China reinforced parliamentary exchanges with foreign countries
in 2007 to create a favorable global environment for domestic
development and bolster the construction of a harmonious world.
Parliamentary exchanges conducted by the National People's
Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, is an important supplement
to inter-governmental diplomacy to enhance mutual political trust
and step up pragmatic cooperation, said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the
NPC Standing Committee.
Last year, the NPC sent out more than 110 delegations, mostly
for legislative exchanges. Meanwhile, the NPC received 91
delegations with nearly 1,000 members from 56 countries, among whom
were speakers from 22 countries including the United States,
Russia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and South Africa.
Former European Parliament (EP) President Josep Borrell
Fontelles traveled to China in July 2006, marking the first visit
by a top EP official to China in 13 years. Fontelles said that he
witnessed huge changes happening in China through this visit and
thus had a new understanding of China.
"Getting to know the real China is the best way to dispel any
misunderstandings and to solve any problems," he said.
Thereafter, the former president rebutted the theory of "China
threat" in an article, noting that there was no reason for the
Europeans to feel threatened by an awakening China.
China's parliamentary exchanges used to be temporary and
symbolic until the reform and opening-up, said Liu Ming with the
Center of Contemporary International Studies of the Communication
In the past few years, China's economic growth put forward
higher requirements for the country's diplomacy, lending NPC a more
active role in global arena.
Indeed, compared with inter-governmental diplomacy,
parliamentary exchanges seem to be more casual with subtle
influences. On behalf of public opinions, legislators tend to be
less limited by their political status and more candid and
pragmatic in communication.
After the June 4 event in 1989, many Western countries imposed
sanctions on China and high-level exchanges were once frozen. NPC
then took the initiative in 1990 to invite the commission des
affaires etrangeres of the French Senate and the Chamber of
Deputies of the Italian Christine Democratic Party. Delegations
were helpful to lifting the sanctions.
With regular exchanges with China, Congress of the United States
played a key role in reducing bias in the country. Newt Gingrich,
former Speaker of the House, was impressed by China's religious
freedom and democracy after his visit in 1997. While the US
Congress was wrestling with the White House over diplomatic
policies to China, parliamentary exchange was a good channel
bolstering relations of the two countries.
Against a backdrop of globalization, parliamentary exchanges
also help boost economic and trade cooperation.
During Wu Bangguo's fruitful visit to South Africa from last
Aug. 28 to Sept. 9, China and Brazil signed a series of cooperative
agreements on trading in jet planes, jointly building
hydro-electricity plants and other important projects.
China and Chile inked a referendum of understanding on
cooperation in the production and trade of copper. Wu and Chilean
President Michelle Bachelet also announced that free trade
agreement between the two countries would be brought into effect
from Oct. 1, and that free trade investment and service trade talks
would also be officially launched then.
Talking about future development, Wu Bangguo underscored the
establishment of regular bilateral dialogue mechanism with foreign
parliaments. "It is an important step to ensure the consistency and
stability of diplomacy and beef up its efficiency," he said.
In 2007, the NPC will start the regular bilateral dialogue
mechanism with the parliaments of seven more countries including
Australia, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, South Africa and the
Republic of Korea, bringing the total number of countries under
such a mechanism with China to 15.
(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2007)