China's Independent Foreign Policy of Peace | Relations With Major Powers  |  Relations With Neighboring Countries  |Relations With Developing Countries| China's Military Diplomacy in 2003

Relations With Neighboring Countries


China is the country with the most neighbors in the world. There are 29 countries surrounding it, of which 15 border on it. China sticks to the principle of treating neighbors with good will and considering them as partners and actively boosts the win-win cooperation with its neighbors. After years of development, a radial pattern of regional cooperation has been basically formed surrounding China. In the north, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has entered a stage of substantial cooperation and is becoming a platform for China to strengthen cooperation with Russia and Central Asian countries in security and economic fields and to advance regional peace and stability. In the south, taking advantage of the "10+1" (10 ASEAN members plus China) and the "10+3" (10 ASEAN members plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) mechanisms, China is devoting itself to promoting cooperation in East Asia. The security dialogue between China and ASEAN and their cooperation in non-traditional security areas are expanding, and their interdependence has risen to an unprecedented degree.

China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership In October 2003, China formally joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia as its first non-Southeast Asian member at a series of ASEAN meetings in Indonesia. The tenet of the treaty is to boost lasting peace, friendship and cooperation among people in the region, so as to enhance their strength, unity and close relationship. China's accession to the treaty is an important measure of China and ASEAN to increase mutual political trust.

Breakthrough in Sino-Indian Relations In June 2003, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited China, the first for an Indian prime minister in 10 years. During his visit, the two countries signed the Declaration on Principles for Sino-Indian Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation, a guiding document that not only set the targets and guidelines of bilateral relations but also became a landmark of Sino-Indian ties. In the declaration, India recognized formally and clearly for the first time that Tibet is part of China's territory. On November 16-23, 2003, a senior military delegation led by Mohinder Singh, Commander of the Indian army's Fourth Corps, visited China and was permitted to enter Tibet. In his talks with Chinese leaders, Prime Minister Vajpayee said that the two countries should make concerted efforts to build a friendship equal to their potential and opportunities.

New East Asian Regional Cooperation The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum is playing an important role in pushing forward regional counter-terrorist cooperation, enhancing investor confidence and promoting regional economic growth. At the same time, it is also actively facilitating cooperation among regional countries for mutual benefit, deepening regional and sub-regional cooperation and promoting regional economic integration in order to realize common development of regional countries. The mutually beneficial cooperation is prompting the economic integration of China with neighboring countries. China has stepped up the implementation of the Treaty of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. At the China-ASEAN Summit in early November 2003, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that China hoped to elevate bilateral trading volume from the current $70 billion to $100 billion by 2005.

Cooperation Between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea In early October 2003, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) issued the Joint Declaration on the Promotion of Tripartite Cooperation. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao put forward four proposals on the cooperation among the three Northeast Asian countries in the future, saying the strategy of China to rejuvenate its northeastern region provides new opportunities for tri-party cooperation and the Chinese Government welcomes the governments of Japan and the ROK and personages of all circles in the two countries to actively take part in it. The increasing Northeast Asian regional cooperation is expected to exert a positive and deep influence on the common development and prosperity of the region.

In respect of the Korean nuclear issue, China has played a positive role as a responsible big regional power. When the crisis escalated, China again actively mediated among concerned countries and tried every effort to push the peaceful resolution of the issue in order to maintain the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and a stable external environment for China's development. Based on this, the tri-party and the first round of the six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue were held in Beijing respectively in April and August 2003, followed by the second round of the six-party talks in Beijing in February 2004. The talks started the process to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations. But as the Korean nuclear issue is very complicated, it is difficult to resolve it overnight. China will continue to make efforts together with other countries, in order to find a peaceful resolution.