Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

New thinking in China's diplomacy

By Xu Jin and Du Zheyuan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-11 07:29

Country has to adjust its strategies and become more active, so as to meet the needs of the times and protect its core interests

For decades, China's diplomacy has been shaped by a mindset that include keeping a low profile, nonalignment, laying an incomparable emphasis on the relationship with the United States, and that diplomacy should serve domestic economic development. Such kinds of thinking, first put forward in the 1950s to the 1970s, had until recently seemed to be set in stone. However, with the growth of China's comprehensive capabilities and change of security conditions, some of them no longer meet the needs of times, which has called for new thinking.

At a working conference on peripheral diplomacy last October, President Xi Jinping delivered a speech that indicated future trends of China's diplomatic strategy. The leadership's diplomatic moves this year have shown the old way of thinking can no longer define the country's foreign policy.

In his speech, Xi laid out a more proactive approach to China's peripheral diplomacy, which means it no longer needs to keep such a low profile on any issue, which was adopted three decades ago when China was recovering from economic difficulties. Over the past year or two, visits by top leaders between China and neighboring countries have been high on the agenda, except with Japan.

Although the relationship with the US remains China's most important bilateral relationship, more emphasis is being put on relations with neighboring countries and regions. China has already realized that its continued rise will be impossible without first of all building a favorable neighboring environment.

China used to avoid taking the lead in regional affairs, but that policy often encounters awkwardness considering its regional influence today. With its rise, China must realize that taking the lead in regional affairs is not a privilege but a responsibility. It is noteworthy that it has put forward the proposals to create a new Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and it is a leading participant in many security cooperation programs.

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