Xi’s for­eign pol­icy is no se­cret China pro­motes mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion to help re­al­ize the dreams of dif­fer­ent peo­ples and does not seek hege­mony

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Is Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s for­eign pol­icy re­ally amys­tery, as some for­eign me­dia seem to think? Ever since Xi be­came China’s se­nior leader in Novem­ber 2012, Western an­a­lysts have been try­ing to get the mea­sure of the man, par­tic­u­larly his vi­sion of China’s in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

There is lit­tle doubt that Xi is China’s strong­est leader in a gen­er­a­tion, and that Xi’s China has en­acted a more proac­tive for­eign pol­icy: en­hanc­ing re­la­tions with Africa, strength­en­ing the strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia, em­pha­siz­ing ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South and East China seas, propos­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a Silk Road eco­nomic belt and a mar­itime Silk Road for the 21st century, so­lid­i­fy­ing re­la­tions with Europe, and call­ing for a “new kind of big power re­la­tion­ship” with the United States.

At the just con­cluded fourth sum­mit of the Con­fer­ence on In­ter­ac­tion and Con­fi­dence Build­ingMea­sures in Asia, Xi met with the heads of al­most ev­ery Asian na­tion, which in­cluded a high-pro­file joint dec­la­ra­tion with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and the sign­ing of a huge gas deal with Rus­sia. Speak­ing with UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon, Xi said, “Dis­plays of power and pres­sure and the use of ex­ter­nal force are not ac­cept­able.”

In his key­note ad­dress, Xi said China is a strong cham­pion of the Asian se­cu­rity con­cept and is work­ing to put it into prac­tice.

While some may ques­tion China’s deep in­tent, Xi’s diplo­matic phi­los­o­phy is hardly a se­cret. It was prom­i­nent in hisMay 15 speech cel­e­brat­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of the Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries (un­der­re­ported in global me­dia).

Xi be­gan by “pay­ing trib­ute” to for­eign friends who helped China’s con­struc­tion and re­form, who did China “the small­est fa­vor”. (China is in­deed loyal to its friends, even when they re­tire from power or fall from grace, like for­mer US pres­i­dent Richard Nixon and for­mer Ja­panese prime min­is­ter Kakuei Tanaka, both of whom re-opened re­la­tions with China.)

Xi out­lined the key fea­tures of global af­fairs: a mul­ti­po­lar world, eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion, in­for­ma­tion so­ci­ety, con­verg­ing in­ter­ests, and com­mu­nity of des­tiny.

He lauded tol­er­ance as a “virtue”, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing di­ver­sity. He pledged China would be “fully open” and he pro­moted “mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries”.

Xi re­jected the so-called “China threat” as “mis­lead­ing”, hav­ing been founded on “deeply rooted prej­u­dices”. He stressed that China has al­ways been a peace-lov­ing na­tion and Chi­nese cul­ture ad­vo­cates har­mony; that China suf­fered trag­i­cally from for­eign ag­gres­sion and Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy does not im­pose on oth­ers. Chi­nese pa­tri­o­tism “de­fends the home­land,” Xi said, but does not colo­nial­ize— the Silk Road ex­em­pli­fies East-West ex­changes for mu­tual ben­e­fit. Re­it­er­at­ing a fa­mil­iar theme, Xi vowed that no mat­ter how pow­er­ful China be­comes, China will never seek hege­mony over oth­ers.

He said his­tory tells us that war is like the devil and a nightmare for all peo­ples, yet the world to­day is dan­ger­ous and in many coun­tries wars rage or sim­mer. China will ac­tively as­sume more in­ter­na­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity, with other coun­tries, to jointly fa­cil­i­tate set­tle­ment of hotspot is­sues, sup­port peace­keep­ing, and re­spond to hu­man­i­tar­ian crises. China, Xi pledged, will con­tinue to deal with con­flicts and dif­fer­ences through di­a­logue based on equal­ity and pa­tience.

Xi called for more mul­ti­chan­nel, mul­ti­level ex­changes be­tween peo­ples, such as sis­ter cities, cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, civil diplo­macy be­tween non-govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, and pub­lic diplo­macy among di­verse peo­ples, to pro­mote mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and learn­ing. Xi called for “good Chi­nese voices” telling “good Chi­nese sto­ries” to show the world the true China in a mul­tidi­men­sional way.

China seeks ways to unify the di­verse dreams of dif­fer­ent peo­ples, pro­mot­ing global peace and hu­man de­vel­op­ment. But this will not be easy, he cau­tioned. China, he said, has ma­jor chal­lenges and should learn from the achieve­ments of other coun­tries.

Much of the world re­mains wary. Some won­der what to make of a peace­fully de­vel­op­ing China as seen through the prism of in­ten­si­fied claims and in­ci­dents in the South and East China seas. Sovereignty, from China’s per­spec­tive, is a highly charged is­sue, as it is in most coun­tries, but es­pe­cially in light of China’s century-long op­pres­sion by for­eign pow­ers. That said, all coun­tries should fear the per­ils of trip­ping over small hur­dles.

So should we take Xi’s for­eign pol­icy phi­los­o­phy at face value? I think so, for three rea­sons: first, we must es­chew self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cies of sus­pi­cion and re­tal­i­a­tion; sec­ond, China has huge do­mes­tic chal­lenges and in­ter­na­tional ten­sions are dis­rup­tive; and third, Xi has gen­er­ated gen­uine good­will abroad, so it would make no sense to un­der­mine his own lead­er­ship by mak­ing state­ments that turn out to be false.

It is China’s in­ter­est to help se­cure global peace and sta­bil­ity and to pro­mote global de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity. China must play an in­creas­ingly ac­tive role in the new world or­der. The au­thor is an in­ter­na­tional cor­po­rate strate­gist and po­lit­i­cal/eco­nom­ics com­men­ta­tor. He is the au­thor ofHow China’s Lead­ers Think and a bi­og­ra­phy of for­mer pres­i­dent Jiang Zemin.

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