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The Report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China Opened a New Chapter of China’s Major-Country Diplomacy

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Author:Xu Qinhua | November 11, 2017


 “Following a path of peaceful development and working to build a community with a shared future for mankind.” The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China puts forward China’s diplomatic strategy and blueprint design for the new era, points out China’s international role orientation, elaborates the background and trend of international development, and summarizes work priorities, missions, responsibilities, action principles and promotion strategies of China’s exchanges with other countries. The report shows the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has the wisdom and determination to build China’s role as a major country and diplomatic strength in the constantly changing international environment full of challenges unswervingly, wisely and confidently. 

Peaceful Coexistence: Chinese Diplomacy Shows International Wisdom 

 “The Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress.” The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China points out the role orientation, goal and principle of our Party and country in the international community and international affairs: “China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promoting common development. China remains firm in its commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and to forging a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation.” 

In the diplomatic history of the People’s Republic of China, after Premier Zhou Enlai first proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence when meeting with an Indian delegation in December 1953, China’s top leaders always took adherence to these principles as their historical tradition and intellectual legacy. In 1988, Comrade Deng Xiaoping clearly proposed establishing new international political and economic order following the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. In the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized these principles again, declaring to the world that despite China’s stronger power, the action principle, role and nature of China will not waver or change. 

A country’s vision of foreign strategy originates from its course of perceiving and shaping its identity, and China is no exception. In recent years, China’s consistent attitude and practice of sincere treatment, candid opening and emphasis on peace turned the view that China will become a hegemonic power after its rise into an ungrounded guess and unscrupulous slander. Therefore, the report directly answers the following questions: What kind of country is China in the international community and how will China act? As the saying goes, a straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe and a straightforward person does not deceive himself. China is gradually breaking the spell of “hegemonic relays” with its diplomatic wisdom. 

Tolerant and Inclusive: Chinese Diplomacy Shoulders International Missions 

When addressing the great development, change and adjustment of the world situation and the numerous common challenges facing mankind, the report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China points out: “No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation. We call on the people of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind, to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.” The report not only includes the title of “promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind”, but also uses the word “common” many times, showing that in the international community, China not only will provide international public products of good quality, but also is determined and confident to serve as a platform and bridge for solving disputes and conflicts, designing plural cooperation and promoting common governance and clearly answering the following questions: What will China face in the international community and how will China face it? 

In recent years, China not only received positive response to “the responsibilities and tasks” undertaken by China as a major country from the international community through promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, but also successfully held large-scale multilateral cooperation meetings such as the APEC Summit, the G20 Summit and the BRICS Summit in November 2014, July 2017 and September 2017 respectively. Besides, the “Silk Road Fund” was successfully established in 2014, the “BRICS New Development Bank” established with China’s participation opened in 2015, and the “Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank” opened under China’s lead in 2016. These are all great results delivered by China as an “engine and leverage” of global economic growth promoting global economic development and propelling global and regional cooperation. Meanwhile, China also made great achievements in the field of South-North cooperation. Platforms such as the Boao Forum for Asia, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China and Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum also expanded gradually, demonstrating China’s attitude and spirit of equal treatment to all countries, openness, inclusion, win-win cooperation and sharing. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization expanded again after accepting Pakistan and India as official member states, showing China’s clear standpoint and attitude of advancing with various countries in co-governance on issues such as prevention of terrorism and improvement of regional security. 

Outstanding Achievements: Chinese Diplomacy Expands Partnerships 

The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China points out: “China has actively developed global partnerships and expanded the convergence of interests with other countries. China will promote coordination and cooperation with other major countries and work to build a framework for major country relations featuring overall stability and balanced development. China will deepen relations with its neighbors in accordance with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbors. China will, guided by the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principle of sincerity, honesty, affinity, and good faith, work to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries.” This basically outlines China’s focuses and priorities in the work of China’s exchanges with other countries, i.e. carrying out global cooperation, optimizing relations among major countries and stabilizing and consolidating neighborhood diplomacy. These three principal axes of Chinese diplomacy directly answer the following questions: What does China mainly do in the international community and how does China do it? 

At present, state actors still play a dominant role as the most important political cells in the world. Therefore, the core task of China’s diplomatic work is to effectively develop high-quality relations among countries, maintain interaction and exchanges among countries, deepen bilateral cooperation, and expand common interests. 

In China’s diplomatic affairs, major country relations are especially important. They are a cornerstone of world peace and stability and a precondition and guarantee for China’s good international development environment. China’s relations with the United States and Russia have gone through twists and turns and encountered crises and challenges. President Xi Jinping has always attached great importance to develop major country relations. When he visited the United States as Vice President in February 2012, he proposed establishing “unprecedented major country relations for posterity” to implement the consensus between the two countries’ presidents following the five progressive guidelines of innovative thinking, mutual trust, mutual understanding on an equal basis, positive action and cultivation of friendship. After the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi visited foreign countries and met with presidents of the United States and Russia many times, carried out in-depth exchanges with the two countries leaders during multilateral international meetings, conducted communication and negotiation on major international issues and breaking incidents, and realized great development in China-US and China-Russia relations. 

Building the Dream of Revitalization: The Goal of Chinese Diplomacy 

Whether it’s the Belt and Road Initiative, global governance, China-US major country relations or expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ultimate goal of is none other than building the dream of revitalization. 

The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasizes: “The original aspiration and the mission of Chinese Communists is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation.” The Party’s fundamental principle is serving the people. Major country diplomacy as the country’s important tool is a symbol and mark of national strength and ethnic dignity and a fundamental guarantee for the Chinese people’s stable, peaceful, respected, interest-ensuring, open and inclusive international environment. 

 “Promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind” is based on the original intent and objective of letting the nation’s history of humiliation become the past forever and letting the Chinese people and the Chinese nation stand tall among the world’s great powers again. 

(Author from Renmin University of China)

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