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Neighborhood diplomacy still China’s priority

Author  :  ZHANG JUNRONG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-03-28

Being committed to building friendships and partnerships with its neighboring countries, China aims to create an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood under the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.

The Belt and Road (B&R) initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank proposed by China are committed to working with other Asian countries to solve the problems facing the region and developing together in the spirit of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. Experts shed light on the new features of and new achievements in China’s peripheral diplomacy.

Xu Liping, a research fellow from the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that humanistic diplomacy is an important approach for China’s neighborhood diplomacy in the new era. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China’s humanistic diplomacy towards neighboring countries has achieved rapid development and made outstanding contributions to the formation of a peaceful and stable environment between China and its neighboring countries.

Xu continued that China’s humanistic diplomacy towards neighboring countries has huge potential in the new era and needs to be strengthened at the theoretical level. At the same time, at the practical level, it is necessary to establish a more flexible, operational and evaluable mechanism to truly revitalize China’s humanistic diplomacy towards neighboring countries.

Lu Guangsheng, a professor from the Center for China’s Neighborhood Diplomacy at Yunnan University, said that China’s diplomatic work in Southeast Asia has made progress in recent years. The bilateral economic and trade relations have continued to deepen, political relations have continued to reach new heights, and cooperation on defense has made breakthroughs. The regional comprehensive economic partnership has also entered the final stage of negotiations.

Guo Rui, a professor from the School of Public Administration at Jilin University, said that China and West-Asian countries have achieved new cooperative achievements in the fields of politics, economy, diplomacy and the humanities. In the future, China should actively promote the construction of the B&R.

China has always placed its periphery at the forefront of its overall diplomatic situation and regarded promoting peace, stability and development in the surrounding areas as its mission. China promotes the development of a global governance system in a more just and rational direction, facilitates the democratization of international relations, advocates the establishment of a new type of international relations centered on cooperation and mutual benefit, and supports the building of a community of shared future for humanity, all starting from its periphery.

Some scholars have said that the B&R is a response to the requirements of the times and the desire of countries to accelerate development, and thus it provides an inclusive development platform with deep historical roots and is able to bring together the fast-growing Chinese economy with the interests of various countries.

In recent years, the situation in Central Asia has been generally stable, and countries have concentrated on developing their own economies and handling relations with major countries steadily, said Zhang Ning, a research fellow from the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at CASS. The economies of Central Asian countries have bottomed out and are slowly climbing while maintaining their growth momentum.

The relationship between China and Central Asia has continued to develop, mutual political trust has been deepened, regional security has been effectively maintained and the construction of the B&R has been steadily advanced, Zhang concluded.

Dong Shuhui, counselor of the Asia Department at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and a key year for the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan. In the next step, neighborhood diplomacy should continue to be centered on building a community of shared future within the neighborhood, facilitate security and development, and coordinate regional cooperation in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for China’s Relations with Neighboring Countries at Fudan University, said that peripheral diplomacy is still the top priority of China’s overall diplomatic situation, and that multilateral cooperation is the main direction of future cooperation in the neighborhood.

Editor: Yu Hui

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