Foreign policy-making with Chinese characteristics 03-06-2004 16:55

The past year presented the new generation of Chinese leaders with a series of severe challenges. And through a series of diplomatic activities, the leadership projected a new image of China to the world -- one of greater maturity and self-confidence.

Observers say there were two primary characteristics in China's foreign policymaking during the past year. The first being that peripheral diplomacy has become a priority. At the ASEAN summit last year, China strengthened relations with its neighbors to the southeast. It became the first non-ASEAN country to establish strategic relations with the regional group. And China also promoted ties with its neighbors to the west, India and Pakistan. China signed a series of documents for future cooperation with both countries. Further more, the regional intergovernmental group, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established its secretariat in Beijing. These events signaled that China has been taking more responsibility in regional affairs.

Xu Jian, vice president of Chinese Institute of Int'l Studies, said, "China's peripheral diplomacy is carrying a heavy weight. And there are new concepts in it. Historically, China has stressed maintaining friendly relations with its neighbors. Now China is putting more emphasis on helping stabilize surrounding areas to achieve prosperity. "

Analysts say another characteristic of China's diplomacy is its emergence as an active player in the international arena. This has been reflected in China's role as mediator in solving disputes. China has been successful in bringing the parties concerned to the negotiating table on the Korean nuclear issue. And China's new image has won recognition from the international community.

Xu also said, "Actually, Chinese leaders have always advocated putting differences aside and solving disputes by peaceful means. This approach to issues has built a good reputation for China. And it also helps China to promote its relations with other countries. "

Many countries say that their relationship with China is better than ever now. Already a regional power, China will continue to draw increasing attention from the international community.

China watchers say the primary goal of Chinese diplomacy is to serve the country's strategic interest. They also point out that China's primary national interest is to retain a peaceful environment for economic development. Since this common interest is shared by other countries in the world, there is a growing sense of optimism about China's future development.


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