Conference on International Situation and China's Diplomacy 2014

China International Studies | 作者: Chen Xulong & Zhu Zhongbo | 时间: 2015-06-11 | 责编: 李敏捷
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On December 24 and 25, 2014, the China Institute of International Studies and China Foundation for International Studies jointly held the “Conference on International Situation and China’s Diplomacy 2014” in Beijing. Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a speech at the conference. Over 200 delegates from 12 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, five ministries, 42 academic institutions and foreign exchange organizations, as well as over 20 different media organizations were present. The delegates exchanged views on the international situation and relations between major powers, international and regional hot spots, and accomplishments and challenges in great power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. The main views can be summarized as follows:


International Situation


Geopolitical factors have become incr-easingly prominent in international politics. Last year, 2014, was a year that marked the return of geopolitics.

  First, the Ukraine crisis once again made Europe the focus of a geopolitical game. The Ukraine crisis tore open the relationship between Russia and the West. Their standoff was the most intense since the end of the Cold War more than two decades ago. The European security system was fragmented and security dividend is more fragile than ever. Europe became more dependent on the United States. The old European security model of promoting internal integration and externally depending on NATO was broken. The European public is concerned about the fall of a new “Iron Curtain.” Ukraine was on the brink of bankruptcy and the Russian economy fell into trouble. Ukraine, Russia and Europe appeared to be the biggest losers in the crisis. The United States became the biggest winner, wooing Ukraine, weakening Russia and increasing its presence in Europe through the crisis.

     Second, struggle dominated the geopolitical game of Asia and Pacific. The United States intensified its Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy, supporting Japan, catering to India and checking China. The United States became more involved in maritime disputes in East Asia, revealing its intent to dominate the security, economic and political order of Asia and the Pacific.

     Third, the relationship between the United States and Cuba thawed. It was helpful for the United States to improve its ties with Latin America and hedge the penetration of outside powers into its “backyard.”

China and the United States functioned as twin-engines of the world economy. The recovery of the world economy was weak and more divided.

The United States economy has come out of the shadow of the financial crisis and great recession, entering the stage of accelerated growth and becoming the sole highlight among the Western economies. According to estimates made by Federal Reserve, the U.S. economic growth rate was between 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent in 2014. It will be between 2.6 percent to 3.0 percent in 2015, and between 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent in 2017.

Just recovering from the sovereign debt crisis, the European economy was burdened by the Ukraine crisis. The growth of the European economy was faint and its troubles have spread from South Europe to North Europe. In 2014, the economic growth rate of the Eurozone fell to 0.8 percent, even around 0.5 percent, which dropped short of forecast.

The Japanese economy failed to cross a structural threshold, approaching recession. Its recovery lacked strength and so-called “Abenomics” is facing tests. Emerging economies continue to move downward, being stabilized slightly. Since their advantages remain constant, it is hard to reverse their rise.

The Chinese economy entered a “new normal,” experiencing extra-ordinary performance in the globe and among developing countries.

The world economy shifted from one-engine drive to twin-engine drive. In 2014, the contribution rate of China and the United States to the world economic growth was 52.8 percent totally, and 30.5 percent and 22.3 percent respectively. From 2015 to 2019, their contribution rate to world economic growth will remain above 42 percent.

Awareness of crisis management between the great powers grew. Promi-nent changes appeared in the normal “cooperation and competition” in the relations between great powers. Competition among great powers is becoming more intense, now focusing on a struggle over rule and order. Meanwhile, the crisis management capabilities of great powers have been strengthened. Russia and the West faced each other down in the Ukraine crisis. The United States regarded Russia, ISIS and Ebola as the three main threats to the world. That said, neither Russia nor the West wanted to engage in direct military confrontation. China and the United States signed relevant agreements on “two mutual trust mechanisms,” which became remarkable fruits of the two countries’ efforts on crisis management and risk prevention. The Sino-Japanese “four-point consensus in principle” brought positive change to their bilateral ties, conducive to the establishment of a maritime crisis management mecha-nism.

The international cyberspace pat-tern has become increasingly multi-polar. The further multi-polarization of cyberspace was reflected in four aspects. First, American cyber power suffered heavy losses. Since the Snowden revelations, the United States’ cyber war capabilities have been exposed. Its information technology industry faced investigations and boycotts.

Second, the power of Europe was awakened. Germany, France and Britain will not closely follow Ame-rican cyberspace strategy and policy any longer.

Third, Asia became a hot spot. Russian cyber troops will gain fighting capabilities by 2017. Japan overhauled its cyber war apparatus. The Republic of Korea started to develop its offensive cyber war capabilities, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) now regards Internet as the “third strategic means” in addition to nuclear weapons and missiles.

Fourth, the strategic cyberspace relationship between China and the United States became the focus of their political ties. The cyberspace conflict replaced the Taiwan issue as one of the core topics between China and the United States.

ISIS has grown and expanded rapidly, but it is far from attaining success. The rise of ISIS broke the political transformation of the Middle East and North Africa, threatening world security. It is urgent to have global cooperation to contain terrorist expansion. Members of ISIS are extreme in ideology and ruthless in their means.

ISIS is limited in terms of military and economic power with bleak prospects. However it will be hard to eradicate ISIS in the short term. First, ISIS rose under the backdrop of wider chaos in the Middle East. Until the regional order is restored, the vitality of ISIS will not be eradicated. Second, ISIS stresses the fundamental doctrines of Islam, enjoying some support in the Islamic world. Third, ISIS carefully chooses its military enemies carefully, refraining from directly challenging the interests of regional and non-regional powers such as Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United States, China and Russia. Fourth, forces against ISIS have divergent considerations. It is therefore difazmited.

In addition, a number of trans-political and geopolitical issues, such as the Ebola outbreak and MH17 incident, have accumulated one after another, making global governance more burdensome.


China’s Diplomacy:

Opportunities and Challenges


The leading, shaping and coordinat-ing capabilities of China’s diplomacy in-creased notably.  China’s diplomatic capacity in 2014 was outstanding in three areas.

     First, it has leading capabilities. Taking advantage of its opportunity to host two important international conferences and a series of bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activities, China promoted the Asian security concept, the Asia-Pacific dream, raising international resonance to its voice and winning support for its home ground diplomacy.

     Second, it is capable of shaping conditions. Taking advantage of the scale effect of host diplomacy, China perfected its diplomatic layout, activated regional security cooperation mechanisms, enriched a new model major-country relations, enhanced its neighboring diplomacy, effectively managed tensions with Japan as well as Vietnam, and showcased the charm of its summit diplomacy.

     Third, China exhibited its internal and external coordination capabilities. China made plans in advance of important multilateral diplomatic events and made adjust-ments during those activities. China ensured that old and new media, think tanks and experts played their role.

   And lastly, China improved its advantage in coordinating different parties and concentrating power on diplomacy.

In addition, China promoted changes in the international discourse regarding foreign aid. China, India, Chile, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico increased the amount of foreign aid that they give, which garnered the attention of the world. Particularly the financial commitment of “One Belt, One Road” and the appearance of the Chinese model of foreign aid show that developing countries now have more alternatives. In the international discourse surrounding foreign aid, developed countries attach political conditions over numerous years, em-phasizing transparency, democracy, human rights and good governance.  

Developing countries such as China stress the dominance of recipient countries, respect for diversified development and the importance of infrastructure investment. Although developed countries still enjoy great influence in the international discourse surrounding foreign aid, the influence of developing countries has increased phenomenally.

The BRICS Development Bank helped mend and complemented the international financial system. The integration of the BRICS Development Bank into the international financial system is mainly reflected in two as-pects.

First, the BRICS Development Bank was created based on the principle of democratized, equivalent power, which is in contrast to the Bretton Woods System based on power. The BRICS Development Bank started a new system, posing a challenge to the established and hegemonic inter-national financial system.

Second, the BRICS Development Bank pays attention to infrastructure development in developing countries. No political criteria are attached to loans. Also the internal affairs of recipient countries are free from intervention. The BRICS Development Bank adopts the principle of localization. Each country proposes projects according to their own experiences and needs, and the BRICS Development Bank then provides support. In contrast, the World Bank attaches political conditions such as reform and democracy to its loans, paying little attention to infrastructure development in developing countries. The BRICS Development Bank can be regarded as a significant repair to and constructive complement to the World Bank.

Potential disturbances and chal-lenges persisted in the Sino-European relations.

First, the Europe did not want China and Russia to remain too close, given the lasting tensions between Europe and Russia. Russia may be the third party factor in the development of Sino-European relations.

Second, Europe was concerned that the deve-lopment of relations be-tween China and Central European countries could impact their unity and cohesion.

Third, issues such as human rights and values could still disturb Sino-European relations. Some European officials commented irresponsibly on issues such as the South China Sea and the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong, neither of which was conducive to the sound development of Sino-European relations.


 Source: China International Studies, Jan./Feb. 2015, page 124-128