Op-Ed Contributors

Fruitful presidential diplomacy

By Li Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-21 07:54
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Chinese leader's efforts at nuclear security and BRIC summits display responsibility and people-first principle

President Hu Jintao's recent attendance at the Nuclear Security Summit and his participation in the second summit of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) members have further showcased China's positive political position as a responsible power with increasing international influence.

At the nuclear security summit in Washington, the first multilateral talks on the safety of the world's nuclear material in the 21st century, the Chinese president delivered a speech calling for joint efforts from global members to deal with nuclear challenges and promote joint peace and development. This was the first time for a Chinese leader to make such a stance on global nuclear security on a multilateral occasion, drawing wide attention and positive reaction in the international community.

In his speech, Hu clarified the country's policies on global nuclear security and reiterated its long-cherished commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

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The policy is an extension of China's long-standing national defense strategy, one based on self-defense and peace. Such a stance indicates the country's firm, political wish to maintain global nuclear security and resolve international disputes in a peaceful and pragmatic manner. The spotlight cast by the international community on China on this issue also indicates the indispensable role that the country has played in settling a string of global issues. China's positive gesture has set a good example for other nuclear powers and this, if followed by other countries, will certainly make mankind's pursuit of nuclear security or a world free of nuclear weapons an attainable goal.

President Hu put forward a series of proposals on international cooperation to promote global nuclear security. His reiteration of China's efforts to ensure the safety of nuclear materials within its territory will contribute to nuclear safety. Hu also vowed for new contributions by China to push for further international cooperation on the non-proliferation and peaceful utilization of nuclear energy.

At the sidelines of the two-day nuclear security summit, President Hu met with his US counterpart Barack Obama amid brewing tensions between the two countries. These followed Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese opposition and Washington's tougher economic stances on Beijing, among other bilateral disputes. Along with his participation in the nuclear security summit, Hu's meeting with Obama demonstrated China's active efforts to improve strained relations with the world's largest developed country, as well as Beijing's matured and responsible diplomatic approach on the international stage.

The meeting between the leaders in a pragmatic and candid manner is expected to reverse the downward trend that has emerged in bilateral relations over the past months. During the meeting, President Hu put forward a number of practical proposals on improving relations. In response, Obama reaffirmed US respect for China's core interests, saying that Washington will cautiously handle some sensitive issues in bilateral relations. The goodwill displayed on both sides will undoubtedly play a constructive role in helping to improve bilateral relations and is expected to further increase the possibility of a state visit by President Hu to the US this year.

During their meeting, the first one this year, both leaders also experienced smooth communication on the Iran nuclear issue and the yuan exchange rate to reach some common ground. Such consultation between the heads of two nuclear powers on Teheran's nuclear program, a long-standing and thorny international issue, is beneficial to world security. The bilateral reiteration of dialogue and cooperation as the main channel to resolve disputes on the yuan exchange rate has also helped avoid an escalated confrontation between the two economic powerhouses. Handling the issue properly will be key to a further warming of Sino-US relations.

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