Thursday, 29 December 2011 13:15
BEIJING - In a year that began with an upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa and is about to end with a runaway debt crisis that has swept Europe and dragged down the world economy, China has continued to serve as a stabilizer for world peace and stability.
Upholding its five guiding principles of peaceful coexistence, China has urged reconciliation and promoted negotiations in conflict areas from Sudan to the Middle East, provided timely aid to drought-hit Africa and other disaster regions, and served as an engine for world economic recovery.
David Shambaugh, professor of China Policy Program with the George Washington University, said China's diplomacy in 2011 "has made tangible improvements."
*UNPRECEDENTED "LEADER DIPLOMACY"
Generally speaking, dialogues between countries' leaders play an efficient role in expounding their foreign policies, relieving tensions and most expectedly, achieving consensus. Meanwhile, a leader's charisma can do a lot to help improve bilateral relations.
In this eventful year, Chinese leaders made frequent overseas tours and attended various international gatherings such as the G20 summit in Cannes, APEC summit in Honolulu and East Asia summit in Bali to exchange views with their counterparts on bilateral and multilateral affairs, which greatly enhanced China's overall relations with the world.
At the beginning of the year, President Hu Jintao paid a crucial visit to the United States, launching the country's cooperative and responsible diplomacy in the year.
During Hu's visit, deemed a "notable success" by Shambough, the world's largest developing country and the biggest developed one agreed to establish a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, setting the tone for China-U.S. ties.
In 2011, China's top three leaders -- Hu, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao, all visited Russia, China's most important neighbor. Both sides decided to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership based on equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and lasting friendship.
As for China-EU ties, both sides have carried out tangible and practical cooperation throughout the year and maintained steady development in bilateral trade.
Despite the impact of the global economic crisis, China has expanded cooperation with its neighbors during the outgoing year and is becoming the largest export market for an increasing number of countries, and has become the largest trading partner of most countries in the region.
Thanks to the visits by Chinese leaders, China has deepened its mutual political trust, promoted cooperation and exchanges, and furthered trade ties with African, Latin American and other Asian countries. It also hosted a summit meeting of BRICS countries and enhanced the bloc's cooperation and coordination.
*HIGHLIGHTS OF CHINA'S DIPLOMACY IN 2011
Diplomacy is the oldest realistic means to protect a country's interests in the international arena. Its nature remains unchanged even today although its expressions are more diverse than before.
In 2011, China set a prior task to protect its citizens and enterprises stranded in conflict areas in Libya before unrest in the country escalated to a civil war.
The Chinese government decisively evacuated more than 35,000 Chinese nationals from Libya, making the largest evacuation since the end of the Cold War.
The Chinese government rented large cruise liners, cargo ships and fishing boats to bring back its overseas workers under the protection of a naval vessel. Meanwhile, planes and buses were also used to transport evacuees.
China used its power to evacuate its citizens rather than shouting words, said Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies of the Council on Foreign Relations, in his article titled "Who's the Superpower? Lessons from Libya," reluctantly admitting that Washington needed to "take lessons from Beijing."
Still on the Libya issue, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China played a mediatory role and appealed for a peaceful settlement to the Libyan unrest, which contrasted with Western countries' war rhetoric.
Yan Xuetong, head of the Institute of Modern International Relations of Tsinghua University noted that international interventions should be applied only to relieve tensions and avoid war rather than to exacerbate domestic riots by supporting militant forces.
In fact, Chinese diplomacy has always followed this principle. On Oct. 4, China, together with Russia, vetoed a western-drafted UN solution on violence-stricken Syria.
China's permanent representative to the UN, Li Baodong, explained afterward that the international community should provide constructive help to Syria to halt its violence and conflicts while respecting the country's independence and sovereignty and territorial integrity.
On the issue of South China Sea, China's policy is appropriate and successful, said Wang Fan, professor of the Institute of International Relations of China Foreign Affairs University.
In face of Washington's high-profile trumpeting of the Pivot to Asia strategy, China upheld its principle of seeking to settle the dispute through bilateral consultations, arranged face-to-face dialogues with countries involved and stated its peaceful stance and cooperative willingness through ASEAN and other multilateral summits, and intensified communication with the United States.
By doing so, it successfully avoided an escalation of the dispute and stabilized the situation, he said.
On international political issues, China has practised both responsible and humanitarian diplomacy, trying to maintain regional and international peace and stability, and help the sick and starved in many poor developing countries.
In the outgoing year, Africa has suffered an unprecedented drought due to extreme weather conditions, which has left about 10,000 people dead and still threatens more than 3.7 million others who live in the region of "Horn of Africa."
China has provided prompt help to its African friends in need, with financial and food aid accumulatively worth about 69.92 million U.S. dollars. The Chinese government has also donated 16 million dollars to Somalia through the UN World Food Program.
To help African countries develop their agriculture, China has launched more than a hundred agricultural infrastructure projects in about 40 countries on the continent, sent 104 senior experts to intensify agricultural technology exchanges and trained 6,000 agricultural workers for Africa.
East Asia is facing a new situation after the demise of top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Il on Dec. 17.
Chinese leaders visited the DPRK embassy in Beijing to express their condolences and reiterated China's policy to continuously consolidate and develop the traditional friendly relationship with the DPRK.
They also said maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is in the common interests of all parties concerned.
*OUTLOOK FOR CHINESE DIPLOMACY IN 2012
The year of 2012 is likely to be another messy year. Fierce protests across the world are expected to continue and the chronical debt crises are expected to weigh on the prospects of eurozone countries and the United States. And most importantly, the world's major powers such as the United States, France, and Russia will enter an election year.
In face of various risks and challenges, China will stick to the same core principle in its diplomatic efforts to serve the international peace and prosperity as well as its national interests.
The new year will be tougher as the United States has become more jittery over its relative decline, but it does not mean conflicts between the two countries will deepen, Wang Fan said, adding that China will not gloat over the crises in Europe and the United States and will follow the spirit of cooperation to provide due help.
At the international level, China will continue to be a stabilizer to world peace by assuming more obligations and responsibilities.
"As a responsible member of the international community, China abides by international law and the generally recognized principles governing international relations, and eagerly fulfills its international responsibility," says a government white paper titled "China's Peaceful Development" issued on Sept. 6.
"China has actively participated in reforming international systems, formulating international rules and addressing global issues," the document says. "It supports the development of other developing countries, and works to safeguard world peace and stability."
The white paper adds that China will assume more international responsibilities which match its national strength.
Wang noted that it is unrealistic to exaggerate and overstate China's international obligations.
Observers say that as a responsible member of the international community, China in 2012 will continue to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, work steadfastly to help build a harmonious world, promote new thinking on security featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, as well as enhance regional cooperation and good-neighborly ties to create a favorable environment for its peaceful development.
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