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Chinese diplomacy is embracing new transitions

Author  :  Jin Canrong     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-01-02

The 19th CPC National Congress proposed a comprehensive strategy of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, thus advancing China’s diplomatic agenda in a multileveled, multifaceted way and creating a favorable external environment for China’s development. In the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping put forward this epochal topic based on the new international situations and China’s development needs.

Major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics is the new starting point of Chinese diplomacy. Concretely speaking, this can be seen in the country’s new orientation, style, concept, strategy, manner and practice for global governance. Chinese diplomacy has embarked on a new path that offers Chinese wisdom and solutions to the problems facing mankind. This path can be seen in the following emerging features. 

The first is a new orientation. Since the founding of New China, China has maintained a low profile when positioning itself in world affairs. Its diplomacy has consisted of four elements: economically, it is defined as a developing country; politically, it is under the leadership of the Communist Party of China; the country faces the problem of national secession—the Taiwan Issue; and geographically speaking, it is a regional power in East Asia. In the 18th CPC National Congress, Xi redefined the orientation of Chinese diplomacy, which will henceforth focus on building major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. This means that the country’s diplomacy is entering a crucial stage of transition toward a type of diplomacy that is globally influential.

The second is a new style. With the new orientation, comes a series of changes to the country’s diplomatic style. During the more than three decades that followed the founding of New China, the style of Chinese diplomacy could be characterized as reactive, while today’s major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, which is continuously making progress, embodies distinctive features. This is demonstrated by the fact that China boldly and firmly responded to international events that pertained to vital national interest and proposed Chinese initiatives in reaction to major international issues in the past five years. 

The third are new concepts. The highest level of concepts proposed include the proposal of a community of a shared future for mankind, and the advocacy of a new type of international relations for a global partnership network and an open world economy. The second level of concepts are relatively concrete, like a new type of China-US international relations; the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness guiding China’s neighborhood diplomacy; the proposal of upholding friendship and justice and shared interests for developing countries; the new Asian security concept put forward to tackle the complex security challenges facing the continent.

The fourth are new strategies. The “Belt and Road” initiative; the construction of a new international finance system, which includes new institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, the Silk Road Fund and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, and regional cooperative strategies on a smaller scale, such as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework, and cooperation based on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 

The fifth is a new manner. China actively participates in the peacekeeping operations and other global affairs, counters pirate attacks off the coastal waters of Somalia, and strives for more voting rights in the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board decided to include the Chinese currency in its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket, marking a milestone in the globalization of the RMB. At the same time, China advocates and fosters the establishment of new institutions of global governance. In addition to the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank, China also hosted the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

The sixth is new practice. China is building healthy and stable relations with the major countries by developing its relations with the United States, Russia and Europe; it is fostering friendly cooperation with neighboring countries and stabilizing relations; it is also strengthening solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries for a global partnership network. 

With a commitment to achieving common development and shared growth through joint consultation, China advocates the democratization of international relations, supports an active role for the United Nations in international affairs, and supports the efforts of other developing countries to increase their representation and strengthen their voices in international affairs. China will continue to play its part as a major and responsible country, take an active part in reforming and developing the global governance system, and continue to contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to global governance.


Jin Canrong is a professor from the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China.

Editor: Yu Hui

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