Chinese President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic activities for the year have come to an end with the conclusion of his South Pacific trip which included attendance at the 2014 G20 Brisbane Summit and visits to three Oceanic countries. 2014 has been an eventful year, featuring multiple international crises. Thanks to the fresh ideas of new leadership, however, Chinese diplomacy has made impressive headways amid the capricious changes.
1. Xi’s refreshing and outstanding diplomatic strategies
1). China as an “awakening lion.” During his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of China-French diplomatic relations, Xi said, “China, the (sleeping) lion, has woken up. But this is a peaceful, amiable, and civilized lion.”
2). Outlook on world civilizations. During a speech at the UNESCO headquarters, Xi proposed three principles for exchanges among civilizations: diversity, equity, inclusiveness.
3). Asian security outlook. At the 4th CICA summit, Xi put forward the “common, comprehensive, cooperative, sustainable” Asian security outlook, along with the “Asian path to security” that is built and shared by all Asian countries and conducive to “win-win” outcomes.
4). Invitation to free-riders. Speaking at the Mongolian State Great Khural, Xi said, “All countries are welcome to get on board the express train of China’s development. We welcome all who need a lift. As a saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’”
5). “New Asian-Pacific Dream.” Speaking at the APEC CEO Summit in Beijing, Xi challenged business leaders to “create and realize an Asian-Pacific Dream for the people of the region.”
2. Chinese diplomatic progress with major countries:
China-Russia relations have stood the test of international turbulence; strategic mutual confidence and mutual assistance have deepened. When Russia came under mounting pressure from Western sanctions owing to the Ukraine crisis and its worsened external environment, China extended a helping hand and proceeded with China-Russia cooperation as usual, including work on major projects. In the mean time, China has called for political resolution of the Ukraine crisis, and has opposed Western sanctions.
China-Europe exchanges were unusually frequent. The lasting aftermath of the debts crisis has rendered economic recovery very difficult for the EU. Chinese leaders made frequent visits to Europe, proposing mutually beneficial cooperation, and supporting EU integration.
“Increasing trust and reducing suspicions” in China-U.S. relations was another major diplomatic goal, and China has taken the initiative and strived for benign interaction and harmonious co-existence. The Xi-Obama meeting in Beijing was a solid boost to the “new-type major-country relationship.”
3. Periphery diplomacy’s steady progress in both crisis control and rights preservation
In response to Vietnam’s groundless provocation regarding China National Offshore Oil Corporation oilrig 981, which was in normal operation off the Xisha Islands, as well as the vandalizing of Chinese-invested firms, China came up with resolute countermeasures and issued solemn warnings. In response to the U.S.’ more intensive intervention in the disputes in the South China Sea, China put forward a “dual track” approach: disputes should be resolved peacefully through friendly consultations and negotiations by countries directly involved, and the peace and stability of the South China Sea should be preserved jointly by China and ASEAN countries.
In dealing with the recalcitrantly right-leaning Japanese authorities, China has adhered to principles, upheld justice, and promoted cooperation through struggle. Xi earnestly admonished Shinzo Abe to be faithful to bilateral political documents between China and Japan as well as the commitments made by past administrations, such as the Murayama statement, continue to follow the path of peace, and to adopt prudent military and security policies.
4. Proactive “home court diplomacy” to bolster regional security and economic order
The CICA Shanghai summit in May enhanced Chinese say in regional security affairs. China proposed to turn the CICA into a platform for security dialogue that covers the entirety of Asia, and to explore the establishment of a new framework of regional security cooperation on such a basis.
The Beijing APEC summit in November opened up a new era for Asia-Pacific economic cooperation. The summit decided to launch the FTAAP process, effectively reversed the undesirable situation of the fragmentation and polarization of Asia-Pacific cooperation.
5. Economic diplomacy proved attractive
As world economic recovery falters, the Chinese economy has become the world economic “locomotive” thanks to its continuous positive growth. The “China dividends” have benefited the world and are embraced globally. Together with 21 other interested countries, China has signed a memorandum on establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, hosted the dialogue on enhancing interconnectivity, announced the establishment of the $40 billion Silk Road Fund, accelerated promotion of the “Silk Road economic belt” and “21st century maritime Silk Road,” and witnessed new breakthroughs in bilateral free trade arrangements such as the China-ROK and China-Australia free trade zones.
6. Demonstrating its role as a “responsible major country” in dealing with global challenges
On one hand, China has tried its best to help West African countries in coping with the Ebola pandemic. To date, the Chinese government has provided 750 million yuan worth of emergency aid to 13 countries, the UN, WHO and African Union. In contrast with Western countries, who promise more but do little, Chinese medical workers have never hesitated to put themselves in harm’s way to help our African bothers.
On the other hand, China actively participated in international cooperation on climate change. China’s National Program on Climate Change (2014-2020) and the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change have been hot topics of discussion. Furthermore, the country is planning to set up a South-South cooperation fund for dealing with climate change.
In 2015, Chinese diplomacy will continue to follow the traditional strategic philosophy of “pragmatic benevolence,” and stick to a balance between righteousness and interest and between morality and power.