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Focus turns to good neighborly relations

Focus turns to good neighborly relations

Updated: 2012-03-08 08:17

By Tan Yingzi (China Daily)

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Editor's note: There's no better time to raise questions than the NPC/CPPCC sessions, which bring together China's top policymakers. China Daily asks experts from different countries what they wish they could ask the members and delegates about topical issues. Reporter Tan Yingzi gathers the answers.

Shada Islam, head of policy, Friends of Europe based in Brussels, would like to ask about Chinese policymakers' comment on China-US relations and especially America's increased political and military presence in Asia-Pacific.

Amid growing security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, forging a better relationship with neighboring countries has become the top priority in China's foreign affairs this year.

During the ongoing two sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the central government and top diplomats agree that Beijing needs to give more attention and allocate more resources to resolving issues with bordering nations.

Premier Wen Jiabao mentioned neighboring relations first when talking about China's diplomacy in his work report on Monday, followed by relationships with developing countries and big countries.

He said China will improve its good relations with neighbors, actively participate in cooperative mechanisms and deepen regional cooperation to build a peaceful, stable and equal environment with mutual trust and benefits.

In the past, China has paid great attention to handling ties with powerhouses, such as the United States. This is the first time Beijing put relations with neighbors as the top priority in foreign policy, Wu Dawei, Chinese Special Representative on Korean Peninsula Affairs and a member of CPPCC, noted during the panel discussion.

In recent years, China has seen a rise in security and territorial issues coming from bordering countries: the nuclear program on the Korean Peninsula; the disputes on the South China Sea; the border with India, as well as the stability of Afghanistan.

"Most of our current diplomatic challenges come from our neighboring countries," said another CPPCC member Zhang Zhijun, China's deputy foreign minister.

"It calls for our greater investment in this area."

In the Asia-Pacific region, China's relationship with the United States has also been put to the test.

The Obama administration has shifted its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region, while China also has been expanding its economic interest in the area.

For instance, the US interfered in South China Sea territorial disputes among China and other countries in the region by calling these matters of US national interest.

"If the US puts more energy in this region after its withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is very likely they will make more problems for us," said Ma Canrong, former Chinese ambassador to Germany.

"We should prepare for that as well."

Zhou Wenzhong, former Chinese ambassador to the US, urged Washington to give up the Cold War mentality and said the two countries need to increase strategic trust.

"Americans should focus on China's peaceful development and increase discussions with us," he told China Daily.

Due to their different cultures and political systems, it is normal that the two countries would have differences, but we should put these aside and work on the issues of common interest, he said.

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