Asia-Pacific region is fast becoming the most dynamic and promising region in the world. As a meeting point of major forces from around the world, the Asia-Pacific region has received greater attention and input. This trend has added new complexity to the regional situation and regional relations, and has heralded shifts in the political landscape of the region. Though there are disputes between the countries of the region over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, the countries involved have always sought to resolve these disputes through dialogue and negotiation. Peace, stability, development, and cooperation continue to be the predominant trends in the region.

4. The international distribution of power has become more balanced and steady progress has been made in the reform of global governance mechanisms. Emerging markets and developing countries have maintained their rising momentum on the whole, and are becoming an important driving force behind the development of the international situation. Institutionalized cooperation between emerging countries, best represented by BRICS, has continued to deepen, playing an effective role in pushing forward South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue. The G20 has emerged as an important platform for global economic governance, allowing for a certain degree of progress to be made in the reform of international financial institutions and financial regulation. Despite this, however, it should be noted that global multi-polarization and the democratization of international relations will be a long and tortuous process.

 II

As we enter a new phase of the 21st century, diplomatic work will play an even greater role in China’s overall initiatives. Through these diplomatic initiatives, we must do more to support China’s overall reform, development, and stability; safeguard national sovereignty, security, and the development interests; and preserve the important period of strategic opportunity for development that China is currently enjoying.

1. We have worked to maintain the important period of strategic opportunities for China’s development by actively promoting and managing relations with various parties. We regard the first two decades of the 21st century as an important period of strategic opportunity for China’s development. Under this new situation, the fundamental task of our diplomatic work must be to secure this period of opportunity. Over the past year, President Hu Jintao, NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, CPPCC National Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin and other Party and state leaders have engaged in a number of major multilateral diplomatic activities and paid goodwill visits to major countries, neighboring countries, and developing countries. Productive summit diplomacy and high-level exchanges have boosted China’s friendly and cooperative ties with various countries. November represented a climax for China’s diplomacy in 2011, with President Hu attending the G20 Summit in Cannes and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Hawaii; and Premier Wen attending the Prime Ministers’ Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in St. Petersburg and the East Asian leaders’ meetings in Bali. Their successful participation in these summits helped to further enhance China’s standing and influence on the international stage. President Hu also paid a successful visit to the United States in 2011, with the two sides reaching an important consensus on building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. China and Russia are committed to establishing a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership characterized by equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity, and lasting friendship. China also made new progress in its relations with the EU and Japan, with pragmatic cooperation and cultural exchanges reaching new levels. In addition, China successfully hosted the Third BRICS Leaders Meeting, which served to enhance the coordination and cooperation between BRICS countries. China is committed to maintaining good relations with neighboring countries. By linking our own development more closely to the common development of neighboring countries, we have safeguarded the overall stability and development of the neighboring regions. China is already the largest trading partner of most of its neighboring countries, and is becoming the largest export market of an increasingly large number of countries. Never has China shared so profound common interests with other countries in the region. In line with the spirit of enterprise, openness, inclusiveness, and mutual assistance, China has made significant contributions to furthering the process of regional cooperation through platforms such as 10+1 (regional cooperation in East Asia involving the ten South-East Asian countries plus China), 10+3 (regional cooperation in East Asia involving the ten South-East Asian countries plus China, Japan and South Korea), SCO, APEC, and the East Asia Summit (EAS). China has promoted peace and facilitated nuclear talks with North Korea and Iran, supported the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and worked to ease tensions over regional hotspot issues. We have reached an agreement with ASEAN countries on the implementation of the follow-up guidelines of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), launched cooperative projects within the framework of the DOC, and announced the establishment of a three-billion-yuan China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund. This is an example of the positive role that China has played in maintaining stability in the South China Sea.

2. China’s diplomatic initiatives have served the central task of promoting development and ensuring stability. As a large developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, China’s priorities are to promote economic development, maintain social stability, and focus on its own affairs. Diplomatic work must comply with and serve these overall goals. Throughout the year 2011, the ongoing theme of our diplomatic initiatives was to facilitate a good start to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. In order to create a favorable external economic environment, we have made vigorous efforts to mitigate the impact of the international financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis in some countries on China. We have assisted the implementation of the “bringing in” and “going global” strategies, further deepened mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, and secured new progress in major cooperation projects pertaining to energy resources and cross-border infrastructure construction with countries in Eurasia, the Middle East and Latin America. We have enhanced macroeconomic policy coordination with other countries, worked together with the international community to support relevant countries in overcoming economic and financial difficulties, and participated in and guided the reform of the international system. We have also opposed various forms of protectionism, seeking to handle economic and trade friction in an appropriate manner.

3. We have firmly safeguarded national interests while strengthening common interests with other parties. The deepening and expansion of China’s shared interests with other countries have set higher requirements for our diplomatic work under new circumstances. The White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development, issued by the Chinese government, not only demonstrated our determination to safeguard China’s national interests, but also our commitment to expanding common interests with other parties. We have firmly safeguarded China’s national sovereignty, national security and national development interests, and resolutely opposed foreign interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of the Taiwan and Tibet issues. We have also been widely involved in international efforts to combat terrorism, piracy and cybercrime, working with other countries to address non-traditional security threats. Such efforts have included working with Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand to launch joint patrols along the Mekong River. In line with the principles of “putting people first and conducting diplomacy for the people,” we have responded to major emergencies around the world by safeguarding safety, legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese nationals and legal persons. Following the outbreak of unrest in West Asia and North Africa, China mounted a successful effort to evacuate Chinese nationals from the affected regions. Carried out under the unified leadership of the central government, these efforts involved the close coordination of diplomatic initiatives both in China and on the ground in the affected regions. A total of 35,860 Chinese nationals were evacuated from Libya alone, making this the largest organized evacuation of overseas Chinese nationals since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

4. We have made continuous efforts to safeguard world peace and promote common development, thereby further consolidating China’s sound international image. As a responsible member of the international community, China has always been a staunch force for world peace and common development. China has sent approximately 21,000 people on a total of 30 United Nations peacekeeping missions, making it the top contributor to peacekeeping operations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In light of China’s basic conditions and its status as a developing country, we have worked to safeguard the legitimate interests of developing countries in international and regional affairs, provided strong support for efforts to alleviate poverty and accelerate development in developing countries, and offered emergency food aid to African countries hit by serious famine. Adhering to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, we have respected and supported the efforts of countries in West Asia and North Africa to independently handle their domestic affairs, and identified our positions on Libya and Syria on the basis of the actual circumstances in each case. This approach has been met with the understanding and support of the international community. Based on the realization that soft power is increasingly becoming an important aspect of international competition, we have promoted cultural exchanges, mutual understanding and friendship between China and the rest of the world in an effort to constantly enhance the international appeal of Chinese culture. We have also engaged in public diplomacy in order to display China’s sincere dedication to peaceful development and the bright prospects of China’s development.

 III

The year 2012 will see even more profound changes in the international balance of power, the reform and adjustment of the international system, and the dynamics of international relations. Peace, development and cooperation, as the trends of the times, will gain greater traction. Despite this, however, there will continue to be a significant number of variables and uncertainties in the international situation, some predictable and others not. China’s status and role in international affairs will command greater attention among all parties, but we will also be confronted with more risks and challenges. However, on the whole, the opportunities will outweigh the challenges. We must adhere to the path of peaceful development, pursue an open strategy of mutual benefit, and promote the building of a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity.

We will enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation, properly handle differences, and promote the stable development of bilateral relations with major countries. For those countries that are scheduled to hold general elections, we need to make focused efforts to prevent domestic political factors in those countries from interfering with bilateral relations, thereby ensuring that bilateral relations can undergo a smooth transition and make fresh progress.

We will continue to follow the policy of fostering friendship and partnership with neighboring countries. By engaging in effective, solid, and pragmatic cooperation and developing mechanisms for mutual benefit, we must raise the level of cooperation with neighboring countries, increase trust and dispel mistrust, and consolidate the role of neighboring countries in supporting China’s national strategies.

We will make good use of high-level exchanges with other developing countries and utilize platforms such as the China-Africa and China-Arab Cooperation Forums to enhance our solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries. These efforts should be made with a view to increasing the fundamental importance of developing countries in China’s overall diplomatic work.

We will make full use of China’s hosting of the SCO Summit Meeting and the meeting of the leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as Chinese leaders’ participation in multilateral summits, to give play to China’s role as a large responsible country on the stage of multilateral diplomacy.

We will continue to participate in international cooperation to address the financial crisis, promote cooperation with relevant countries in fiscal, financial, economic, trade and investment areas, and work for the robust, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy.

We will conduct public and people-to-people diplomacy through multiple channels, in various forms and at different levels, and promote cultural exchanges with other countries. We need to safeguard China’s overseas interests by improving our mechanisms and capacity for overseas consular protection.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.1, 2012)

Author: Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China

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