Com­mon des­tiny needs sta­bil­ity

Strate­gic fo­cus of China’s for­eign pol­icy is con­sol­i­dat­ing friendly co­op­er­a­tion and se­cu­rity with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - ZHAO KE JIN The au­thor is deputy di­rec­tor of Center for US-China Re­la­tions, Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

As China seeks a more bal­anced diplo­matic ap­proach af­ter decades of en­hanced ex­changes with Western pow­ers, it should pay more at­ten­tion to its Asian neigh­bors. Af­ter the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949, the fo­cus of the na­tion’s for­eign strat­egy was to lean to the Soviet Union and other so­cial­ist coun­tries. Later on, with the wors­en­ing of re­la­tions with the Soviet Union, Bei­jing ad­justed its strate­gic fo­cus to strengthen unity and co­op­er­a­tion with Third World coun­tries in Asia, Africa and Latin Amer­ica.

Af­ter the launch of re­form and open­ing-up, China be­gan en­gag­ing with the West, first with the United States, and ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the glob­al­iza­tion process, on the ba­sis of en­hanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion with de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, to cre­ate a fa­vor­able in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment for the coun­try’s mod­ern­iza­tion drive. Keep­ing a low pro­file strate­gi­cally and con­cen­trat­ing on eco­nomic con­struc­tion were the main­stays of China’s diplo­macy.

In re­cent years, how­ever, China’s eco­nomic rise has brought the coun­try not only con­fi­dence and global in­flu­ence, but also sus­pi­cions about its strate­gic in­ten­tions from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries that have ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with China. More­over, the US’ re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy in the Asi­aPa­cific has added to the strate­gic pres­sure China faces.

In the face of the com­plex and pro­found do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional changes that have taken place in re­cent years, how to pro­vide strate­gic and in­sti­tu­tional backup for China’s grow­ing in­flu­ence and cre­ate a fa­vor­able in­ter­na­tional and re­gional en­vi­ron­ment for China’s peace­ful de­vel­op­ment have be­come press­ing prob­lems, which re­quire China to make ad­just­ments to its diplo­matic strat­egy mak­ing neigh­bor­ing re­gions the fo­cus.

If China can take the ini­tia­tive and un­der­take sound diplo­matic work in neigh­bor­ing re­gions and con­sol­i­date its friendly co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, Bei­jing will not have to fear any mount­ing pres­sure from the US or any other coun­try.

At a con­fer­ence held in Oc­to­ber on diplo­macy, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said that the neigh­bor­ing re­gion has ma­jor strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance and deal­ing with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries should have a three-di­men­sional, multi-el­e­ment per­spec­tive, be­yond time and space.

A three-di­men­sional per­spec­tive means strength­en­ing top-level de­sign and strate­gic plan­ning and pro­mot­ing the deep­en­ing of both of­fi­cial and peo­ple-to-peo­ple friendly ex­changes, so as to build a three­d­i­men­sional diplo­matic net­work that con­sol­i­dates the strate­gic and so­cial foun­da­tion of re­la­tions be­tween China and neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

A multi-el­e­ment per­spec­tive means work­ing out mea­sures that suit lo­cal con­di­tions and striv­ing for a sound re­gional en­vi­ron­ment in an ac­tive and well-ad­vised way. In North­east Asia, the pri­or­ity is to main­tain peace and sta­bil­ity on the Korean Penin­sula — ef­forts should be made to restart the Six-Party Talks — and the es­tab­lish­ment of a free trade area cov­er­ing China, Ja­pan and the Repub­lic of Korea. In South­east Asia, on the ba­sis of tak­ing into full con­sid­er­a­tion re­gional diver­sity, ef­forts will be made to has­ten in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity by es­tab­lish­ing a new mar­itime “Silk Road” and the Trans-Asian Rail­way and prop­erly han­dling dis­putes in the South China Sea. In Cen­tral Asia, the fo­cus will be on strength­en­ing the strate­gic part­ner­ship with Rus­sia, es­tab­lish­ing a Silk Road eco­nomic belt and en­hanc­ing the role of the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion. To the west, the fo­cus will be on strength­en­ing strate­gic co­or­di­na­tion and prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion with In­dia, and the con­struc­tion of the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, In­dia and Myan­mar) eco­nomic cor­ri­dor and the China-Pak­istan eco­nomic cor­ri­dor.

Be­yond time and space means that while car­ry­ing out diplo­macy with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries the over­all do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional sit­u­a­tions must be taken into full ac­count. Xi stressed the ne­ces­sity of good diplo­matic work in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries to re­al­ize the “cen­te­nary goals” of a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety by 2021 and a strong, mod­ern so­cial­ist coun­try by 2049.

In the near fu­ture, China’s pe­riph­ery strat­egy should fo­cus on four as­pects. The first is main­tain­ing over­all peace and sta­bil­ity in neigh­bor­ing re­gions. Bei­jing will con­tinue to seek a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with some of its neigh­bors through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion, though it will also op­pose any party’s provoca­tive acts that stir up trou­ble in the re­gion.

The sec­ond is cre­at­ing a neigh­bor­ing geo-eco­nomic cir­cle fea­tur­ing mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion and form­ing crossed eco­nomic cor­ri­dors from south to north and west to east. On the ba­sis of has­ten­ing in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity and in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, China will work with its neigh­bors to build an over­all open­ing-up pat­tern.

The third is to cre­ate a com­mon se­cu­rity cir­cle in neigh­bor­ing re­gions and ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in re­gional and sub-re­gional se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, and en­hance co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms and strate­gic mu­tual trust. China will con­tinue to pur­sue an in­de­pen­dent pol­icy of peace and ad­here to a se­cu­rity con­cept fea­tur­ing mu­tual trust, mu­tual ben­e­fit, equal­ity and co­or­di­na­tion, and pro­mote se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, and pos­i­tively pro­vide pub­lic prod­ucts for re­gional se­cu­rity to cre­ate a re­gional com­mon se­cu­rity cir­cle.

The fourth is to es­tab­lish a com­mu­nity of com­mon des­tiny and pro­mote friendly ex­changes through var­i­ous chan­nels, cul­ti­vate more friends and part­ners and share weal and woe with them.

The re­al­iza­tion of the Chi­nese Dream is closely re­lated to the as­pi­ra­tion of all peo­ples in all coun­tries for a bet­ter life and re­gional pros­per­ity. With the sense of com­mon des­tiny tak­ing root with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and greater in­te­gra­tion of in­ter­ests, China’s pe­riph­ery diplo­macy will em­brace a bright fu­ture and China’s de­vel­op­ment will of­fer more ben­e­fit to its neigh­bors and make them feel safe.

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