China’s Neighboring Diplomacy in the Xi Jinping Era: New Ideas, New Concepts and New Measures

国际问题研究 | 作者: Zhao Weihua | 时间: 2015-03-31 | 责编: 李敏捷
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Zhao Weihua


On November 30, 2014, a number of respected research organizations – including the Center for Collaborative Innovation on Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights, Center for Asia-Pacific Cooperation and Governance, Fudan University (University Think-Tank of Shanghai), Shanghai Association of International Relations and Center for China’s Relations with Neighboring Countries of Fudan University – jointly organized a Seminar entitled “China’s Neighboring Diplomacy in the Xi Jinping Era: New Ideas, New Concepts and New Measures.” Professor Shi Yuanhua, Director of Fudan University’s Center for China’s Relations with Neighboring Countries, presided over the opening ceremony. Professor Wu Xinbo, Executive Dean of the Fudan University Institute of International Studies, Professor Hu Dekun, Director of the Center for Collaborative Innovation on Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights and Yang Jiemian, President of the Shanghai Association of International Relations, delivered speeches at the Seminar. Over 50 delegates from Fudan University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Institute of International Studies, Wuhan University, China Foreign Affairs University, Zhengzhou University, Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies, Jinan University, Jilin University, Tongji University, Liaoning University, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai Institute of International Studies and media attended the Seminar. The main views articulated by the delegates are summarized as follows:

New Ideas

The experts exchanged views on new ideas and trends in China’s diplomacy from the perspectives of the current era, culture, righteousness and benefits, neighborhood, security and national interest.

The first concept is that of era. It is the common wish and objective of China and its neighboring countries to maintain peace and development in their neighboring environment. The trends of peace and development, as well as cooperation and win-win results, have become very powerful.

Second is the cultural concept. Confucianism is the leading cultural feature. Culture should inherit as well as develop traditions and make Confucianism its leading feature. Efforts should be made to build an Asian Community of Common Destiny. Asian countries should work together to seek and summarize new cultures and thoughts in Asia, neither accepting Western paradigms nor restoring the old paradigm of imperial Chinese tributary system.

The third concept is that of righteousness and benefits. China values affection and righteousness, providing international public goods with unprecedented effort and welcoming neighboring countries to get on the economic development express train. China promotes its development by benefiting neighboring countries, which helps realize cooperation and win-win, mutual benefits.

The fourth concept is the neighborhood concept. China advocates “friendship diplomacy” of “good-neighborly friendship, neighborhood watch,” promoting the construction of an Asian Community of Common Destiny and development of interconnectivity, stressing the idea of “amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.” It is a strategic thought based on geographic region and centered on common interest, which is conducive to promoting the coexistence and common prosperity of China and its neighboring countries.

Fifth is the Asian peace and security concept. China promotes common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, working together with other countries to start new security cooperation. China is pursuing major power status and dreams, disagreeing with the hegemonic logic that a strong nation is bound to seek hegemony. China adheres to sovereign equality, common security, common development, cooperation and win-win results, inclusiveness, justice and righteousness. In addition, China emphasizes that it will pursue the path of peaceful development and seek the common security of all countries through cooperation and common development.

Sixth is the national interest concept. China coordinates domestic and international overall situations, working hard on national defense and having a strong army, firmly safeguarding national core interests. In the process of safeguarding sovereignty, security and development, China must coordinate between domestic and international situations, land and sea developments, “powerful country dreams” and “strong army dreams” as well as safeguarding sovereign rights, peace and development.

New Challenges and Strategy

Regarding the new challenges facing China’s neighboring security and diplomacy, experts mainly exchanged views on Xi Jinping’s Asian new security concept, the transformation of China’s neighboring diplomacy and its new challenges.

First, China’s current neighboring diplomacy is facing a transformation in style, layout and strategic direction. The new era will have a new security concept, which will become one of the fundamental principles of international relations.

Second, the Asian new security concept represents the development of the theory of a harmonious world. Its main content includes cooperation based on the recognition of diversity, cooperation based on equality and democracy, and seeking win-win results based on mutual coordination and cooperation.

Third, to build a new model of major-country relations between China and the United States and enhance strategic mutual trust will help reduce differences, control disputes with relevant neighboring countries and safeguard China’s core interests.

Fourth, given China’s diplomatic transformation, it is necessary for China to cultivate a group of strategic pivot countries that will help safeguard China’s core interests.

Fifth, China’s strategic neighboring diplomacy should include: having confidence without wavering, grabbing opportunities, adjusting pressure, taking initial actions to expand westwards, coordinating rights and safeguarding stability.

The Initiative of “One Belt, One Road

During the seminar, experts exchanged views on the strategic concept of “One Belt, One Road” from the perspective of real opportunities and challenges as well as historical experiences.

First, the world economic center is moving to Asia and the Pacific. The development of world economic integration and peace and has become the common pursuit of all countries. This provides the global environment with an opportunity to build the “One Belt, One Road.” Meanwhile, it is also the natural requirement of China’s enlarged opening-up and diplomatic adjustment to build the “One Belt, One Road”.

Second, the United States’ Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy, progress of the TPP and low political trust among countries situated along the Belt and Road pose tremendous challenges to development.

Third, “One Belt, One Road” is of great practical significance to coordinate China’s border development and its neighboring diplomacy in the new era. This concept is conducive to increasing the width and depth of China’s border development, promoting trade and economic mutual benefits and interconnectivity between China’s border area and its neighboring countries, and bringing new growth to the further advancement of China’s neighboring diplomacy.

Fourth, China’s neighboring diplomacy should draw energy from its historical legacy.

The Maritime Power Strategy

Experts exchanged views on maritime power strategy from the perspective of the new ideas regarding safeguarding maritime rights as well as non-traditional security cooperation.

First, safeguarding maritime rights serves the objectives of “Two Centenary Goals” as well as China’s maritime power strategy. It is necessary to have top-level design and bottom-line thinking with regards to specific ideas. Attention should be paid to the construction of maritime rights legal and safeguarding mechanisms. It is also important to strengthen maritime crisis management and construct maritime trust measures.

Second, to provide non-traditional security public services to neighboring countries through non-traditional maritime security cooperation will increase the legitimacy of China’s maritime strategy and win the support of neighboring countries.

Third, China should combine regional cooperation initiatives and public goods provided to neighboring countries, while also cultivating strategic pivot countries. China should make related countries truly believe in its goodwill through concrete actions.

New Innovation

In the Seminar, experts also exchanged views on the new innovation of China’s neighboring economic diplomacy from the perspectives of China and APEC, interconnectivity between China and its neighboring countries, the “free-ride view,” and environmental governance of “Silk Road Economic Belt.”

First, the 2014 Beijing APEC summit was a crucial event to forge the “Asia-Pacific Community of Common Destiny” with collective development and prosperity. It epitomized the strategic thinking of China’s Asia-Pacific diplomacy.

Second, China needs to coordinate domestic and international overall situations, actively working together with all parties to promote Asia and the Pacific to play a greater role in economic recovery and growth.

Third, economic and environmental construction should proceed in tandem with one another. Central Asian countries are facing an environmental crisis. To actively carry out ecological and environmental cooperation with Central Asian countries offers a great opportunity to promote and deepen the economic cooperation among countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt.


Source: China International Studies (Chinese Version), January/February, 2015