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China's spring diplomacy renews commitment to peace, cooperation

Editor: Zhang Pengfei 丨Xinhua

05-26-2016 16:39 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

BEIJING, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Marked by a new round of handshakes and deal-making, China's spring season diplomacy underscored once again the country's commitment to peace, cooperation and world security.

With Beijing forging closer ties with nations both near and afar, observers say China's latest foreign relations drive is refining its diplomatic push.


Since Xi Jinping assumed the presidency in 2013, the Chinese top leader's globetrotting has taken him to over 40 countries.

His most recent trips to the Czech Republic and to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit in late March and early April are testament to China's commitment to mutually beneficial cooperation.

In Prague, Xi and his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman saw the two countries elevate their relations to strategic partnership and oversaw the inking of a host of intergovernmental agreements in fields such as e-commerce, investment, science and technology, tourism, culture, and aviation.

And in Washington, Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama, agreed to deepen China-U.S. cooperation in various fields while managing differences in a bid to consolidate and expand their countries' common interests.

"Cooperation and win-win are the core of China's foreign policy," said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

In face of unsurrendering world economic woes, intercontinental refugee crises and unrelenting terrorism, a new approach to world governance in the interests of all countries, big and small, is imperative.

Since 2012, Xi has spoken of a "community of common destiny" dozens of times, putting the notion at the heart of relations with China's neighbors and the international community at large.

That notion could not have come at a better time - the zero-sum game of centuries of global politics has brought little but inequality and regional turmoil. The financial crisis in 2008, which reverberates to this day, has demonstrated the perils of questionable economic practices and demanded urgent need for international coordination.

Only through cooperation can any nation achieve the greatest good for itself.

As Xi puts it, one plus one can be greater than two. Cooperation helps countries develop and grow better than they do alone.

With China advocating mutually beneficial cooperation for all, the community of common destiny offers a new global agenda for peace, progress, prosperity and stability.


Back on home soil, a succession of foreign heads of states and governments visited China from March to mid May, putting Beijing's "home court diplomacy" in the spotlight.

Xi met during this period with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, German President Joachim Gauck, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, Nepali Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli, and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, among others.

The list gets even longer to include dignitaries such as British Prince Andrew, Russia's Presidential Administration chief Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and head of State Duma Sergei Naryshkin, and former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson.

At the opening ceremony of the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Xi proposed Asian countries to explore a new approach to regional security cooperation, one that reflects Asian needs.

In the meantime in Hainan, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam in March about China's plans to offer some 1.54 billion U.S. dollars in concessional loans and up to 10 billion U.S. dollars in credit lines to fund infrastructure and improve connectivity in countries along the Lancang-Mekong River.

One day later, Li called for closer cooperation among Asian countries at the 2016 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which was attended by more than 2,000 participants from over 60 countries and regions.

"It is clear that we are seeing a very busy year in China's home court diplomacy in 2016, particularly with the upcoming G20 summit scheduled in Hangzhou," said Prof. Yang Baoyun with Thailand's Thammasat University.

"Indeed, China's rise and its surging international influence have been translated into increasing global attention, and hence a more active diplomatic push on the home court," Yang said.


Neighborhood policy is another important feature of China's spring season diplomacy drive. With Beijing pushing for a community of common future, Chinese diplomats are also keeping their focus near home.

Since March, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has visited Russia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and held talks with counterparts from Japan, Russia, and India.

Xi has also spent considerable time meeting with leaders and ministers from neighboring countries.

The first leaders' meeting of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and the BFA provided new venues to boost regional ties.

"Neighborhood diplomacy seems to be a prominent trait of China's foreign relations drive this year," said Tang Qifang, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.

This is not necessarily a new development. Over the past several years, China has worked extensively to deepen its economic links with neighboring countries to promote economic prosperity and greater integration in the region.

It has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, which consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, and established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to address infrastructure needs in the region.

"It is fair to say that Beijing has been particularly proactive in the diplomatic sphere since March this year, as it pushes to sort things out on its own doorstep," said Yang Baoyun, who lectures at the school of international relations at Peking University.

Yang noted that "frequent interactions" between China and Southeast Asian countries in the past two months were partly the result of a pending arbitration over the South China Sea, which was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

China has repeatedly said it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration, with a foreign ministry spokesperson referring to Manila's action as "blackmail."

But both Yang and Tang dismissed the idea that the South China Sea disputes were the sole reason for China's recent emphasis on neighborhood diplomacy.

"The real rationale behind this is that China's rise has increasingly shifted the world's political and economic spotlight toward the Asia Pacific," Tang explained.

"And that in turn has led China to attach more importance to its periphery," Tang said.

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