China continues its policy of expanding common interests with the world's major countries, and resolving differences in a proper way, based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
In 2004, Sino-US relations basically retained stability and development. In November 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao held talks with US President George W. Bush during the 12th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Chile where they paid tribute to the constructive and cooperative bilateral relationship and reached a common understanding of the development of Sino-US relations over the following four years. The Chinese and US presidents had frequent telephone contact and established a hotline between their respective foreign ministries. Between April and October 2004, there were visits from US Vice President Dick Cheney, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, President pro tempore Ted Stevens of the US Senate, and US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the latter reiterating US adherence to the one-China policy and opposition to any activities aimed at "Taiwan independence." There was also breakthrough in military cooperation; US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, who visited China in January 2004, was the highest-ranking US military official to visit China since 1997. The 3rd round of Sino-US consultations on strategic security, multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation at vice-foreign ministerial level was also held. Sino-US economic and trade cooperation continued to develop; the 15th session of the Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade was convened in Washington in April 2004 and achieved positive results.
Sino-Russian strategic cooperative partnership deepened during 2004. Meetings of heads of state and government leaders resulted in successful resolution of historical border issues and a long-term bilateral relations development plan. In June, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 4th Summit Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan. In November, the two presidents met again at the 12th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Chile. In May, Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, held friendly and candid talks with Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov of the Russian Federal Assembly. In September, Premier Wen Jiabao paid a formal visit to Russia and held the 9th Regular Meeting of Sino-Russian Prime Ministers with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. In October, the Russian President paid a state visit to China, conferring in depth with President Hu Jintao on a wide range of subjects concerning the deepening of Sino-Russian strategic cooperative partnership, and major international and regional issues.
Frequent top-level visits between China and the European Union in 2004 laid a foundation for all-round Sino-EU strategic partnership, and cooperation in economy and trade, science and technology, and international affairs saw rapid progress. In January 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao made a state visit to France. In February and April there were successive visits from the Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, the Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, the President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, the President Romano Prodi of the EU Commission, and the President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to EU countries, namely, Germany, Belgium, EU headquarters, Italy, Britain, and Ireland in May was the first EU visit by any foreign leader after its historic enlargement. In June, President Hu Jintao paid state visits to Poland, Hungary, and Romania. At the end of May and early June, Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, visited European countries, including Bulgaria, Denmark, and Norway. Between September and December, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Armenian President Robert Kocharian, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited China in succession. At the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in October, Premier Wen Jiabao met with Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka, and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, respectively. In December, at the 7th Sino-EU Summit in the Netherlands, where he had meetings with EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and other important government figures, the Premier signed the Joint Declaration of the 7th China-EU Summit Meeting and the Joint Declaration on Non-proliferation and Arms Control. In early 2005, the Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern each visited China.
Some positive signs for lifting the EU arms embargo on China emerged in 2004 and in September, the 6th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights was held in Suzhou.
Sino-French relations entered a new stage on January 27, 2004, the 40th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic ties, when Chinese President Hu Jintao and French President Jacques Chirac signed a joint statement, setting development guidelines for an all-round strategic partnership between China and France and the key fields where the two nations would intensify cooperation. In October, President Chirac paid a state visit and launched the Year of France in China.
In 2004, China and Japan made progress in economic and trade cooperation, and in cultural and people-to-people contacts. In February, the 9th Security Consultation between the Diplomatic and Defense Authorities of China and Japan was convened in Tokyo, where the two sides exchanged frank and in-depth views on international and regional security and on their respective national defense policies. In April, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi visited China. During the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Chile in November, President Hu Jintao met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and made proposals guiding the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, emphasizing the vital importance of facing up to historical problems, which are impossible to avoid and can not be avoided, as the only way to transform such burdens into an impetus for moving forward.