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China’s major-country diplomacy has distinctive connotations

Author  :  Qin Yaqing     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2017-09-11

A six-episode political documentary Major-Country Diplomacy summarizing the achievements of China’s diplomacy over the past five years stirred heated discussion after it aired on CCTV recently. As someone who works on the frontlines of China’s diplomacy, I felt so inspired by the documentary. It outlines the theoretical framework of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and demonstrates the grand practice of China’s diplomacy in the New Period. At the same time, it reflects how the world has actively responded to a series of visions and scenarios proposed by China such as the community of common destiny and the “Belt and Road” initiative.

The documentary offers an opportunity for academia to ponder over and explore the ideological connotations of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. 

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, major-country diplomatic thinking with Chinese characteristics has been the guiding principle for diplomatic practice. China’s views of the world order, international responsibility and national interest are the salient components of the concept.

China’s perspective of the world order is rooted in the tenets and principles of the UN Charter. The UN’s objective is to maintain the general stability and sustainability of the international order and to promote a new type of international relations. As the cornerstone of the post-World War II international order, the UN system has played a vital role in upholding global peace and stability. Today, the concepts presented in the UN Charter convey an ever more important meaning. By upholding UN authority and its institutional system, China safeguards the general stability and sustainability of the basic world order. 

China has never sought to establish a new international system. Instead, it endorses reasonable reforms and improvements of ineffective systems and mechanisms. China advocates a new model of international relations based on peace, democracy and cooperation. It considers multilateralism to be the fundamental foundation of a functioning world order. China hopes to end hegemony, power politics and other irrational elements that disrupt traditional international politics. It encourages pluralistic interaction and mutual learning among different cultures with different values.

Moreover, based on fairness, equality and justice, China adopts cooperation and mutual benefit as its guiding principles. Its primary concern is the interests of the developing countries while its ultimate objective is to build a community of common destiny. 

China has long upheld the values of friendship, justice and shared interests. It has put forward the keywords for diplomacy with its neighbors, including amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. In conducting its relations with African countries, it adheres to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith. Through initiatives like the “Belt and Road” and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China shows its sense of responsibility as a major country by offering public goods to the international community and demonstrates special concern for developing countries by helping build their infrastructure and economies. Confronted with today’s world in which populism, trade protectionism, and racialism pose severe challenges, China unswervingly supports an open world economic system and actively engages in global governance.

Last, China’s views defend three core elements of national interest—sovereignty, security and development. China is determined to safeguard such core national interests, and political security is the prerequisite. Maintain the fundamental Chinese systems and political stability, preserve national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and ensure economic stability—these are the three components of the core national interest. It is also based on these three fundamental connotations that the country’s views of national interest are formed. 


Qin Yaqing is the president of China Foreign Affairs University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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