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19 Mar, 2013

Planning vital to future of China’s diplomacy

By Sun Ru (China Daily)

Beijing, 2013-03-15 – Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized the importance of planning in tackling situations both at home and abroad, and to lay a solid foundation for the country’s peaceful development. This, he said, should be the guiding principle for China’s diplomacy.

The complicated domestic and foreign situations have created new challenges for China. The country has become the world’s second largest economy, but it faces a harsher international environment today because some people are questioning its peaceful development path, sensationalizing the “China threat” theory and forcing it to shoulder more responsibilities than it can.

The “pivot-to-Asia” strategy of the United States is squeezing China’s space by prompting some of its neighbors to align with Washington on the pretext of security concerns.

Some developments in the Asia-Pacific region have affected China’s diplomacy and domestic situation. The islands disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and the Philippines in the South China Sea have had an impact on public opinion in China. That’s why China has to pay more attention to the US’ strategy, the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and its relations with Southeast Asian countries to create a favorable international environment for its development.

Objectively speaking, China is encountering diplomatic difficulties because it has reached a stage of development where opportunities are usually accompanied by challenges and conflicts. So to avoid further frictions, China should deepen cooperation with other countries.

China’s reform has hit a bottleneck and the international environment has become more unstable and complicated. As a result, the correlation between domestic and foreign situations is more clearly evident than ever, posing new challenges for China to deal with domestic and international situations.

The impact of international developments on China’s domestic situation has amplified remarkably. China’s economic ties with the world have deepened owing to, among other things, its foreign trade and it has become an integral part of the international community.

But the global financial crisis and shrinking Western markets have harmed China’s foreign-bound trade and investment, and the quantitative easing policies of some Western countries have aggravated inflation in China.

Besides, the development of social media and increasing public call for social justice and fairness, along with the demand for environmental protection, have taken Chinese network users closer to world affairs.

China’s domestic politics has a greater impact on the international situation today, and the international community has come to realize that China’s development benefits the world and its economic growth is helpful for the global economy.

Taking all factors into consideration in its overall planning has been a long-term feature of China’s diplomacy. Now that it faces new challenges, China has to make greater efforts to strengthen its strategy, bolster its comprehensive planning.

For that, it is important for Chinese diplomats to have an in-depth understanding of domestic and international situations, and be clear about China’s role in the reform and development of international affairs. China’s diplomatic strategy must be in conformity with its national interests, and its actions should be based on both domestic and international situations. For instance, the diplomats have to find out the true intention of Washington’s “pivot-to-Asia” strategy. Is it to contain China? Or is it to regain its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region?

The diplomats also have to determine whether the US is truly in decline, and how the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue will affect Northeast Asia? And more importantly, they have to find out whether the time is ripe to resolve the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

Beijing has to fight to get a greater say in international matters to promote mutual understanding and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world in order to cash in on the available opportunities.

China should learn to make maximum use of the available resources in the fields of politics, economy, military, science, network and culture to translate its diplomatic strategy into concrete results. For this, it can fall back on its experience in maintaining stable relations with Southeast Asian nations.

It is of utmost importance that China combines its interests with that of the whole world. China’s diplomatic policies still do not include some common problems confronting the world, though its peaceful development is in line with the common interests of all human beings.

China has reached a stage where it has to fulfill its responsibilities as a big power to improve the well-being of all human beings and thus win the world’s confidence in return.

The author is a researcher with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing.