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14 Mar, 2012

China Tell West Its “Old Routines” Have Failed in Syria

By Ding Gang (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

March 14, 2012, Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online

China’s diplomacy is very active recently to explore the solution to the Syria issue. After Ambassador Li Huaxin, representative of the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, visited Syria, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming began to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. Some foreign media named China’s move as “turning from the defensive to the offensive”.

Using “offensive” and “defensive” to describe Chinese diplomacy means that what they see are just changes in trend. The more important possibility is China does not only unswervingly safeguard the basic principle of political solutions to similar problems she adheres to, but is trying to find a roadmap of solving similar problems through political approach.

The world situation today is changing dramatically, but paths to solve problems similar to the Syria’s have not changed much. The solution roadmaps are more dominated by the West, who always adopts the old routine of military or economic sanctions. Facts have proved that such routines will not only hurt civilians seriously but also leave the bad results of long-term turmoil and even secession.

Doesn’t the West realize that these routines have seen the end of their rope? Of course no. in fact, the ability to maintain the old routines is directly related to the dominant position of the West in the existing international order. This is why some western countries become more and more impatient and more and more reckless on the sanction issues.

The intense game that appears during finding the path to solve the Syria issue, in essence, is the problem of who dominates the adjustment direction of the “international rule” in the conversion of the old and new patterns, which is directly related to the international political trend in the future.

A new way to maintain peace of a multi-polar world and solve the local or a country’s internal unrest in such a world is necessary and an irresistible trend. China’s adhering to her position of peaceful settlement and efforts of seeking for a method to have all sides involved into a conflict sit down at a negotiating table is to conform to the general trend.

Today’s China enjoys a very different position in the world stage than before, which is irreversible. Many difficult issues exist in the world. China must take a stand explicitly and even participate in solving these issues actively, even if they have no direct relations with China. This is the world’s expectations to China and also the responsibility of China as a big power.

China must come up with a roadmap to solve these problems and promote these issues to be solved in accordance with her way, if she wants to assume more important responsibility in the future international pattern and play a more important role. Doing this is not only to create a more conducive international environment for China’s peaceful development but more to make the multi-polar world pattern can have a more rational and more just order in the future.

From this viewpoint, China’s diplomacy is still facing severe challenges. Besides team construction, theory formulation, resource consolidation, and longer-term strategic planning, the top priority right now is to introduce innovation to the resolve of intractable problems, and transform passivity into initiative. Efforts should also be made to make a norm the positive stance that China has shown in the Syria issue and enrich it with greater foresight.

Diplomacy is a chess game. Skillful players can anticipate many steps. If the opponent predicts two moves and you can do three, four or even five, then you outsmart your rival and have a higher chance of success. However, the game is subject to changes and tricks, so predicting requires stratagem, courage and insight.

We must be equal to the crisis when it occurs, and more importantly, we should go further to equip ourselves with strategies of being brave and skilled in mobilizing the overall situation. Some problems in the world do not evolve unpredictably. If we move earlier, we can guide the development of the situation. Passive defense or counterattacks are not always accompanied by narrow survival. But early moves sometimes do have the potential to change the whole game.