The Third Session of the 12th National People’s Congress opened on the morning of March 5th and Premier Li Keqiang delivered the Report on the Work of the Government. The sections on diplomatic work have attracted much attention.
First, the report gives a high appraisal of Chinese diplomacy in 2014.
It reviews the fast developments and changes in international situation and admits that China was confronted with a “complex and severe” international and domestic environment, with the global economy in difficult recovery, major economies showing diverging trends, and the domestic economy under increasing downturn pressure. The intertwined difficulties and challenges have been “bigger than initially anticipated.”
The government work report sums up China’s multi-faceted diplomacy in 2014 as “calm in the face of emergency,” “leisurely pace,” and “direct confrontation against tough issues,” with “rich fruits” in four areas. President Xi Jinping and other leaders visited many countries and attended major international events, including G20 Leaders Summit and BRICS Leaders Meeting. China participated actively in establishing multilateral mechanisms and successfully hosted the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and 4th CICA Summit. Steady progress was made in relations with other major countries, and China entered a new phase in neighborhood diplomacy, making headway in cooperation with other developing countries. Notable advancement was made in conducting economic diplomacy with the Silk Road Economic Belt, 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Silk Road Fund.
The report confidently points out that China is engaging in more exchanges and cooperation with other countries and is increasingly recognized as a responsible power on the international stage.
Second, the report offers a dialectical analysis of the world situation in 2015.
On the one hand, it speaks candidly about a “turbulent and volatile” international situation as the world economy stays in deep adjustment with insufficient power for recovery, geopolitics gains weight and leads to more uncertainties and the downturn pressure on the Chinese economy is still accumulating. “Difficulties in this year will be of an even greater magnitude than last year.”
On the other hand, the report dialectically points out that China is still in the strategic stage of opportunities for development, with huge potential, resilience and leeway. It stresses the need to “enhance awareness of potential danger, maintain a firm belief in victory, and firmly grasp the initiative in development.”
Third, more significant openness to the outside world and expanded economic diplomacy are the priorities of diplomatic work in 2015.
The report argues that “opening-up is also a reform” and stresses to “win the initiative in development and international cooperation through taking the initiative to open up.”
“Economy is the foundation.” Diplomacy is no exception to this rule. Economic diplomacy will have the following highlights in 2015.
The first is accelerated implementation of the Going Global Strategy. Efforts will be made to sell Chinese equipment to the rest of the world, manage outward investments through registration, expand export credit insurance, broaden uses of foreign exchange reserves, and improve financial, information, legal and consular protection services. Stress is put on “paying attention to risk prevention and enhancing the ability to protect rights and interests overseas.” The second involves the construction of a new pattern of comprehensive opening-up by promoting the “one belt, one road” initiatives as well as China-Pakistan and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridors. The third is to plan bilateral and regional openness and cooperation as a whole. While safeguarding the multilateral trade regime, efforts will be sped up to implement the FTA strategy so as to work towards completion of the negotiation to upgrade the China-ASEAN FTA and RCEP negotiations to create an Asia-Pacific FTA. China-U.S. and China-EU negotiations on investment agreement will be pushed forward. And the fourth is to steadily develop a marine economy and work towards becoming a maritime power by formulating and implementing strategic plans, firmly safeguarding national maritime rights and interests, and properly handling maritime disputes.
Fourth, multi-faceted diplomacy should be put at the service of the new strategic blueprint of “Four Comprehensives.”
The “Four Comprehensives” refer to the efforts to build a moderately prosperous society, deepen reform, carry out rule of law, and strengthen Party discipline and are the overarching blueprint of General Secretary Xi Jinping to guide the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and to govern the country.
The report proposes a diplomatic guideline that China unswervingly pursues a path to peaceful development, adheres to the strategy of mutual benefit, win-win and opening-up, resolutely safeguards state sovereignty, security and development interests, protects legitimate overseas rights and interests of Chinese citizens and legal persons, and promotes the establishment of new international relations centering on cooperation and win-win.
The report identifies five diplomatic priorities as follows: deepen strategic dialogue and practical cooperation and construct a healthy and stable framework of major country relations; comprehensively promote neighborhood diplomacy and create a community of shared destiny with neighboring countries; increase solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries to safeguard shared interests; actively participate in international multilateral affairs to push the international system and order towards greater fairness and rationality; and conduct activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of world anti-fascist war (WWII) and victory against Japanese aggression, and safeguard the fruits of victory and uphold international fairness and justice together with other members of the international community.
In conclusion, the report is a full demonstration of the proactive and enterprising diplomatic work of China in a period of accelerated rise. The year 2015 will witness intertwined opportunities and challenges and the reshaping of international order. Chinese diplomacy will be guided by the latest government work report, pursue both justice and interests with sufficient moral power and physical strength and make progress while ensuring stability by exercising both hard and soft powers, thus making even greater contribution to the strategic blueprint of “Four Comprehensives” and the Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation.