The Great Historic Journey of Chinese Diplomacy
The establishment of the People’s Republic of China was a remarkable event in the 20th century. It ended a century of backwardness and humiliation for the Chinese nation, and opened up a new era in Chinese history and changed the course of world history. As the People’s Republic of China has strived to continually move forward, its international status and influence have been constantly strengthened, and it has become an important force for maintaining and promoting world peace and development. “Never forget why you started, and you can accomplish your mission.” This paper is aimed at reviewing the hardships of yesterday as evidenced by the magnificent history of New China’s diplomacy, so that we can be more aware of the responsibility and mission of today and live up to the dream and pursuit of a better tomorrow.
Mao: Leading New China to Rise Victorious in the World
The source of diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China can be traced back to the Yan’an Period.
Origin of New China’s diplomacy
“Start of our diplomatic work.” At the moment of national crisis that China suffered due to Japanese invasion, the Wayaobao Meeting of the
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held at the end of 1935 formulated the policy of establishing a national united front of resistance against Japanese aggression. After the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941, the United States and China became wartime allies. While the Kuomintang (KMT) government clung to the policy of “stabilizing domestic situation before resisting all-out against foreign aggression,” the CPC Central Committee advocated a broad “Pacific united front against Japanese and fascist invasion.”
Pressured by the United States, who believed that the deterioration of KMT-CPC relations was not conducive to the war against Japan, Chiang Kai-shek accepted the US request of sending military observers to Yan’an to seek a solution to the conflict between the two parties. Between July and August 1944, the US Army Observation Group “Dixie Mission” arrived in Yan’an in two batches. Chairman Mao Zedong finalized an editorial for the Jiefang Ribao (Liberation Daily), and added the word “Comrades” in the original title, making it “Welcome Our Comrades of the US Army Observation Group.” On August 18 the same year, the CPC Central Committee issued the Instructions on Diplomatic Work, which regarded the visit of the US observation group as “the beginning of our international united front and the start of our diplomatic work.”
Two important guidelines. During Patrick J. Hurley’s term as US ambassador to China from 1944 to 1945, the US policy of “supporting Chiang Kai-shek and opposing the CPC” gradually took shape. With the change in the international situation after the war, the proposal of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 and the Marshall Plan in 1948, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union emerged, and the US began to implement a “containment” policy against communism.
After the decisive Liaoshen, Huaihai and Pingjin campaigns, China’s revolutionary situation came to a historic turning point. Around the Second Plenary Session of the 7th CPC Central Committee in 1949, Mao Zedong analyzed the complex international environment facing China, and
combined the principle-oriented approach with flexibility: as long as the imperialists “do not change their attitude of hostility, we will not give the imperialist countries legitimate status in China;” at the same time, “China should also do business with capitalist countries.” In this regard, he proposed two important guidelines: “set up a separate kitchen” and “sweep the house clean before inviting guests.” “Set up a separate kitchen” means the People’s Republic of China would not recognize the old diplomatic ties between the Kuomintang government and other countries. Rather, the New China would “establish diplomatic relations on a new basis.” “Sweep the house clean before inviting guests” was proposed because “the imperialists have always wanted to keep some of their privileges in China,” and thus the New China “must clean the house before new ties are built.”
Leaning to the socialist camp. As the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) crossed the Yangtze River and liberated Nanking (Nanjing) in April 1949, Mao Zedong instructed the army that the PLA should protect the British and American people and diplomats. “If the United States and Britain can sever relations with Kuomintang, we can consider establishing diplomatic relations with them.” Mao Zedong also authorized a direct contact with then US Ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart, but the US State Department warned the Ambassador against a visit to Peiping (Beijing).
In the absence of US recognition, the CPC made progress in its relations with the Soviet Communist Party. At the end of January 1949, Anastas Mikoyan, member of the Party’s Politiburo, visited the CPC Central Committee in Xibaipo. In late June, Liu Shaoqi led a secret delegation to the Soviet Union, where Stalin indicated he would “immediately recognize the government” and provide assistance upon the founding of New China.
On June 30, 1949, in his article “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship,” Mao Zedong clearly put forward the policy of “leaning to one side,” which indicated that the New China would firmly stand by the
side of the socialist camp. The policy had two implications: first, China would establish a “country of people’s democratic dictatorship based on the union of workers and peasants,” and follow a socialist path; second, China would “unite the Soviet Union, other people’s democratic countries, and the proletariat and masses of other countries to form an international united front.” This policy, together with “set up a separate kitchen” and “sweep the house clean before inviting guests,” are called the three major diplomatic guidelines in the early years of New China.
Resolutely defending national independence and sovereignty
With the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the Chinese history entered a new era, and China’s diplomacy opened a new chapter. In the first year after its founding, the PRC established diplomatic relations with 17 countries.
In December 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai visited the Soviet Union. On February 14, 1950, the Sino-soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance was signed, marking the formal implementation of the “leaning to one side” policy. The treaty not only enhanced the strength of the international socialist camp and the friendly cooperation between the two countries, but also laid the foundation for large-scale economic construction of New China.
With the announcement on October 3, 1949 that it would continue to recognize the Kuomintang authority, the US government had attempted to sow discord between China and the Soviet Union, and adopted an attitude of “waiting for the dust to settle.” However, with the signing of the Sino-soviet Treaty, the US illusion of interfering the bilateral relationship was broken. As the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950 in which the United States expanded its operations and decided to send its Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait, Chinese leaders resolutely made the strategic decision to join the war on the Korean Peninsula. With China and the US in direct military confrontation, the Us-led Western bloc carried out
political isolation, economic blockade and military encirclement against the PRC.
One important reason for the deterioration of China-us relations was the gross interference of the United States on the Taiwan issue, which belongs to China’s internal affairs, and thus the focus of China’s struggle against the US was to safeguard the independence of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. As early as before the CPC’S victory in the Chinese Civil War, the US had drawn up plans of “separation” and “trusteeship” to prevent Taiwan from falling into the CPC’S hands. It was only for fear of the political implications that President Truman issued a “no intervention” statement in January 1950, and decided to wait and see. When the Korean War broke out and provided the US with the chance and excuse to encroach on Taiwan, the White House finally adopted Douglas Macarthur’s view of Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” and brazenly sent the US fleet into the Taiwan Strait. At the United Nations and on other international occasions, the Chinese government solemnly exposed the acts of American aggression and directly confronted with the United States. The Taiwan issue thus became the biggest source of antagonism between China and the US.
In September 1954, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army bombarded Kinmen Island. This move was a wise application of the saying in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War that “The highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans.” It was aimed at preventing Taiwan from becoming an unsalvageable problem, and opposing the US conspiracy to create de facto “two Chinas.” After that, the US and Taiwan concluded a mutual defense treaty, but their relationship that mixed conflicts and collusion remained. When the United States once again intervened in China’s internal affairs in 1958, the CPC Central Committee, under the decision to “leave Chiang Kai-shek in Kinmen and Matsu,” adopted the strategy of “negotiation while fighting” and “fighting with ceasefires” and foiled the brinksmanship by the US Secretary of State John Dulles.
Independence, self-reliance and peaceful co-existence
The PRC’S diplomatic goal has always been to establish international relations in which all countries, regardless of size, are equal members of the international community. In December 1953, in a meeting with the visiting Indian delegation, Premier Zhou Enlai put forward for the first time the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, namely, mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, noninterference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence. In April 1954, the Chinese and Indian governments agreed to incorporate the Five Principles in the communiqué and the Chinaindia Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India, and took it as a guideline for relations between the two countries. In June the same year, when Premier Zhou visited India and Burma, the above principles were written into the joint statement with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Burmese Prime Minister U Nu, in which it was confirmed that these principles were applicable to relations between Asian countries and between countries in the rest of the world.
In April 1955, the Asian-african Conference (known as the Bandung Conference) was held in Bandung, Indonesia. This was the first international conference held by 29 Asian and African countries and regions without the participation of Western colonial powers. Premier Zhou led a Chinese delegation to the meeting. At the conference, China adhered to the policy of “seeking common ground while putting aside difference,” made great efforts in enhancing mutual trust and removing misgivings, and frustrated the US attempt to divide the participants. The Conference adopted the Declaration on Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation, which listed ten principles in handling international relations covering the entire Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. In 1957, Chairman Mao solemnly proclaimed in Moscow that China firmly advocated all countries follow the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. From the end of 1963 to the beginning of 1964,
Premier Zhou visited 14 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, and proposed eight principles guiding China’s economic assistance, extending the five principles to the economic field.
While New China carried out the “leaning to one side” policy, it always adhered to the approach of independence and self-reliance. Mao clearly pointed out that China must walk with its own legs. Zhou also stressed that although China’s alliance with the Soviet Union was necessary to resist US aggression and threats, China should not give up the independence of the Party and the country. Looking back on the process of alliancebuilding between China and the Soviet Union, China has always insisted on safeguarding its sovereignty and the independence of the CPC, and resisted and fought against great-power chauvinism. After the events of Poland and Hungary in 1956, the CPC Central Committee, in accordance with Mao’s instructions, stressed that the principle of independence and equality should be followed between the Communist parties and that the socialist countries should also implement the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence have demonstrated strong vitality, and they have been widely accepted by the international community and included in a number of international treaties and documents. From the late 1950s to the late 1960s, China established formal relations with more countries and embraced a second wave of new diplomatic ties. In the 1970s, the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order were adopted by the UN General Assembly. Both of them incorporated the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
Strategic design of “One Line and a Vast Area”
The development of international relations follows the Chinese saying that goes “The world, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide.” After World War II, the international structure was reorganized and the Yalta
system was formed. The establishment of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in 1955 marked the formation of a bipolar pattern. From the founding of New China to the late 1960s, New China belonged to the socialist camp in the confrontation between the two sides.
However, conflicts between the Soviet Communist Party and the CPC gradually intensified as the former pursued great-power chauvinism while the latter regarded the principle of independence and self-reliance as its lifeline. In July 1960, the Soviet Union unilaterally withdrew 1,390 of its experts in China, tearing up over 600 agreements and contracts. China responded with the policy of “fighting against unfair treatment while leaving room for improvement of relations.” However, the Soviet leaders still acted at will. At the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee in September 1962, the CPC decided to fight against both imperialism and modern revisionism. “Combating revisionism together with imperialism” became China’s basic diplomatic strategy, commonly known as “striking out with two fists.” In March 1969, after the outbreak of the “Zhenbao Island incident,” the Soviet Union sent a great number of troops to the Sino-soviet border and threatened to destroy China’s nuclear base, which amounted to a threat of war. It was in September that year when Premier Zhou met with the Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin at Beijing Airport that the two sides reached an understanding of maintaining the current situation on the border and preventing conflict.
In the same period, the United States was trapped in the Vietnam War and faced with both internal and external problems. “The Nixon Doctrine” came into being in this context. To guarantee the strategic priority of Europe amidst the competition with the Soviet Union for hegemony, the US President Richard Nixon sought to get away from Indochina and achieve the so-called balance of power diplomacy. In an article written for Foreign Affairs in October 1967, Nixon said, “Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations.” The meaningful remark was acutely noticed by Mao Zedong.
The broken Sino-soviet relations thus became a catalyst for closer relations between China and the United States. In the spring of 1969, under Mao’s instructions and with the specific arrangements of Zhou Enlai, the four generals Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Xu Xiangqian and Nie Rongzhen were tasked to “analyze the international situation,” who later submitted the reports Preliminary Estimation of the War Situation and Opinions on the Current Situation. The reports made the strategic analysis that the Chinasoviet conflicts were greater than the China-us conflicts, and that the Ussoviet conflicts were greater than the China-soviet conflicts, which provided reference for breaking the ice between China and the US.
In order to find a solution to the situation that China was caught in the power struggle between the two superpowers, Mao Zedong took a farsighted and comprehensive decision: to establish an anti-hegemonism “united front” extending from China through the Middle East to Western Europe, through the Atlantic to Canada and the United States, and then through the Pacific to Japan, including Australia and New Zealand, and then rally a wide range of Asian, African and Latin American countries along the lines. This is the strategic diplomatic thought of “One Line and a Vast Area.” In the words of Chen Yi, “This move has made a big difference to the chess game.”
In April 1971, the US table tennis team successfully visited China, and “the small ball spins the big globe.” In July the same year, the US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made a secret visit to China. In February 1972, President Nixon visited China, and Mao Zedong held a historic meeting with him. The publication of the Shanghai Communiqué marks the normalization of China-us relations, and China’s diplomacy achieved another major strategic adjustment.
On October 25, 1971, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to restore all the legitimate rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. After that, China established diplomatic ties with most Western countries, reaching the
third climax of its new diplomatic ties. China fulfilled its duties within the framework of the United Nations, and made unremitting efforts to realize the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, safeguard world peace, promote friendly cooperation and advance human progress. In the 1970s, under the guidance of Mao Zedong’s strategic thinking of “two middle zones,” China continued to strengthen relations with other developing countries and actively promoted relations with Western European countries. China’s trade relations and non-governmental exchanges with Japan developed greatly, which contributed to the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Deng: Launching the Independent Foreign Policy of Peace
In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping led another major adjustment of China’s diplomacy, and launched China’s independent foreign policy of peace. This policy not only clarified the direction of China’s diplomacy, but also made a great contribution to world peace.
Peace and development becoming themes of the times
Major changes in domestic and international situation. In 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee made a strategic decision to shift the Party’s work focus to the socialist modernization drive. In 1982, the Twelfth CPC Congress identified three major tasks facing China in the new historical period: to step up socialist modernization; strive to achieve Taiwan’s reunification with the motherland domestically; and to fight against hegemonism and safeguard world peace internationally. In 1987, the Thirteenth Party Congress formulated the basic line of “One Central Task and Two Basic Points,” and the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new historical stage, establishing the grand goal of “three stages of China’s economic construction.”
During this period, the international situation had also witnessed
many changes. Due to the stagnation of domestic industrial development, poor agricultural harvest, diplomatic isolation and other reasons, the Soviet Union’s external expansion suffered setbacks, and gradually turned from aggressive and offensive to defensive. Meanwhile, the United States posture gradually turned from defensive to offensive. And different from the policy of “easing tensions” during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the Ronald Reagan administration stressed “strength for peace” and “restoration of US strategic deterrence” to combat the expansionism of the Soviet Union. As a result, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union entered into a strategic situation in which each country made defensive and offensive moves, resulting in gains and losses. Western Europe, Japan and developing countries became independent forces and played an increasingly important role in the international arena, and the global political pattern gradually changed from bipolar to multi-polar.
Adjustment of China’s diplomatic strategy. According to the development and changes in the situations at home and abroad, China carried out some strategic adjustments in its diplomacy. Chinese leaders believed that the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union was relatively mitigated. With the two sides having both competition and dialogue, the world could expect peace to be maintained. Since China was a big country with a quarter of the world’s population and had become an important force independent of the US and the Soviet Union, China’s alliance and establishment of strategic relations with either the US or the Soviet Union would be bound to affect the world’s strategic balance, which was not conducive to international stability. In this context, it was no longer appropriate for China to continue to pursue the “One Line” strategy.
China’s adjustment of its diplomatic strategy was aimed at creating long-term peace and stability in the international and surrounding environment for its modernization drive. “The goal of China’s foreign policy is to strive for world peace. In the premise of world peace, China will wholeheartedly engage in modernization, the development of itself, and the
building of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” After that adjustment, China’s foreign policy has shown the new features of “independence and selfreliance” and “true non-alignment.” China, as it stated, “will not play the US card or the Soviet Union card,” “nor will we allow others to play the China card.” China’s foreign policy was no longer the unity of “One Line,” but rather an “independent foreign policy of peace.”
The United States’ repeated intervention in China’s internal affairs was also one of the factors promoting China’s change of foreign policy. After the Reagan administration took office, the United States changed its original estimate of China’s strategic position, sought to strengthen the relationship with Taiwan, and insisted on arms sale to Taiwan. China took tit-for-tat measures. In a joint communiqué issued on August 17, 1982, the US government promised that “it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.” Considering that the arms sale to Taiwan was an unresolved historical issue, Beijing had demonstrated flexibility on the basis of sticking to the One China principle, and had not insisted on a specific deadline for an end to the arms sale. This being said, Beijing’s position was clear: Taiwan concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the One China principle and policy must be observed.
It was true that China’s foreign policy had made a major strategic adjustment, but it was not designed for China to become enemy of the United States again. Rather, China was committed to the stable development of China-us relations based on the principles of three joint communiqués. The 1980s witnessed several high-level visits between the two countries. In April 1984, during President Reagan’s visit to China, Deng Xiaoping affirmed the robust development process and bright prospects of bilateral relations, and pointed out that the Taiwan issue was a major obstacle in China-us relations. In February 1989, during President George H. W. Bush’s visit, China reaffirmed the importance it had always attached to the relationship with the US, and hoped that the two sides would expand and
deepen cooperation in all aspects under the guidance of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and the principles of the three joint communiqués. To promote China-us relations, “the two countries need to enhance mutual trust and reduce frictions.”
Outstanding achievements in the 1980s guided by Deng’s diplomatic theory. China adhered to the diplomatic policy of opposing hegemonism and safeguarding world peace, and developed normal relations with the United States, Japan and Western Europe. China followed a policy of nonalignment, so the Sino-soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance was not extended when it expired in 1980. China gradually eased relations with the Soviet Union, and its relations with some socialist countries in Eastern Europe were also restored and developed. In May 1989, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited China and met with Deng Xiaoping. In the spirit of “ending the past and developing the future,” China and the Soviet Union realized the normalization of relations. China fully promoted its relations with a great number of developing countries and strengthened its international strategic position, and it also improved and enhanced relations with neighboring countries. In dealing with certain historical territorial and maritime disputes, Deng Xiaoping put forward the idea of “shelving disputes and joint development while sovereignty belongs to China,” which not only adhered to China’s own principles but also presented a strategic vision. To certain extent, it eased the intensity of the situation.
Under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping’s thought of “One Country, Two Systems,” the Chinese government achieved the proper settlement of the return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland. In December 1984, the Chinese and British governments issued a joint declaration confirming that the Government of the People’s Republic of China would resume its sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. In April 1987, the Chinese and Portuguese governments issued a joint statement confirming that the Government of the People’s Republic of China would resume the sovereignty over Macao on December 20, 1999. The return of
Hong Kong and Macao put an end to the century-old humiliation of the Chinese nation, becoming an important milestone in the process of China’s reunification.
With the continuous popularization of Deng Xiaoping Theory, China’s domestic ideology was further united. It was generally recognized that China’s development could not take place separate from the world, and that the relationship between opening to the outside world and maintaining independence and self-reliance should be correctly handled. China should keep upgrading its all-round and multi-level opening up, promote international trade, scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, and learn from all the achievements of human civilization, including the operating modes and management expertise of advanced countries. With the deepening of its reform and opening up, from 1978 to 1989, China’s total trade volume increased from USD 20.6 billion to 111.6 billion.
“Independent foreign policy of peace” enduring changes
“Keep a low profile and make due contributions.” In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the drastic changes in Eastern Europe, the reunification of Germany, the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union greatly affected the pattern of international relations. The world system entered a new period of turbulence and reorganization. In the late 1980s, there was also serious political turmoil in China. The United States and other Western countries took the opportunity to interfere in China’s internal affairs, exerted pressure on China, and collectively imposed sanctions on China. The relationship between China and the West entered a difficult period and China’s independent foreign policy of peace faced a severe test.
Amid such tremendous changes in the international arena, China adjusted its policies in an in-depth and all-round manner while sticking to its general principle of an independent foreign policy of peace. In the
face of the pressure and sanctions imposed by Western countries, Deng Xiaoping analyzed the overall situation, and put forward the diplomatic strategy of “calm observation, firm stance and composed response.” Later he added “keep a low profile, play honest, refrain from taking leadership and make due contributions.” China steadily developed friendly relations with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and adhered to the principle of “keeping a low profile, working hard and refraining from taking the leadership, and never saying or doing anything beyond capacity.” With a detached attitude transcending ideology, China withstood the drastic changes in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union. With a firm position and flexible strategies, China withstood the pressure and sanctions of Western countries, creating a favorable surrounding and international environment for its economic development.
Firmly safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity to ensure economic development. The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin as the core insisted on the Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, stayed calm and composed in dealing with the changes, and resolutely safeguarded national sovereignty and dignity. At the same time, to achieve the interests of the Chinese people and world peace and stability, China took steady steps to seek a better external environment and develop normal state-to-state relations with Western countries. The “sanctions” imposed by the United States on China seriously impacted and undermined relations between the two countries. China faced up to the difficulties with courage, and effectively defended its national sovereignty and key interests. In the end, the Bush administration, while sustaining its pressure, agreed to continue the Most Favored Nation treatment for China.
In response to the Clinton administration’s linkage of human rights issues and the Most Favored Nation status early in office, the Chinese side fought back with good reason, to its own advantage and with restraint. In November 1993, at the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Seattle, the leaders of
the two countries met and reached a consensus on bringing a healthy and stable China-us relationship into the 21st century. In May 1994, the US government proposed a policy of engagement with China, declaring that human rights issues would be decoupled from China’s Most Favored Nation status. However, in June 1995, the visit of Lee Teng-hui to the United States led to another decline in China-us relations. In the spirit of “enhancing trust and reducing frictions, developing cooperation and preventing confrontation,” the Chinese side handled the relations while resolutely fought against separatism and the Taiwan independence movement. In June to July 1998, when the President Clinton visited China, the two sides further clarified the direction of China-us relations in the 21st century. Clinton publicly stated his policy towards Taiwan in three-nos: no support for Taiwan independence, no support for “two Chinas”, “one China, one Taiwan”, and no support for Taiwan’s membership in any international organization of which statehood is a requirement.
At the turn of the century, the “new interventionism” brought new challenges to China-us relations. On May 8, 1999, NATO, headed by the United States, bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, which aroused great indignation of the Chinese government and people, and strong condemnation from the rest of the international community. On May 25, while the embassy incident had not come to a conclusion, the “Cox Report” from US Congress claimed that China had stolen US nuclear secrets that would endanger the national security of the United States. The Chinese side solemnly refuted this ungrounded accusation. China-us relations were restored only after joint efforts of both sides, In November 1999, the two countries reached an agreement on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), clearing the biggest obstacle for China’s final entry into the organization. As for the embassy bombing incident, following the Chinese government’s serious representation, the two sides finally reached an agreement on the compensation for the casualties and property damage in December 2000. In September and November 2000, the two heads of state
met again during the United Nations Millennium Summit and the APEC Leaders’ Meeting. In October 2000, Clinton signed a bill on Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with China into law, according to which the United States terminated the annual review of China’s Most Favored Nation treatment provided by the Trade Act of 1974, and established PNTR with China.
In April 2001, after the aircraft collision incident between a US Navy reconnaissance plane and a Chinese naval fighter in airspace over the South China Sea, the George W. Bush administration publicly identified China as a “strategic competitor.” However, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Chinese top leader still gave a timely call to the US leader, expressing China’s willingness to combat all forms of terrorism in cooperation with the US. Thereafter, the bilateral relations improved, and the US gradually began to regard China as a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. After fifteen years’ efforts, the Doha WTO Fourth Ministerial Council made the decision in November 2001 to complete the WTO accession procedures for China, marking a new stage in China’s opening up.
China’s diplomacy making all-round progress. In 1991, the political situation in the Soviet Union witnessed a drastic change, and the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the first to declare independence. At the end of the same year, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics disintegrated, and the 15 republics became independent sovereign states. In line with the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries and respect for the choice of their peoples, the Chinese government announced recognition of Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and established diplomatic relations with them. China’s neighborly relations with Russia and Central Asian countries created a favorable environment for its domestic reform, opening up and modernization, and was also important for peace and stability in the Asia-pacific region and
the world at large.
China’s relations with developing countries were further consolidated and strengthened. The promotion of solidarity and cooperation with developing countries remained the basic principle of foreign policy, and China consistently upheld fairness, justice and the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. On the economic front, China provided assistance within its capacity to developing countries in accordance with the principles of “equality, mutual benefit, effectiveness, diversified forms and common development.” China also actively developed friendship and promoted cooperation with neighboring countries. It restored diplomatic relations with Indonesia, established diplomatic relations with Singapore, Brunei and the Republic of Korea, and normalized relations with Vietnam and Mongolia. In the Middle East, China developed comprehensive and balanced relationships with all countries, and established diplomatic relations with Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Israel. In Africa, China followed the five principles of long-term stability and comprehensive cooperation, and officially established diplomatic relations with South Africa in January 1998. China’s relations with Latin American countries witnessed steady development. By the end of the 20th century, the number of Latin American countries that had established diplomatic relations with China increased to 19, and considerable progress had been made in forging economic and technological cooperation.
In the late 1980s, developed countries in Western Europe, for ideological and political considerations, followed the United States in imposing sanctions on China, resulting in a serious decline in bilateral relations as well as a setback in economic and trade cooperation. In the 1990s, new trends were seen in the relationship between Europe and the United States, with the centrifugal tendency of the former becoming stronger. Realizing China’s important role in international affairs, the Europeans decided to lift most of their sanctions against China and restore and enhance relations with China. Thus China-eu political relations
entered an important period of development. In the mid-1990s, China put forward four principles for its relations with Western Europe: developing a relationship of long-term stability and friendly cooperation for the 21st century; mutual respect, seeking common ground while putting aside differences; complementary and mutual benefit to promote common development; strengthening consultation and cooperation on international affairs. In July 1995, the European Union adopted A Long Term Policy for China-europe Relations and prioritized its relations with China.
On the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, China continued to develop friendly and cooperative relations with Central and Eastern European countries. China did not interfere in other nation’s internal affairs, respected the independent choice of people of other countries, and advocated the establishment of new interstate relations beyond differences in social systems, ideologies and values. By doing so, China promoted practical cooperation between the two sides in various fields. With Japan, China also maintained frequent multi-dimensional engagement and communication. In November 1998, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the two governments issued the Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development, an important document to guide future bilateral relations. In addition, China was also active in multilateral diplomacy and played an increasingly constructive role in international affairs.
New opening of China’s diplomacy in early 21st Century
Adhering to the path of peaceful development. Entering the 21st century, the world’s multi-polarization and economic globalization gained momentum, the scientific and technological revolution accelerated, the international community became increasingly interdependent, and overall the world embraced peace and stability. However, the world was still far from tranquil. Many regions continued to suffer from turbulence.
The unbalanced development of the world economy intensified, and in particular, the North-south gap continued to widen. Hegemonism and power politics still existed, which had a negative impact on international affairs. Traditional security threats did not diminish, while non-traditional security threats increased. Opportunities and challenges facing world peace and development coexisted.
In this period, China’s relationship with the rest of the world witnessed great changes, and their economic interdependence constantly increased. After decades of reform and opening up and economic development, China’ comprehensive national strength had improved significantly. China’s diplomacy conformed to the trends of peace, development and cooperation, and it proposed countries work together to build a “harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.” China’s strategy of promoting the socio-economic development of the country also underwent profound changes, with more attention paid to scientific development. The speedoriented development mode had been shifted to a balanced approach that valued both speed and quality. In the face of the 2008 international financial crisis, China responded positively by strengthening and improving its macroeconomic regulation and control, which ensured the sound development of the economy. In the first decade of the 21st century, the average annual growth rate of China’s economy reached 10.7 percent. The foreign exchange reserves of China ranked first in the world for seven consecutive years. And its economic aggregate rose from being the sixth to the second largest in the world.
China’s diplomacy continued to serve the goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way, working with all peoples to create a peaceful and stable international order, a neighborly and friendly surrounding environment, a cooperation pattern featuring equality and mutual benefit, a security structure of mutual trust and collaboration, and an objective and friendly circumstance of public opinion.
Innovation of diplomatic theories. Since the 16th CPC National
Congress, the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as General Secretary clearly put forward the “Scientific Outlook on Development,” which emphasized the principle of “putting people first, following a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable approach to development, and promoting the all-round development of the economy, society and people.” Thus, the CPC opened a new chapter of theory construction for diplomacy with Chinese characteristics: first, the understanding of China’s important strategic opportunity period was deepened; second, the fundamental strategy of following the road of peaceful development was clarified; third, the opening up strategy for mutual benefit and win-win progress was proposed; fourth, the vision of a harmonious world with enduring peace and common prosperity was advocated; and fifth, the overall arrangement of China’s diplomacy was further explored and improved.
In terms of diplomatic ideas, China advocated greater democracy in international relations, believing that all countries should participate in international affairs as equals, and that international issues of common concern should be resolved through consultation. China respected, as always, international laws and the basic norms governing international relations. China upheld the authority of the United Nations and its leading role in dealing with major international issues. China expressed its commitment to a “new international political and economic order that is fair and reasonable,” which “takes mutual security as the premise, balanced development as the foundation, widely accepted laws as the guarantee, dialogue and cooperation as the approach, and common prosperity as the goal.” Politically, China advocated mutual respect and equal consultation. Economically, it encouraged cooperation and complementarity. Culturally, it advocated mutual learning and seeking common ground while shelving differences. In terms of security, China pursued mutual trust and strengthened cooperation. In environmental protection, it paid attention to mutual assistance and joint efforts in achieving the balance between humans and nature.
China’s diplomacy held high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, seized opportunities, resolved challenges, unswervingly followed the path of peaceful development, and constantly opened up new situations of foreign relations. As a result, its comprehensive national strength, international competitiveness and influence all significantly improved. China, with its own development, promoted the common development of the region and the world, and positively played a role in international affairs. China actively participated in the world’s major international organizations, and joined and signed a number of international treaties and agreements. China was actively involved in and articulated its ideas and positions on major international issues at various multilateral platforms, such as major UN agencies and the “G8+5” Dialogue. Within the framework of the WTO, China continuously established and strengthened its image as a responsible major country, promoted trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, supported and improved international trade and financial systems, and advocated the resolution of trade frictions through consultation and collaboration.
Working for new diplomatic arrangements. Improved international relations provided an important opportunity for the development of China’s relations with other countries, as well as changes in its foreign policy. While adhering to the principle of “keeping a low profile,” China also emphasized “making due contributions.” It stressed the spirit of peace, development and cooperation in dealing with global affairs and international relations, remained committed to the development of all-round diplomacy, and shaped a basic pattern of “major powers as the key, the neighborhood as the priority, developing countries as the foundation, and multilateral platforms as the important stage.”
In handling relations with major powers, China made efforts to maintain the steady development of China-us relations. The two sides set up more than ten bilateral dialogue mechanisms, such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), to actively explore cooperation and properly
handle differences. Important consensus was also reached on exploring a new type of major-country relationship. China insisted on handling Chinarussia relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, taking the implementation of the ten-year development plan for bilateral relations as the central task. The two countries supported each other, carried out allround coordination, worked for long-term friendship, and continuously strengthened strategic cooperation in global and regional affairs. China actively promoted and constantly enriched the China-eu comprehensive strategic partnership. China also steadily advanced its political relations and pragmatic cooperation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, China strengthened cooperation with emerging economies to bring the BRICS cooperation mechanism to a new high. Major countries generally increased their reliance on and cooperation with China.
China adhered to the principle of “being a good neighbor and partner,” continuously developed amicable relations with neighboring countries, and actively established regional cooperation mechanisms. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization underwent a process of extraordinary development, withstood the test of the international situation, and entered a stage of comprehensive and pragmatic cooperation. China promulgated a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship, attached importance to improving relations with neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and established a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The dialogue mechanisms of ASEAN-CHINA (10+1) and Asean-china-japankorea (10+3) further deepened CHINA-ASEAN relations. China actively promoted the formation of the Six-party Talks for the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, which played an important and unique role in attempts to promote the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue. China and Japan started a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship, but meanwhile Japan’s illegal “nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands” triggered turmoil in
the bilateral relations.
China made important progress in solidarity and practical cooperation with developing countries. The Forum on China-africa Cooperation further consolidated and advanced friendly relations between China and African countries. The establishing and deepening of mechanisms such as the Chinaarab States Cooperation Forum promoted China’s comprehensive relations with Arab countries. China’s cooperation with Latin America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific countries also deepened. At the same time, China strengthened coordination and cooperation with developing major countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, and the cooperation mechanism of BRICS was continuously enriched and perfected.
In 2009, the G20 replaced the G8 as the main platform for global economic governance. As one of the G20’s founding members, China played an important role in international affairs. In order to safeguard world peace, China actively participated in attempts to resolve global and regional hotspot issues, and dispatched troops to UN peacekeeping operations. On issues such as Syria, the Iranian nuclear issue and relations between North and South Sudan, China advocated dialogue and peaceful settlement of these issues. China also carried out international cooperation in non-traditional security fields such as anti-terrorism. China resolutely safeguarded national sovereignty and effectively fought against all separatist activities.
Xi: New Era Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics
When the historical baton of leading China toward rejuvenation was passed to the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core in 2012, China’s diplomacy once again stood at a new historical starting point, which necessitated new strategic adjustments to enable the country to advance with the times. The diplomatic strategic thought put forward and led by Xi Jinping has become an action guide for the Chinese diplomacy in the new era.
Unprecedented historical changes
Since the first decade of the 21st century, the international situation has been undergoing tremendous changes: the international balance of power continues to tilt toward the East, emerging market economies and developing countries have risen at a rapid pace, and the global political and economic architecture is in a period of great development, dramatic change and major adjustment. The trend of world multi-polarization has become more obvious, and the double-edged effects of economic globalization continue to unfold. The anxiety and alertness of the dominant power against the emerging powers have strengthened. Complex conflicts have emerged from time to time in the international political and security arena. The world economy features both competition and interdependence. Global governance is faced with daunting tasks. Competition over the rules making for global governance has become more intense. Meanwhile, nontraditional security issues have become more prominent and soft power competition has gained momentum. In the external environment facing China, both positive and negative factors are on the rise. China today is faced with three unprecedented situations: being unprecedentedly close to the center of the world stage, getting unprecedentedly close to its goal of national rejuvenation, and having unprecedented capability and confidence to achieve the goal. The development of China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity, with the biggest opportunity being the development of China itself.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has taken the responsibility to rejuvenate the whole nation, uniting and leading all the Chinese people in their efforts to realize this ambition. Xi Jinping has expounded in great depth the Chinese Dream of achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and enriched it with more profound and far-reaching global implications. The Chinese Dream is targeted at the “Two Centenary Goals:” doubling
the 2010 GDP and per capita income of urban and rural residents and finishing the building of a society of initial prosperity in all respects when the CPC celebrates its centenary, and turning China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious when the People’s Republic of China marks its centenary. These goals summarize the historical appeal of the state and the nation, and serve the driving force for Chinese people to unite for bigger progress. Xi Jinping is leading the whole Party and Chinese people of all ethnic groups to achieve the four-pronged comprehensive strategy, which means to make comprehensive moves to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, deepen reform, advance law-based governance, and strengthen Party self-governance. All Chinese will strive for the Two Centenary Goals and the lofty ideal of the great renewal of the Chinese nation.
With far-sightedness, Xi has said that “China must have majorcountry diplomacy with its own characteristics.” Diplomacy is an extension of internal affairs, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has intrinsic connection of dialectical unity with the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. China’s increasing national strength will inevitably lead to changes in essence and extension of the country’s national interests, and diplomatic work must adapt to the changed international structure and domestic situation. Remaining true to the original aspiration and keeping the country’s mission firmly in mind, Xi Jinping has inherited and innovatively developed the strategic thought of China’s diplomacy originating from the founding of New China, especially after reform and opening up. Under the new situation, the strategic objectives, basic principles and major tasks of China’s diplomatic work are: hold high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, coordinate the overall domestic and international situation, balance the two priorities of development and security, firmly grasp the main line of upholding peaceful development and promoting national revival, safeguard national interests concerning sovereignty, security and development, create a more favorable
international environment for peaceful development, and maintain and extend the important strategic opportunity period for China’s development, so as to guarantee the realization of the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of the Chinese nation’s great renewal.
Theoretical system and comprehensive arrangements
In the new historic journey, the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics has a more global perspective, and enterprising and pioneering spirit. China has constantly introduced new ideas, implemented new initiatives and demonstrated new vision.
Xi Jinping devises the grand strategy guiding the nation, and has further developed the diplomatic experience since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. These efforts have brought about new contributions for the theory and practice of China’s diplomatic work. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Communist Party of China has made major breakthroughs and theoretical innovations regarding the world’s development and international relations, and established a system of diplomatic theory with Chinese characteristics.
First, China has enriched the strategic thinking of peaceful development, and deepened and enhanced the core spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. China has reaffirmed its adherence to sovereign equality, common security, common development, win-win cooperation, inclusiveness as well as fairness and justice. Second, China advocates the establishment of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, raising “win-win cooperation” as the diplomatic banner of the country and applying it to the political, economic, security, cultural and other fields. Third, China proposes forging a community of shared future for all humanity, clearly putting forward the “five-in-one” path comprising of politics, security, economy, culture and ecology. Fourth, China advocates and strives to establish extensive international partnerships instead of regional alignments. Fifth, China implements the global governance concept of wide consultation, joint
contribution and shared benefits. Sixth, China advocates the concept of common, integrated, cooperative and sustainable security. These new ideas and thoughts have abandoned the old Cold War mentality of confrontation and zero-sum game. They are not only the guidelines for China’s diplomatic work in the new era, but also have values that can exert positive influence on peace, development and progress in the world.
China’s diplomacy in the new era has inherited the character and tradition of its foreign experiences and made new contributions. Recognizing the new situation of globalization and multi-polarization, China is holding high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation. China has been both courageous and competent, and both enterprising and prudent. It considers its current demands while taking a long-term perspective, takes the interests of others into account while stressing its own. Chinese diplomacy has taken active steps to make comprehensive arrangements. It has blazed new trails to upgrade the relations with the rest of the world.
First, China is actively seeking to build a new type of major-country relationship. President Xi Jinping had the Annenberg Retreat meeting, Yingtai night talk and White House autumn talk with the US President Barack Obama, and a meeting with his successor President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-lago resort, which has brought China-us relations to a new high. By strengthening communication, expanding cooperation, and managing differences, the two countries have defended the bottom line of “non-conflict and non-confrontation,” consolidated the foundation for mutual respect, and jointly advanced the goal of win-win cooperation. Over the past four years and more, Xi Jinping has visited Russia six times. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has also visited China six times. The comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries has been enhanced, mutual trust and cooperation further strengthened, and bilateral relations have become more mature and stable. The four-pronged China-eu partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization have further deepened, with common interests expanded and
the level of strategic cooperation constantly enhanced. China’s friendly and cooperative relations with other major developing countries and regional powers have also witnessed great progress.
Second, China continues to promote the healthy development of relations with its neighbors. China has proposed the neighborhood diplomacy concept of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and still prioritizes its relations with neighbors. Peace, stability and development together benefit all members in the community of neighbors. The overall relationship between China and neighboring countries is moving in a more positive direction.
Third, China continues to deepen relations with developing countries. China has made great efforts to adopt a more balanced approach to upholding principles and pursuing interests. It continues to strengthen its friendship with other developing countries, while enhancing mutual trust, deepening cooperation, and seeking common development. The partnership of solidarity and all-round cooperation has constantly advanced and witnessed fruitful achievements.
Fourth, China strives to forge a circle of friends in multilateral platforms. China deeply involves itself and plays a guiding role in multilateral diplomatic process. It has made new progress in relations with the United Nations and other important international organizations. China has embraced the idea of equality, inclusiveness and win-win progress, and has tried to blaze a new trail of “dialogue rather than confrontation, partnership rather than alliance.” So far, China has established different forms of partnership with 97 countries and international organizations. Its global partnership network has become more extensive, and the road of winwin cooperation has become even wider.
Responsibility for national revival and contribution to human progress
Xi Jinping once cited Napoleon Bonaparte’s comparison of China to a sleeping lion. Instead of “shaking the world when she awakes” as Napoleon
claimed, however, Xi pointed out that “the Chinese lion has awakened, but it is a peaceful, amicable and civilized lion.” After entering the 21st century, China’s comprehensive national strength and international influence are growing. However, China has never shunned its due responsibilities and obligations as a major country, and has been making its due contributions to promoting world peace, development and progress. While China has the courage to take new challenges and demonstrates an enterprising spirit, it is also prudent and never does things that are beyond its capability and development stage.
In terms of overseas economic cooperation, China advocates that people of all countries should share the fruits of development. Each country, while seeking its own development, should actively promote the common development of the world. In the face of globalization in reverse and the rise of protectionism, China has always adhered to openness and inclusiveness. China’s diplomacy has shown the world its sense of responsibility as a major country, which has not only hedged the uncertainties in global economy but also demonstrated China’s willpower and self-confidence. The priority of China’s diplomacy is to serve its development, reform and opening up. Centered on this priority, China strives to forge an external environment that is more stable and friendly. As the largest developing country and a representative of emerging economies, China has made, and will continue to make, its due contributions to the common development of the region and beyond. China’s economic development has entered a new normal, but over the next five years, the country is expected to import 8 trillion US dollars of goods, absorb 600 billion US dollars of foreign investment, invest 750 billion US dollars abroad, and the number of outbound tourists will reach 700 million. All this will continue to bring more opportunities for the development of the world.
China advocates building awareness of a “global community with a shared future,” and has been actively seeking to maximize the interests of all parties so as to advance common development. China supports the
UN Millennium Development Goals and will continue to uphold both principles and interests, with principles coming first, to achieve the post2015 development agenda in cooperation with other countries. China has actively participated in UN peacekeeping missions and international humanitarian relief activities, fulfilling responsibilities and obligations such as escorting in the Aden Gulf and rescue efforts following the earthquake in Nepal. China has promised to set up a China-un Peace and Development Fund of 1 billion US dollars; proposed the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank; launched the China South-south Climate Cooperation Fund with an investment of 20 billion yuan; unswervingly supported the Paris Agreement, which is a necessary response to global climate change demonstrates China’s sense of responsibility.
China insists on the principle of “wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.” It has promoted the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and developed a number of economic corridors on land and at sea, so as to achieve the goal of narrowing inter-regional development gaps and realizing integration. From 2014 to 2016, China’s total trade with countries along the Belt and Road routes exceeded 3 trillion US dollars. Chinese enterprises have built 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries, creating 180,000 jobs for the countries and regions concerned. So far, more than 100 countries and international organizations have actively supported and participated in the Belt and Road Initiative, and the UN General Assembly has also included the Belt and Road construction in relevant resolutions. In May 2017, guests from more than 130 countries and over 70 international organizations gathered in Beijing to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. In January 2016, the AIIB proposed by China started operation. The bank has not only been welcomed by the developing countries in Asia, but also recognized by more and more developed countries. As of June 2017, the total number of
members and prospective members of the Bank had reached 80. The Belt and Road has become an open and inclusive international cooperation platform and global public good that meets the development aspirations of all the countries involved.
The world is still suffering from turmoil, and regional wars and conflicts still exist. China has always adhered to the peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation, opposed the willful threat or use of force, and advocated abandoning the Cold War mentality and forging a security path that is built by all, shared by all, and serves the interests of all. This path will promote the common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security of the region and beyond. In the face of the existing international order and international system, China has always advocated reform and improvement on the basis of maintaining them. China is actively committed to maintaining regional stability and security, and has promoted security and defense exchanges and cooperation with countries in the region through mechanisms such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the cooperative framework in East Asia. China is actively involved in international efforts in combating terrorism, safeguarding cyber security, fighting infectious diseases and so on, playing the role of a responsible major country in international security affairs. China actively participates in the peaceful settlement of hotspot issues, advocates and implements three principles: stick to non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and oppose the imposition of one’s will on others; stick to an objective and impartial stance and oppose seeking one’s private interests; and stick to political solution and oppose the use of force.
China has made a positive contribution to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. On the North Korean nuclear issue, China upholds three principles: promoting denuclearization, peace and stability of the peninsula, and peaceful settlement of problems through dialogue and consultation. On the maritime disputes over
territorial sovereignty and relevant rights, China advocates resolving the problems through peaceful means while firmly defending its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea. The Chinese government has made timely steps to improve its relations with the Philippines, frustrating the plot of countries outside the region to interfere in the South China Sea situation. It is true that China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, but it will never do so at the expense of core national interests. On Japan’s “purchase” of the Diaoyu Islands, China has insisted on its sovereignty and announced the Air Defense Identification Zone and regular navigations in the East China Sea. China does not make or create trouble, but it is not afraid of trouble either. With bottom-line thinking, China has clarified to the world that “it is never an option that we will swallow any bitter consequence that damages China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.” In addition, in the field of non-traditional security, China is highly vigilant of any interference in its own internal affairs.
China energetically promotes exchanges and mutual learning between different cultures and civilizations. Xi Jinping has said that “Civilizations will only become richer and more colorful with exchanges and mutual learning.” The rich and profound Chinese culture has stamped unique marks on China’s diplomacy. Chinese diplomacy is committed to promoting all-round cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and strengthening interpersonal bonds, so that the Chinese dream and the dreams of other peoples can reinforce each other. Chinese culture attaches importance to self-cultivation domestically and an inclusive approach externally. By so doing, the influence of China’s soft power can be felt step by step. China’s diplomacy has been trying to use plain words to tell Chinese stories and provide Chinese solutions. In recent years, the Chinese leaders’ overseas visits have often been accompanied by state-level activities such as the “Cultural Year.” In addition, the Hangzhou G20 summit, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the Xiamen BRICS summit, among
other major events hosted in China, have also enhanced the good image of the country. China’s diplomacy has followed the governance philosophy of serving the people, with consular protection constantly strengthened, which has effectively safeguarded the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and enterprises overseas.
Throughout history, the fundamental purpose of China’s diplomacy has been to serve the great historic journey of the Chinese people to stand up, grow prosperous and be strong.
The Mao Zedong Thought led New China to stand on its feet. The diplomatic work of the Chinese Communist Party began with its efforts to establish a broad united international anti-fascist front. In the face of containment during the Cold War, the newly founded China pursued the policy of “leaning to one side.” With the changes in the international situation in the 1960s, China’s diplomacy was adjusted to normalize relations with the Unites States vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.
In the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping led another major adjustment of China’s diplomacy, and initiated the independent foreign policy of peace. Under the guidance of the Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, China’s independent foreign policy of peace and the strategy of “keeping a low profile and making due contributions” withstood the test of the disintegration of the bipolar world and the drastic changes at the turn of century. All this paved way and provided for a precious strategic opportunity period for the peaceful development of China.
Since the first decade of the 21st century, the international structure has undergone great changes. The rise of China has brought new life to the old nation. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought, the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics holds high
the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation. Chinese diplomacy has grown and developed a profound global vision and it has a grand diplomatic strategy, which includes short-term, mid-term and longterm goals based on practical needs. China’s diplomacy carefully handles relations with great powers, neighboring countries and developing countries as well as multilateral platforms. China practices, with pragmatic policies, the diplomatic value of win-win cooperation in various areas of politics, economy, security and culture.
Looking back on the historic journey of China’s diplomacy, the reason for its success lies in the Chinese leadership’s correct understanding of the changes in the international situation and China’s essential need for development, and their ability to set up practical and realistic phased goals and guidelines based on China’s national conditions. Looking around the world today, the interdependence of countries is deepening, and it has become an irresistible trend of the times to seek peace and development, promote cooperation and work for win-win outcomes. With a keen appreciation of the future of humankind and the general trend of the world’s development, China’s diplomacy is committed to lasting peace and common development. China will stick to independence and self-reliance, inclusiveness and openness; uphold fairness and justice, and seek common ground while reserving differences; and pursue equality-based cooperation for harmonious co-existence, shared development and win-win outcomes.
Under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s diplomatic thought, no matter how the international situation changes, China’s diplomacy will continue to uphold its unshakable ideals and beliefs as well as its sense of responsibility as a major country, and build a community of shared future for humanity in an active and prudent manner. In the new historic journey, China is ready to face and overcome all the possible hardships and forge ahead with great determination and an enterprising spirit.