Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

New vitality in peripheral diplomacy

By Chen Qi and Guan Chuanjing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-23 07:25

China is emphasizing the importance of relations with its neighbors, and is seeking to build a community of shared destiny with them

In China's diplomacy, neighboring regions play a key role due to their geographical nearness and frequent interactions. Since the new leadership took office in 2012, it has paid special attention to peripheral diplomacy through a series of formal visits to Central, Southeast and South Asian nations, and raised new concepts concerning China's neighbors; it is clear there have been some changes in China's peripheral diplomatic strategy.

The first is the emphasis placed on the importance of neighboring regions rather than regional and global powers. An emerging power itself, China has to interact with big powers such as the United States, Japan, Russia and India, and its relations with its neighbors are intertwined with them.

Of all these powers, the most important and influential is the US, which has an alliance system in Asia-Pacific region and has been implementing a pivot to Asia policy for quite some time. The relationship with the US is an essential part of China's diplomacy. But having raised the concept of a new type of major-country relationship, the new leadership of China has creatively escaped the old thinking of confrontation between major powers, and hopes to maintain a stable relationship with the US in order to manage crises.

At the same time, unlike past practices when too much emphasis was placed on relations with the big powers, China is also placing importance on its peripheral diplomacy, and its efforts in this regard include easing tensions, propelling regional integration, and promoting security cooperation with neighboring countries and regions. China has realized its diplomacy toward its neighbors is as important as its diplomacy toward the big powers, and it is devoting more time and resources to them.

Another change is in China's economic diplomacy. Seeking mutually beneficial relations with its neighbors, China has positively endeavored to enlarge trade and attract outside investment since 1978. But China's new leadership has taken this a step further by putting forward the principle of "letting neighboring countries benefit from China's development" and emphasizing both moral principles and economic benefits in China's peripheral diplomacy.

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