Jia Xiudong: Xi’s Southeast Asia visit heralds a new era of Chinese diplomacy

CGTN.com | 作者: Jia Xiudong | 时间: 2017-11-15 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
Adjust font size: + -


Fresh from last month’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and last week’s reception of US President Donald Trump in Beijing, President Xi Jinping attended the 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam and then paid state visits to Vietnam and the Laos from November 10 to 14, opening a unique window into understanding China’s diplomacy going forward in the “new era,” proclaimed by Xi at the Party’s congress and its implications for the Asia-Pacific region and the world. 


Throughout the trip, the theme of a “new era” resounded in Xi’s speeches and remarks at the multilateral forum and on bilateral occasions. According to Xi, thanks to decades of hard work and building on past successes, China is now at a new historical juncture that has seen a continued rise in China’s international influence, ability to inspire, and power to shape that sees China moving closer to the world’s center stage and making greater contributions to mankind. 


A China that has crossed the threshold into a new era whose overriding goal is socialist modernization and national rejuvenation will continue to focus its efforts on domestic development while seeking a bigger and more proactive role in international affairs. 


Some foreign pundits opined that under Xi, China’s foreign policy has been and will continue to be a departure from Deng Xiaoping’s reform era dictum to “hide our capacities and bide our time; and never claim leadership.” That’s a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Deng’s idea in the first place. To a large degree it is also a result of mistranslation of Deng’s use of the Chinese idiom “tao guang yang hui” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

At the end of the Cold War era, Deng’s use of the idiom actually meant that China, as a guiding principle, should focus on development – getting its own house in order, avoiding ideology-based foreign policy, and not assuming a leader’s role in the so-called “socialist camp.” In this sense, “to keep a low profile” or “to be self-effacing,” which is consistent with traditional Chinese culture and social values, is a much better, more to the point translation than “hide our capacities and bide our time,” which indicates a well-kept scheme to wait for a “blood-for-blood” moment that has never been a policy implication of Deng’s idea.


With growing national strength and international outreach, China should and will undertake consequential international responsibilities. In his remarks at Session I of APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, Xi stated that “a China that enjoys stronger growth and interacts more with the world and whose people have a greater sense of fulfillment will surely bring more opportunities and make greater contributions to the Asia-Pacific [region] and the world at large.” 

To fulfill the dual mission of domestic development and international responsibility, Xi is pursuing “major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics” which aims to foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind. 


During the Southeast Asia tour, Xi championed the development of a “community with a shared future for mankind,” and encouraged the evolution of the global governance system. The notion of building a “community with a shared future for mankind,” or a “community of common destiny for mankind,” – both official translations of the same Chinese phrase “ren lei ming yun gong tong ti” – was developed by Xi to illustrate China’s worldview and underline the primary aim of Chinese foreign policy. 


Xi used the phrase several times in his work report to the 19th CPC National Congress and “working to build a community with a shared future for mankind” has been enshrined in the revised party constitution, indicating the pivotal and defining significance of the phrase for China’s diplomacy in the new era.


With this notion, China believes that all countries enjoy common interests despite all kinds of differences and disputes amongst them. Xi holds that the dream of the Chinese people is closely connected with the dreams of the peoples of other countries; the Chinese Dream can be realized only in a peaceful international environment and under a stable international order. Therefore, fostering an international environment that enables the peaceful development of China is in line with the notion of building a community with a shared future for mankind. 


To build this community, Xi has urged the balanced treatment of globalization and has called for a new form of international relations. “Over the last few decades, economic globalization has contributed significantly to global growth. Indeed, it has become an irreversible historical trend,” said Xi at the APEC leadership meeting. China acknowledges that globalization is like a double-edged sword but insists that closing the border of a country is not the right answer to some challenges brought about by globalization. 


Xi advocated for an open Asia-Pacific economy, promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and making economic globalization more open, inclusive and balanced to benefit different countries and people. A new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation is crucial to ensure that all countries join hands to expand the benefits of globalization while addressing whatever challenges it might entail. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a signature diplomatic program of President Xi’s, is an example of the new approach.


Xi’s first overseas trips have been closely followed by international media trying to decipher Xi’s “new era” foreign policy vision. Actions speak louder than words. Xi’s visit is part of China’s efforts to build a global network of partnerships involving major countries, developing countries and neighboring countries. The message sent through the trip is that China not only has the confidence and ability to build itself into a strong, modern socialist country but also has the aspiration to work with other countries for lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity in the world. That is the essence of President Xi Jinping’s idea of pursuing major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. 


In addition, it should be of no surprise that China will continue to defend its core national interests that hinge on China’s sovereignty, security and development. Xi has stated on numerous occasions that China will never pursue development at the expense of others' interests, but nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests; no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines the country’s interests. Standing up against such kind of infringement upon China’s core interests should not be labeled as Chinese diplomacy being “assertive.” As for existing international differences and disputes, China continues to adhere to the principle of settlement through peaceful means featuring dialogue and consultation as well as shelving the differences while seeking common ground as is the case with the South China Sea issue.




Jia Xiudong is a Senior Research Fellow of China Institute of International Studies, CIIS.  





Source: CGTN.com, November 14, 2017.