The highlights of China’s Diplomacy in President Xi’s New Year Address

As a common practice, all the heads of states across the world deliver the annual address on the occasion of New Year to extend greetings to their people and the peoples around the world. China is no exception. This year, Chinese President Xi Jin-ping regularly delivered a New Year message to both Chinese people and the ones of the world as well. To the people who want to be aware of China better and deeper, it is necessary to grasp the key concepts of Chinese policy in the coming year(s).

On December 31, 2017, Xi Jinpingreiterated his “people first”governance principle in an annual address. Reflecting the ancient Chinese wisdom, he emphasized that “The well-being of our people is the ruling Party (CCP) and the government’s urgentpriority.” To that end, China has set an ambitious target of lifting all people out of poverty by 2020. For sure, this is not an easy cause in such a short time of three years to left, yet important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. It is necessary tocarry on it dedicatedly and make it happen in union.

President Xi vowed in the speech that China will resolutely carry out reform in 2018, since reform and opening up are the path China must take to make progress in global era and realize the Chinese dream. He also noted the well-being of the Chinese people cannot be separated from that of the entire mankind. Due to this, Xi put forward three key concepts of China’s diplomacy in the next years.

First, as a huge country with ancient civilization, China will continue to follow the path of peaceful rise. It is not a lip-service, but a real practice of its rapid development over the past decades. As he believes that China receives so much benefit from its uninterrupted foreign involvements including UN-endorsed peace-keeping and anti-piracy missions, it will continue to be involved itself into world affairs prudently and responsibly. Therefore, China necessarily acts as a builder of world peace.

Second, as a largest developing country in the world, China will continue to commit itself to domestic development and globalization process. As China needs much longer time to realize its national rejuvenation, global development and fairer governance will be necessary and comprehensive. Consider its rapid development, the leadership in Beijing has demonstrated the will and capacity to tackle the urgent issues globally such as conventional and non-conventional. In this sense, China will act as a contributor to global development. For instance, Xi emphatically said that China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China’s international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to its pledges to tackle climate change and actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative.

Yet, as always, realist scholars and practitioners have opined that history teaches us the ruling powers and the rising power are easily destined to confront each other.Frankly, how can China avoid challenging the established rules and norms dictated by the United States and its allies?From the geopolitical point of view, the United States is and remains a superpower globally in the coming decades, therefore, it is unrealistic to image that the United States would retreat itself to the new “isolationism” in terms of the “America’s First”. As a ruling power, the United States would not give up its established interest and the commitments to its core allies around the world. Due to this, President Xi frankly discussed with his U.S. counterpart America’s new Indo-Pacific strategy in Beijing last November. Trump did try his best efforts to persuade Xi to accept that although the Indo-Pacific strategy was oriented toward the maritime domain, a sensitive issue for China, it was not at all a containment strategy against China. Xi replied that the global vision was to chart out a more prosperous and peaceful future for humanity with the joint efforts of the Chinese people and people from other countries.Therefore, China determines to act as akeeper of international status quo.

In summary, looking back at 2017, China has comprehensively involved into the world affairs, and achieved important early results in docking cooperation between the “Belt and Road” construction and the Eurasian Economic Union. Now looking into 2018, China will ensure to play a more vigorous role in making significant contributions to safeguarding world peace and stability in terms of its core interests and the general welfare of the world as well..

Paul Wang
Paul Wang
Wang Li is Professor of International Relations and Diplomacy at the School of International and Public Affairs, Jilin University China.