Innovations in China's Diplomatic Theory and Practice Under New Conditions
2013/08/16

Since the successful conclusion of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last year and the end of the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) earlier this year, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has, in light of new conditions and new tasks, focused on China's long-term and strategic agenda with a keen appreciation of the evolving global environment and trends of development at home. Bearing in mind both the domestic and international interests of the country and maintaining the continuity and consistency of its major diplomatic policies, it has promoted innovations in diplomatic theory and practice by keeping up with the trend of the times and pushing ahead with a pioneering spirit. With a good beginning made and an overall plan adopted, the Party Central Committee has put forth many important strategic ideas on China's external affairs as well as diplomatic policies and principles, and taken a number of major diplomatic initiatives which have not only created external conditions favorable for facilitating the work of the Party and the state across the board, but also enriched and developed the system of diplomatic theory with Chinese characteristics.

I. The new diplomatic initiatives as taken are strategic, overarching and innovative in nature.

Given close international attention on major policy direction of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary after the 18th Party Congress, Comrade Xi Jinping made his diplomatic debut by meeting the representatives of foreign experts working in China. Later, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a collective study session on unswervingly following the path of peaceful development. On both occasions, Comrade Xi Jinping made important remarks on China's opening-up strategy and foreign policy, sending out a clear message that China's new collective central leadership is committed to reform and opening-up, the path of peaceful development and the strategy of win-win cooperation with the outside world while resolutely upholding China's core national interests.

Since the end of the annual NPC and CPPCC sessions this year, Comrade Xi Jinping and other Party and state leaders have paid visits to major countries, neighboring countries, emerging market economies and developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America, and hosted visits by dozens of foreign leaders. These activities of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy both at home and abroad have enabled Chinese leaders to meet more than one hundred foreign heads of state and leaders, which has effectively enhanced China's friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with other countries.

Actively promoting relations with the major countries. Comrade Xi Jinping made Russia the first leg of his first overseas visit as China's President, which strengthened bilateral cooperation in the economy, trade, energy and strategic security and consolidated the basis of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. Comrade Xi Jinping held meetings with US President Barack Obama at the Annenberg Estate in Los Angeles, during which the two sides agreed to work together to build a new model of major-country relationship based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation, thus charting the course and drawing the blueprint for growing China-US relations in the future. China and the United States also successfully held their fifth round of Strategic and Economic Dialogues, making good progress in implementing the agreement of the two presidents and advancing the building of a new model of major-country relationship. With other Chinese Party and state leaders visiting European countries, China has played host to French President Francois Hollande and other European leaders, and worked steadily to open up new areas of mutually-beneficial and pragmatic cooperation between China and Europe.

Energetically working to stabilize and advance the friendly and good-neighborly relations in the surrounding areas. China's relations with its neighbors are, on the whole, moving towards a more favorable direction. While attending the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2013 and the state events held on its sidelines, Comrade Xi Jinping expounded on the new ideas in China's domestic and foreign policies, which promoted China's strategic trust with the relevant countries and elevated its relations with the neighboring countries. We have received visits by state leaders from neighboring countries, such as President Truong Tan Sang of Viet Nam, President Park Geun-hye of the ROK and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, strengthened bilateral ties with neighboring countries in areas including Southeast Asia and Central Asia, and consolidated our good-neighborly friendship and cooperation with them. With respect to such issues as Diaoyu Island and South China Sea, we have acted firmly to uphold our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests while working hard to appropriately handle and resolve the disputes with the neighboring countries through dialogue and negotiation. On the Korean nuclear issue, while firmly committed to the goal of denuclearization on the Peninsula, we have actively reached out to relevant countries to move the situation on the Peninsula towards relaxation.

Vigorously working to strengthen friendship and cooperation with developing countries. Comrade Xi Jinping's successful visits to Africa and Latin America have fully reflected the great importance we attach to developing countries. By visiting Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of the Congo, Comrade Xi Jinping set a precedent for a Chinese head of state to visit Africa during his first overseas trip. What is more, he met with over a dozen African leaders at a breakfast meeting, with fruitful results achieved in renewing friendship, enhancing mutual trust, advancing cooperation and identifying opportunities for common development. By visiting Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico and holding bilateral talks with leaders of eight Caribbean countries, Comrade Xi Jinping has enhanced China's political trust and result-oriented cooperation with them and brought China's overall cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean to a new high.

Deeply engaging in and shaping processes of multilateral diplomacy. When meeting leaders of international organizations, Comrade Xi Jinping stressed China's commitment to the advocacy and practice of multilateralism and the great value it places on the important role of the United Nations and other international organizations. China will honor its due international obligations and work in close cooperation with relevant international organizations in maintaining world peace and security, promoting human development and progress and addressing global issues and challenges. Fresh progress has been made in China's relations with major international organizations. Attending the Fifth BRICS Leaders' Meeting in Durban, South Africa, Comrade Xi Jinping worked for closer communication and coordination with other major developing countries on global economic and political matters of great consequence and brought about progress in building BRICS mechanisms. The Summit issued the eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan, decided to establish a development bank and a contingent reserve arrangement among BRICS countries, thus providing a strong impetus to the establishment of a new international political and economic order that is fairer and more equitable.

The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has made innovative headway on the basis of past achievements. A sound and momentous beginning has thus been achieved in our diplomatic work. With the layout being more comprehensive and more balanced, China's diplomacy under new circumstances displays such features as rich ideas, clear priorities, firm positions, flexible approaches and distinctive styles. This has not only aroused greater interest of all parties to further grow relations with China, which paves the way for sound diplomatic work in the latter half of the year and even the next five to ten years, but also boosted the morale of the Party, the army and the people, thus greatly galvanizing the enthusiasm of our Party and our people of all ethnic groups to work for the realization of the "two centenary goals" as set by the 18th Party Congress.

II. Innovations in diplomatic theory and practice have resulted in major achievements.

Confronted with a highly complex international situation, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has carried forward the Party's fine tradition of linking theory with practice, made courageous explorations by combining domestic affairs with foreign affairs and integrating Chinese features with the trend of the times, and achieved a series of major breakthroughs in diplomatic theory and practice within a very short period of time. Displaying a strong resolve for innovation, a broad, strategic and forward-looking global perspective, and a capacity to command the overall situation, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has provided a powerful guarantee in both theory and practice for innovative diplomatic work and better use of the important period of strategic opportunities.

1. Putting forth the important thinking of the Chinese dream with profoundly enriched contents with a view to boosting exchanges and cooperation between China and the rest of the world.

During his trips abroad or meetings with visiting foreign guests at home since the 18th Party Congress, Comrade Xi Jinping has spoken profusely to leaders and people of foreign countries on the important thinking of the Chinese dream, namely, to achieve the great renewal of the Chinese nation.

Comrade Xi Jinping has emphatically pointed out that the Chinese dream is shared by the Chinese people of all ethnic groups and cherished by each and every individual in the country. The Chinese dream requires a peaceful and stable international and neighboring environment, and China is committed to realizing the dream through peaceful development. Since the Chinese dream is closely linked with the dreams of other peoples around the world, China is committed to helping other countries, developing countries and neighboring countries in particular, with their development while achieving development of its own. China will share more development opportunities with other countries so as to facilitate their efforts to realize their dreams. China hopes to see win-win cooperation and common development with the rest of the world. While working to realize the Chinese dream, the people of China are desirous of realizing the world dream through concerted efforts with people around the world.

Comrade Xi Jinping's comprehensive, profound and exquisite description of the Chinese dream is a continuation and development of the important thinking of China's peaceful development in the new era. It has enhanced international understanding and recognition of China's peaceful development strategy and received extensive appreciation and applause. Many foreign leaders and people from various sectors regard the Chinese dream as fully consistent with the dreams of their own countries and own peoples, and have expressed readiness to join the Chinese people in realizing the beautiful dream shared by the entire mankind. This fact has dealt a powerful blow to the attempts by certain international forces at distorting and smearing the Chinese dream.

The important thinking of the Chinese dream has not only energized our people's determination and confidence in accomplishing the great renewal of the Chinese nation but also substantially boosted China's appeal and influence in the world, enhanced our stature and voice in international affairs and given full expression to the strong synergy between our domestic and external agenda.

2. Putting forth the vision of building a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States while striving to advance relations with other major countries.

To promote the building of a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States and bring about sound interaction and win-win cooperation with major countries is an important thinking of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary concerning China's relations with other major countries. The thinking is a strategic choice made based on a full review of the experience and lessons of history, a correct reading of the trend of the times and a need to integrate China's interests with those of other countries. It is also the inherent requirement of the "two centenary goals" and the inevitable demand for our overall strategy of peaceful development.

China and the United States have reached important agreement on the building of a new model of major-country relationship. During their meetings at the Annenberg Estate, Comrade Xi Jinping and President Obama agreed that the two countries would work together to build a new model of major-country relationship that benefits both peoples and the people in the world. Comrade Xi Jinping summarized such a new model with three insightful sentences. First, non-conflict and non-confrontation. That requires the two sides to view each other's strategic intention in an objective and sensible way, stay as partners instead of adversaries, and properly handle their differences and disputes through dialogue and cooperation instead of taking a confrontational approach. Second, mutual respect. That requires the two sides to respect each other's choice of social system and development path, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, seek common ground while shelving differences, uphold inclusiveness and mutual learning, and make progress side by side. Third, win-win cooperation. That requires the two sides to abandon the zero-sum mentality, accommodate the other's interests while seeking one's own, promote common development while developing oneself, and continue to deepen the pattern of shared interests. Comrade Xi Jinping also pointed out that to implement the agreement on the building of a new model of major-country relationship, the two sides need to bring their dialogue and trust to a new level, take new steps in their pragmatic cooperation, establish a new pattern of major-country interaction, and explore new ways to manage their differences. The building of a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States is an unprecedented endeavor that will inspire future generations. It is a historic innovation that has no ready experience to copy. As such, it may not be a plain sailing process. Nevertheless, as long as we size up the situation, focus on the goal, be firm in our determination and keep forging ahead, we will be able to achieve sound and steady growth of China-US relations.

Meanwhile, with active planning and facilitation, China's relations with other major countries have also made fresh progress and breakthroughs. China and Russia have deepened strategic trust, scaled up business cooperation, made new breakthroughs in major energy cooperation projects, maintained close coordination on major international and regional issues and in global economic governance, and achieved new progress in growing their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. China and the European Union have expanded cooperation areas, deepened shared interests, and continued to elevate strategic relations and cooperation to new heights. We have also made active efforts and achieved notable results in developing friendship and cooperation with other major developing countries and major regional countries.

3. Putting forth the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests with a view to enhancing friendship and cooperation with neighboring countries and developing countries.

To strike a balance between upholding justice and seeking interests is at the heart of traditional Chinese culture and a moral benchmark observed by the Chinese nation throughout the centuries. This important principle governs both personal conduct and China's relations with other countries. Inheriting the fine traditions of Chinese culture and the diplomacy of New China and keeping in mind the new tasks in the new period of China's relations with other developing countries and its neighbors, Comrade Xi Jinping underscores the need to adopt the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests in growing relations with these countries. Politically, we should uphold justice and fairness as a guiding principle. Economically, we should pursue mutual benefit and common development. In growing relations with our neighbors and other developing countries that have long been friendly towards China yet face daunting challenges in development, we will accommodate their interests rather than seeking benefits at their expense or shifting troubles unto them.

We will follow the right approach to upholding justice and seeking interests in strengthening relations with our neighbors and other developing countries. During his visit to Africa, Comrade Xi Jinping had sincere and cordial discussions with African leaders, in which he expounded on China's Africa policy and stressed China's commitment to cooperation with Africa with sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith. In particular, he emphasized the win-win nature of China-Africa cooperation. He reiterated that China will fully honor its commitment to Africa, attach no political strings to aid to Africa, help African countries translate their strength in natural resources into progress in development and achieve diverse, independent and sustainable development. Comrade Xi Jinping's remarks struck a chord among African leaders and people. Many of them said that China's help to Africa is sincere and aims at boosting Africa's development and that Africa has full trust in China.

During Comrade Xi Jinping's visit to Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica, a large number of major cooperation projects were agreed upon, which testifies to China's sincerity in helping Central American countries to achieve development. Comrade Xi Jinping announced that China would provide preferential loans and special infrastructure loans to Caribbean countries having friendly ties with China, and this was warmly received. Comrade Xi Jinping's visit to Mexico boosted bilateral business ties, and the two sides announced the upgrading of China-Mexico relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

4. Proposing stronger top-level designing and strategic planning in diplomatic work including the bottom line thinking with a view to resolutely upholding China's core interests.

Comrade Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for stronger top-level designing and medium to long-term strategic planning for China's diplomatic work. The Party Central Committee, demonstrating a long-term and broad vision and bearing in mind the underlying trend and major events, has stepped up such efforts by integrating China's relations with the world's major countries, its neighbors and other developing countries and multilateral diplomacy through a series of major initiatives. This has promoted an all-round growth of China's relations with various parties, meeting our target of a good start and solid layout in our diplomatic work and setting the stage for the medium and long-term pursuit of our objectives.

The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary attaches great importance to the details of implementing China's foreign policy. It calls for the need to follow new trend in strategic planning, to make timely policy adjustments in light of shifting international developments and the changing external environment, and to properly address new issues and problems in our diplomatic work. We must keep in mind the bottom line, working for the best but preparing for the worst. Comrade Xi Jinping has stressed that while firmly committed to peaceful development, we definitely must not forsake our legitimate interests or compromise our core national interests. No country should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that undermines our sovereignty, security and development interests. In our diplomatic work, we will not dodge disputes or problems as there may be. Rather, we will endeavor to properly handle the differences and problems with relevant countries, while working to promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields to expand common interests and maintain good relations with neighboring countries and peace and stability in the region as a whole.

5. Putting forth the need for enhanced coordination in diplomatic work to ensure unified central leadership over the operations.

To better coordinate the country's domestic and international agenda, the Party Central Committee attaches great importance to a holistic management of foreign affairs. It calls for balanced considerations, overall planning, unified command and coordinated implementation. It requires the central and local governments, non-governmental organizations and all foreign-related agencies to work together to form synergy, with each performing their respective functions. We should fully motivate all the parties involved and spark their creativity, and at the same time subject their activities to the unified management guided by national interests. Efforts should be made to ensure the smooth exercise of leadership by the Party Central Committee in decision-making, management and specific handling of foreign-related affairs so as to realize its strategic intentions in diplomatic work. In the past six months, by strengthening institution-building, sorting out relevant systems and mechanisms and formulating clear-cut regulations, the Party Central Committee has succeeded in improving the management of foreign-related work with stronger and better coordinated operations.

III. We must earnestly study and apply the achievements of innovations in diplomatic theory and practice to make new progress in diplomatic work.

China's diplomatic work under new conditions, which got off to a good start, has proceeded from a stage of planning to one of all-round implementation. Taking stock of the overall developments, we find ourselves still in an important period of strategic opportunities in which much can be accomplished. Yet we also face complex and daunting challenges. The important achievements of innovations in diplomatic theory and practice made by the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary have not only laid a solid foundation for our diplomatic work in the immediate future, but also pointed out its correct direction. We should earnestly study and fully appreciate the essence of these innovations, draw inspirations from them and apply them in our diplomatic practice. We should build on the good beginning and forge ahead in a pioneering spirit. While continuing to improve on the strategic planning, we should give greater play to the leading role of leadership diplomacy, vigorously grow relations with other major countries, step up friendship and win-win cooperation with our neighboring countries and other developing countries and move the international order in a more just and equitable direction. We should work hard to popularize the new thinking and new ideas of Chinese diplomacy, implement the Party's mass line and people-oriented diplomacy, and endeavor to make new progress in our diplomatic work, thus creating a more enabling external environment to make the Chinese dream, the great renewal of the Chinese nation, come true.

(The author is State Councilor and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee.)

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