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Song Tao:The CPC’s Diplomatic Initiatives and High-Quality Joint Development of the Belt and Road

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Author: | Source:English Edition of Qiushi Journal October-December 2019|Vol.11,No.4,Issue No.41

Abstract:



Pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative in line with the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration constitutes an important part of Xi Jinping thought on foreign affairs and represents its successful implementation. At the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech, in which he proposed a detailed vision for advancing the high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road. How to implement this vision under the current circumstances has become the focus of all parties as well as the key to success of the high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road. The CPC is a political party that strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and for the advancement of humankind, and to make new and greater contributions to humanity is its abiding mission. Diplomatic initiatives constitute one of the CPC’s major frontlines and are an important part of China’s overall diplomatic endeavor. As the CPC possesses the distinct advantage of being able to conduct extensive, deep, and flexible exchanges with other political parties, its diplomatic initiatives may help build up broad consensus, enhance mutual trust, and deepen cooperation through candid exchange and communication based on an understanding of the world’s major development trends and the patterns underlying the development of world politics and political parties. As such, these diplomatic initiatives play an important political guiding role in advancing high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road.

A sub-forum of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on people-to-people exchange is held in Beijing on April 25, 2019.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC CENTRAL COMMITTEE

I. Guiding our endeavors in the right direction to promote a global community with a shared future

General Secretary Xi has emphasized that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a proposal to implement the concept of a global community with a shared future. Under the current circumstances, in pursuing high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road, we must firmly persist in promoting the establishment of a global community with a shared future through jointly building the Belt and Road, and we must integrate our efforts in these two areas.

Connectivity is the key to Belt and Road cooperation. The world is experiencing a scale of change unseen in a century, and joint development of the Belt and Road faces both invaluable opportunities and grave challenges. On the one hand, peace and development remain the theme of the times; the trends of multipolarization, economic globalization, social digitalization, and cultural diversification are continuing to unfold; and the reform of global governance system as well as the international order is accelerating, while the Internet, big data, cloud computing, quantum satellite technology, and artificial intelligence are developing rapidly. Humans are more connected than ever before, and the world is moving toward harmony, which facilitates this interconnectivity. On the other hand, economic growth drivers are inadequate, the wealth gap is widening, anti-globalization, populism, protectionism, and extremism are on the rise, traditional and non-traditional security challenges have become entangled, global instability and uncertainty are more pronounced than ever, and the increasingly serious problem of the dearth of governance, trust, peace, and development has been thrust before us. Against this backdrop, a trend of division is also emerging in the world, which is not favorable to interconnectivity.

The China-Cambodia Happy Spring project, launched as part of the “Silk Road Friends” initiative, became operational in June 2019. Funded by the China Foundation for Peace and Development, the program is helping to alleviate water shortages faced by local Cambodians.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Humanity currently stands at a crossroads in history. Facing the question of how to proceed, we urgently need to develop the BRI as a major platform for our efforts to address common challenges and the looming dearth of governance, trust, peace, and development, as well as to advance the building of a global community with a shared future. As such, it is vital that we guide all parties to enhance their political stance and foster a firm awareness of this community with a shared future. Since China proposed the BRI six years ago, our Party has widely publicized the concept of a global community with a shared future through various channels of exchange, so as to help the international community understand that the destinies and futures of each and every nation and country are bound tightly together, that we should stand together through thick and thin and through the good times and the bad, and that we should strive to build this planet of ours into one large harmonious family and realize humankind’s aspiration for a better life. From November 30 to December 3 in 2017, the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting was held in Beijing with leaders in attendance from about 300 major political parties and organizations and over 120 countries. General Secretary Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony entitled “Building a Better World Together.” This was the first CPC’s high-level dialogue with various political parties around the world since its establishment, and was also the first time that leaders of world political parties engaged in candid talks on building a global community with a shared future. The meeting elicited a strong response and sparked constant interpretation both at home and abroad, revealing the great appeal of this concept and deepening all parties’ understandings of building a global community with a shared future through Belt and Road cooperation. Many political parties, such as the Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, the Pakistan Muslim League (QA), the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa affirmed that cooperation on the BRI is a major practical step in building a global community with a shared future; it has opened a gateway to a better world and will provide strong support for building a global community with a shared future.

At the opening ceremony of the Second BRF, General Secretary Xi declared that we should uphold the principles of mutual consultation, joint development, and shared benefits, and advocate multilateralism. Moreover, all countries should engage in collective discussion of major issues that affect the group and work for incremental progress on these issues by each exerting their respective strengths and working to the best of their abilities, so as to give full play to our advantages and potential through bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral cooperation. As the Chinese saying goes, “Stone by stone a tower rises up, and drop by drop a pool forms.” These exhortations have revealed a new direction for building a global community with a shared future and have also generated new requirements for CPC’s diplomatic initiatives.

II. Guiding our endeavors with proper principles to achieve shared growth

General Secretary Xi has stated that the purpose of jointly developing the Belt and Road is to highlight connectivity, deepen pragmatic cooperation, respond in unison to the various challenges facing humanity, and realize mutual benefit and shared development. Under these new circumstances, in order to pursue high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road, we must truly grasp this goal of shared development. This idea stems from an honest review of China’s development experience, and represents the notion of common prosperity at the international level. At the same time, it is born of an understanding of the major problems and conflicts the world is currently facing. As General Secretary Xi points out, the greatest imbalance in the world today is that of imbalanced development. This imbalance exists between the global North and South as well as on the South-South planet, and also between different regions and groups within a single country. This is the source of various issues in the world and the cause of dearth of governance, trust, peace, and development. It is also the source of problems within traditional economic globalization, which is dominated by neoliberal concepts. In view of this reality, the initiative to jointly build the Belt and Road tackles issues from a development perspective and creatively prescribes global connectivity as treatment. This solution adheres to the trend of economic globalization, the changing requirements of reforming the global economic governance system, and the strong wish of people all over the world for good quality of life. As such, joint construction of the BRI will drive economic globalization in an open, inclusive, and balanced direction so that its benefits can be shared by all, and the initiative will offer new and greater contributions toward the building of a global community with a shared future.

Principles are precursors to actions. The implementation of high-quality development initiatives mustn’t depart from proper development principles. Fundamentally speaking, it is these principles that determine the effectiveness of development and even its success or failure. In pursuing shared development through Belt and Road cooperation, we must encourage all countries to establish proper principles of development. After the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core reflected deeply on the past experiences of China and other countries, and analyzed major development trends in both domestic and international settings. On the basis of this reflection and analysis, we have introduced a people-centered concept of development and a new philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development. These concepts have been helpful in addressing prominent issues in China’s development and have provided a meaningful reference point for the resolution of issues in world development. Therefore, over the past six years our Party has attached importance to the systematic introduction of China’s experiences and development principles to political parties of other countries. Taking full advantage of our two great resources of publicity groups and CPC delegations, we held the following events: the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting Africa Thematic Event on the topic of exploring development paths suited to the conditions of each country; a promotional conference on the Story of the CPC – Practice by Local Party Committees of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; the China-Central and Eastern Europe Political Parties Dialogue; the China-Arab Political Parties Dialogue, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Political Parties Forum, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Political Parties Joint Consultation Mechanism, and a promotional conference for the China-Japan Belt and Road Cooperation Pilot Zone. Through these events, we were able to give a comprehensive and systematic introduction to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era with particular focus on China’s new development principles, thus engaging all parties in pursuing shared development while participating in Belt and Road cooperation. The Cambodian People’s Party, Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, United Russia, and other various political parties have stated that joint construction of the Belt and Road is in line with the trend of world development, has filled a gap in the global development agenda, and has greatly boosted connectivity in both regional and global economies and trade. These parties have also opined that Belt and Road cooperation will not only help to accelerate China’s transformation and upgrading, but will also provide development opportunities for countries participating in the initiative; the BRI will contribute greatly to unlocking mutual benefits and shared development for those countries, thus fundamentally altering the pattern of imbalance in world economic development.

At the Second BRF, General Secretary Xi stated that we must uphold the principles of openness, integrity, and environmental friendliness and strive for the goals of high standards, sustainability, and the improvement of public wellbeing. We will continue to actively publicize these principles and goals through exchanges between the CPC and political parties of other nations, so that they may take root in countries along the Belt and Road in line with the national conditions and specific projects of those countries.

III. Guiding our endeavors with understanding to promote mutual communication and learning

General Secretary Xi has pointed out that it is due to their differences that cultures engage in exchange, it is through exchange that they learn from each other, and it is through this learning that all cultures progress. Exchange and learning between cultures represents the wealth that we have inherited from the ancient Silk Road, constitutes the essential requirements of civilizational development, and acts as a major driving force behind cultural progress and world peace and development. The path of the Belt and Road has seen the emergence, development, and intermingling of civilizations since ancient times, with a diversity of social systems, religions, economic modes and development principles. In pursuing high-quality joint development of the Belt and Road, we must take various measures to promote exchange and mutual learning between different cultures of each nation along the BRI route, so as to truly realize harmony and complementarity. Only in this way will joint development of the Belt and Road advance steadily with long-term impact, and undertake the mission to promote building a global community with a shared future. However, some people in the world today are spreading the so-called “clash of civilizations” theory, deeming certain cultures superior to others in an attempt to transform or replace other cultures and even generate hatred between nations, religions, and ethnic groups, which then impacts on political and strategic mutual trust. From time to time we see publicity hype in the form of negative arguments such as “geopolitical tools,” “debt traps,” “neocolonialism,” and “China attempting to export its soft power or ideology through the Belt and Road.” These notions have influenced to a certain extent the international community’s knowledge and understanding of Belt and Road cooperation. This warrants our close attention.

People are the best vehicles of cultural exchange and mutual learning. Deepening people-to-people exchange and mutual learning is an important channel for dismantling barriers and easing misunderstandings, and for promoting mutual understanding and connectivity. Over the past six years, our Party has emphasized exchange and learning between cultures and has integrated this approach with Belt and Road cooperation. Through channels of exchange with political parties in other countries, we have made great efforts to publicize General Secretary Xi’s important thinking on cultural exchange and mutual learning. We actively advocate open and inclusive attitudes toward others, the use of dialogue and exchange rather than conflict or confrontation, and the promotion of shared development through mutual learning, so as to dissolve barriers and prejudices through greater understanding and inclusiveness. We encourage harmonious co-existence, striking a common chord between all people, and finding connectivity between different concepts, and we strive to resolve misunderstanding and enhance mutual trust.

Top: Students sit in a classroom of the China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School in Vientiane, Laos, on March 15, 2019.

PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER ZHANG JIANHUA

Bottom: A picture entitled “Wishing Belt and Road countries peace, friendship, and shared development” drawn by one of the school’s students

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC CENTRAL COMMITTEE

China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School is a showpiece of friendship between the two countries. Since it was built with Chinese assistance in 2012, China has continuously sent volunteer teachers to the school and provided it with teaching materials.

People-to-people connectivity represents the most profound, enduring, and fundamental connectivity, and provides a key index for the effectiveness of cultural exchange and mutual learning. Against a backdrop of rising anti-globalization, populism, protectionism, and extremism, the strategic importance of people-to-people connectivity is particularly significant, and there is an urgent need for us to build bridges and connect people’s hearts and minds with a more active attitude. Moreover, we must accelerate our efforts to foster mutual appreciation, understanding, and respect between the countries along the Belt and Road so as to appeal to a greater number of friends and supporters. To this end, at the same time as holding the two BRFs, we have also held a parallel meeting under the theme of “Promoting People-to-People Connectivity” and a sub-forum for people-to-people connectivity, and initiated the establishment of a cooperative network between NGOs in countries along the Belt and Road, the Belt and Road Think Tank Alliance, the Wanshou Forum, the “Silk Road Family,” and other platforms for exchange and dialogue. We have successively held the BRICS Political Parties, the Think-Tanks and Civil Society Organizations Forum, the fourth and fifth China-Africa People’s Forums, the International Forum on the Belt and Road Port Cities, the Belt and Road Forum for Interconnected Land-Sea Development, and the First Shanghai Cooperation Organization People’s Forum. We have launched a number of cooperative projects for people’s wellbeing in Belt and Road countries including Mongolia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Nepal. All these endeavors have greatly enhanced the understanding and support of all social sectors in the Belt and Road countries for the joint development of the BRI.

The China-Laos Friendship Nongping Primary School was once a school with some of the poorest facilities in its home county in Laos. Thanks to the assistance of the China Foundation for Peace and Development over the past seven years, it has become a “demonstration school” and a “beautiful school” of Vientiane Province. After witnessing the incredible change of Nongping Primary School, the 57-year-old school principal Bounmy Vilaisan led all the teachers and students in writing a letter to General Secretary Xi Jinping, in which they expressed their sincere appreciation and said that the Chinese Dream had become entwined with the dream of Laos through the Belt and Road, and that they hoped to take the train to Beijing along the China-Laos railway when it is eventually completed. General Secretary Xi wrote back to them, encouraging the students to study well so that they could become the backbone of their country and continue the friendship between China and Laos. Xi’s letter was heartening for all the teachers and students of the school. At the end of April this year, Bounmy brought student and teacher representatives from the school to Beijing to attend the sub-forum for people-to-people connectivity at the Second BRF. They brought with them an album of paintings created by the students and teachers, titled Our Story of the Silk Road, which was presented to General Secretary Xi Jinping. This has become a story of friendship between China and Laos. As emphasized by a number of political parties, including Morocco’s Authenticity and Modernity Party, the Socialist Party of Portugal, and the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy of Burundi, joint development of the BRI has become a cultural link between the Belt and Road countries and has promoted mutual understanding. It is not only a path for economic and trade cooperation, but also for political dialogue and people-to-people connectivity. It is a path toward peace for the people of all countries.

At the opening ceremony of the Second BRF, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the important task of building a bridge for various cultures to learn from one another, and on behalf of the nation invited 10,000 representatives from the political parties, think-tanks and NGOs of Belt and Road countries to visit China. According to these requirements, we will guide more resources toward projects for people’s wellbeing and focus on addressing the issues of greatest concern to the people that impact them most directly in their everyday lives, so as to meet people’s aspirations for a better life and benefit people around the world through Belt and Road cooperation.

IV. Guiding our endeavors with a sense of mission to encourage political parties of different countries to shoulder greater responsibility

General Secretary Xi has pointed out that today’s world is changing, as are the ways in which we pursue development. All political parties should move with the tide of the times, grasp the underlying trends of human progress, and obey the common aspirations of the people, so that we may tie our own development together with that of our countries, our nations, and all humankind. Political parties are responsible for the domestic and foreign policies of their countries; they guide and represent public opinion and play an important role in the political life of their country, and they serve as an important driving force behind the progress of humankind. The joint development of the Belt and Road is a grand and unprecedented undertaking, as well as a long-term, complex, and systematic project that requires the shared efforts of all parties. In particular, the political parties of all countries should be ambitious and have the courage to take responsibility. They should consider both the domestic and international situations, keep in mind overall and long-term interests, and shoulder the mission of promoting Belt and Road cooperation. Political parties should consciously pool the broadest possible array of social forces and more actively guide people’s aspirations, draw on their wisdom, and mobilize their strength. Furthermore, political parties should transform the needs of the people into their concepts, tenets, and aims and formulate plans for implementation that accord to reality. Following the international financial crisis of 2008, political parties the world over have faced profound and complex changes. The role of political parties as a political force to lead the development of the BRI has not yet been fully exerted. Against a backdrop of increasingly intense competition between various parties and the rising of populism, the traditional political party landscape has been shattered; emerging political forces are growing stronger, ideology and policy orientation are less inclusive, and political struggles are more irrational and extreme. All this has damaged the governance abilities of certain political parties and caused many political parties to adopt inward-looking and conservative policies and take fewer responsibilities. As a result, not only do some of these parties fail to shoulder the responsibilities of our age with regard to the joint development of the Belt and Road, but some even seek to interfere with or influence the course of Belt and Road cooperation for their own interests.

General Secretary Xi has emphasized that the CPC is the world’s largest political party, and with great size comes great responsibility. Over the past six years, facing a situation of overlap between changes unseen in a century, and the shift and evolution of world politics and political parties, the CPC has striven to play a leading and exemplary role through its own actions in order to encourage political parties of all countries to assume responsibility in the joint development of the Belt and Road. At the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting, General Secretary Xi solemnly assured the world that China will, as always, contribute to peace, stability, shared world development, and global cultural exchange and mutual learning. He also stated that China will invite 15,000 people from political parties of other countries to visit China over the next five years. During this process, China will uphold the principle of neither importing foreign models nor exporting the China model. Attention will be focused on strengthening the exchange of experience in governing political parties and ruling the nation, and we will help political parties of other countries to improve their governance abilities by providing more ideological and institutional public goods. We will actively explore ways to establish a new type of political party relationship characterized by mutual respect, mutual learning, and seeking common ground while setting aside differences, and we will set up multi-level networks of various forms to facilitate exchange and cooperation by world political parties, so as to generate a powerful force for Belt and Road cooperation and the building of a global community with a shared future. Many political parties of other nations, including the Serbian Progressive Party, Congolese Party of Labour, and National Congress Party of Sudan, have stated that the joint development of the Belt and Road demonstrates the CPC’s concern for the state of the world and its sense of mission, and also represents the common mission of the times bestowed upon the political parties of all countries.

As a Chinese saying tells us, our ambitions should be rooted in perseverance rather than loftiness, and our successes should be enduring, not brief. Standing at a new stage and starting point in the joint development of the Belt and Road, we will, led by the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core and guided by Xi Jinping thought on foreign affairs, continue to make full use of our Party’s diplomatic initiatives, expand channels of dialogue, build up platforms for exchange, and increase areas of cooperation in an effort to guide and motivate more political and social forces to participate in the development of the Belt and Road. We will implement the principles laid out at the Second BRF to promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road and make greater contribution to the building of a global community with a shared future.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 16, 2019)

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal October-December 2019|Vol.11,No.4,Issue No.41


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