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China's Foreign Policy Matures
China's foreign policy is showing more maturity and self-confidence after a series of recent diplomatic signs.

China looks calm and confident when facing regional crises, working through its close cooperation with the main powers.

For example, in the recently passed United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1441 to play down the Iraq crisis, China voted in favor. Zhang Yishan, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, assumed the rotating presidency of the council and authorized the resolution.

Meanwhile, for the first time, China established and dispatched its special envoy to the Middle East, making its own endeavor to prompt the peace process in the conflict-torn region.

The country now attaches much importance to multilateral diplomacy.

Earlier this month, China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the end of the sixth China-ASEAN Summit. It marked a great enhancement of mutual trust between China and ASEAN countries and signaled China's willingness to ease its security concerns via multilateral diplomatic efforts.

In the past, China insisted the South China Sea dispute should be settled through bilateral negotiations between it and the individual Southeast Asian countries.

China has actively engaged itself in a variety of international regimes and agreements, playing a greater role as a responsible member of the international community.

At the Earth Summit in South Africa in September, Premier Zhu Rongji declared China's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, in obvious contrast with the US unilateral withdrawal from this important international regime.

China prompts geo-political security through no other means than constructive geo-economic cooperations. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization mechanism, which was set up in the mid-1990s, has developed into an effective body to co-ordinate economic and political interests within the region, such as the confidence building in border areas and close economic cooperation, to consolidate China's security in its northwest.

This month, the signing of the landmark Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation marked a concrete step to inaugurate the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone. In the long run, a group of countries will hopefully emerge that are willing to share peace and prosperity with China in its neighborhood.

To seek security in its surroundings, China establishes regional economical communities to promote common interests in non-economic fields. Several years ago it proposed and vigorously implemented the "new security concept," which opposes any forms of military alliance and grouping.

The strengthened self-confidence of China's diplomacy in part stems from its continuously growing national strength during the past two decades. Depending on its basic policy of reform and opening-up, China has increasingly integrated itself into the international community.

The just concluded 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposed the grand objective of building up a Xiaokang (moderate well-off) society in an all-round way by 2020 - it means the next two decades will be critical for the country.

China will make more fundamental reforms and therefore demand a peaceful, friendly and harmonious world and surrounding environment.

Naturally, it will be confident to continue to be a responsible member of the international community to help maintain international order.

(China Daily November 29, 2002)

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