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Foreign Policy

New Vision for China’s Foreign Policy

Dec 15 , 2015
  • Wu Zhenglong

    Senior Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

China’s foreign policy, while maintaining its continuity and stability in terms of the cardinal principles after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, has been characterized by constant innovations in ideas and concepts, which have helped lay an important theoretical foundation for practices of foreign affairs. Practices in the past three years showed that new ideas in China’s foreign policy have offered answers to the following fundamental questions.

First: What kind of world should mankind build in the 21st century? Should it be a balanced world, or a world of power politics and bloc confrontations, or a world with clearly divided spheres of influence? China has given its answer: Building a community of common destiny for mankind. Some basic features such as multipolarity, economic globalization, cultural diversity and social informatization have evolved in the current international situation. Regardless where you are from, what faith you embrace or even whether you are willing not, you are, as a matter of fact, already part of the community of common destiny. The notion of building a community of shared future for mankind should include partnerships, security environment, development prospect, inter-civilization exchanges and ecosystem. These five aspects go hand in hand and jointly constitute the new concept for foreign policy and security. The concept not only sums up the development trends of the world, but also is the goal pursued by all peoples around the world.

The second question: How should countries get along under a new global environment? Ever since the establishment of the Westphalia system in the mid-17th century, power and might have been the main drivers behind inter-country relations. Cases in which the large, the strong and the rich bullied the small, the weak and the poor were not rare, and the world has suffered from two world wars and the Cold War as well as the post-Cold War turmoil and conflicts. Amid new trends in the international situation, China has proposed to build a new model of international relations featuring mutually beneficial cooperation. We should build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals, engage in mutual consultation and show mutual understanding. We should be committed to multilateralism and reject unilateralism. We should adopt a new vision of seeking positive outcomes for all, and reject the outdated mindset that one side’s gain means the other side’s loss, or that the winner takes all. In handling relations between or among big powers, the principles of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation should be strictly followed. Major powers should treat small countries as equals, and take an ethical approach to justice and their own interests by putting justice before their own interests. We should forge a global partnership at both international and regional levels, and embrace a new approach to state-to-state relations, one that features “dialogue rather than confrontation, and seeks partnership rather than alliance”. The idea of building a new type of international relations on the basis of win-win cooperation is an enrichment and development of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and is a new benchmark in handling county-to-country relations in the new era.

The third question: How should mankind construct a just and equitable global governance system? The global governance system, based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, has played an important role in promoting peace and development of the mankind. Global governance, however, also needs to advance with the times, if it is to adapt to the shift of international forces. Should it echo the calls of vast developing nations for a louder voice in their participation in the global governance? To create a just and equitable global governance system does not mean to dismantle the existing system and create a new one to replace it. Rather, it aims to reform and improve the global governance system, one built and shared by the world. The reform should bring the core role of the UN into full play. The priorities are to achieve the goal of greater democracy in international relations, legality in global governance and greater rationalization in the structure of international organizations.

The fourth question: How should the international community work to narrow the South-North gap, eliminate poverty and achieve the goal of common development and prosperity? Only through development can the root causes of conflicts be resolved, the basic rights of the people be safeguarded, and the ardent hopes of people for a better future be met. China has advocated a course of equitable, open, all-round and innovation-driven development for the international community, and has striven to realize the common development of all countries. Thisin fact sums up the successful practices of the international community in the past years, and is a kind of guiding proposition for realizing the goals for common and sustainable development. It is also one of the important contributions China made to the course of development.

The fifth question: How should countries resolve disputes and differences between or among them. China advocates resolving disputes and differences through dialogue and consultation, and stands against the arbitrary use or threats to use force. It calls for efforts to transform challenges into cooperation opportunities and to create a sound and favorable environment for friendly cooperation between and among the countries. This is brand-new thinking for dealing with international disputes and disagreements under the new global situation, and underscores Chinese wisdom.

The new vision of China’s foreign policy is strategically forward-looking, inclusive and peaceful. It not only serves as the theoretical foundation for the development of China’s foreign affairs, but also helps inject fresh Chinese wisdom in building a new type of international relations. China’s foreign policy has reached a new historical starting point. And with gradual enrichment and improvement in China’s foreign policy ideas, China will surely make greater achievements in its foreign affairs, and that policy will surely make greater contributions in realizing the Chinese Dream and in promoting world peace and development.

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