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Fountain of China's Diplomatic Policy

The late Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, was not only a great statesman, but also an extraordinary strategist and diplomat. His farsighted foreign policies and forward-looking strategic conceptions, based on a scientific judgment of the international situation, are legendary, while his thought on diplomacy has become the practical guidance for China's current diplomatic policy.

Entering the 21st Century, successive Chinese leaders have further enriched and developed Deng Xiaoping's thoughts on diplomacy and the independent foreign policy of peace, based on the thought.

Major Themes

Deng held that there are two issues of overriding importance in the current world-peace and development, which have both not yet been resolved. The two issues are closely related. Peace will not be realized without development, while development, in return, requires a peaceful environment. Peace is an important condition for the subsistence and development of mankind. Without a peaceful environment, no country can concentrate on economic construction; without coordinated, balanced and solid economic and social development, the world cannot realize lasting peace and stability. Deng stressed on many occasions that, although there are many problems in the world that, need to be tackled, none is as important as peace and development, as they will ultimately affect the general situation of the world. He attached high importance to the South-North gap and proclaimed that narrowing and eventually eliminating the economic distance between undeveloped and developed countries is of decisive significance to remove all problems of the current world.

In the 20th century, people suffered two world wars and confrontation in the Cold War. Globally, people are no longer willing to see turmoil and wars and the growing economic gap between North and South. So, maintaining peace and advancing development is the common will and the shared goal of all people in the world. Peace and development are therefore the themes of the current time.

At present, peace and development are faced with challenges coming from hegemonism, non-traditional security threats, uneven development in North and South, environmental deterioration and other problems. To effectively cope with these challenges, all countries should respect each other. Economically, they should cooperate with each other and seek common development. In the field of culture, concerted efforts should be made to expand exchanges and strengthen mutual understanding. In security, they should establish mutual trust and face threats together. In dealing with bilateral relations, it is imperative to observe the principle of equality and abandon unilateralism. In summary, all countries should be dedicated to establishing a stable, just and reasonable international political and economic order for peace, encompassing new concepts of security and civilization.

Establishment of New Order

In the early 1990s, Deng put forward to establish a new, just and reasonable world political and economic order for peace, on the basis of Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. The proposal coincides with his judgment that peace and development are the two main themes of the current world. He noted that to establish such a new world order, all countries should jointly break the old order, oppose hegemonism and any interferences in internal affairs of others, strengthen and expand international economic cooperation based on equality and abandon all discriminatory policies and practices.

The core of a new political order is mutual respect for sovereignty and non-interference in others' internal affairs. The essence of a new economic order is to seek equality and mutual benefits and compliment each other. To achieve these objectives, all countries should abide by the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of others, cooperate with each other to create a secured, stable and peaceful international environment, establish a new model of international relations for common development and foster a climate in which each member of the international community, big or small, can independently choose their development paths and carry out cooperation in harmony through expanding common grounds and setting aside differences.

After the Cold War, some countries began to preach theories that advocate the idea of "sovereignty is outdated" and "human rights are superior to sovereignty." But quite the opposite applies. The concept of a new world order calls for a multi-polarized world, which stresses that affairs of one country should be resolved by people of the country independently, and world affairs to be resolved by all people in the world. However, the multilateral structure referred to here is different in nature from former ones where big countries carved up spheres of influence across the world.

Economic globalization is the trend and brings about new opportunities to the world economy. But, we should see that economic globalization is ongoing, yet the old economic structure has not been fundamentally changed. It is led by developed countries that decide the game rules. So, the opportunities that globalization has brought to every country are not even, as underdeveloped countries benefit little from the process and furthermore some of their economic interests may be infringed. So, it should be stressed that in the process of globalization, the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefits should be observed. International economic cooperation and exchanges should be aimed to attain a win-win result with mutual promotion and common development.

All in all, neither a multi-polarized world structure nor economic globalization can change the fact that major players in the current international relations are national countries. All countries are equal, independent members in the international community, and nothing should serve as an excuse for limiting the sovereignty of others. It is groundless to claim "sovereignty is outdated" with reference to such practice as "transfer of sovereignty." If it refers to certain arrangements based on voluntariness, mutual benefits and a win-win result. "Transfer of sovereignty" does not mean weakening sovereignty, but is a way countries can exercise their sovereignty. But if an arrangement breaks these principles, it cannot be seen as "transfer of sovereignty" but rather deprivation of sovereignty.

Security Without Military Alliance

Deng Xiaoping's thought on diplomacy especially stresses the importance of sovereign equality. For this purpose, a security guarantee is indispensable. According to traditional thinking, establishing a military alliance or building armament is the most reliable measure of a security guarantee. Such an idea undoubtedly will intensify arms races and deepen mutual suspicion and distrust among countries, which could cause instability of the international situation and affect economic and social development of involved countries.

Based on the current international situation, China has come up with a new security concept, which stresses mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and cooperation among countries. These should be major measures to insure international security. Based on mutual trust, countries of different sizes, social systems, ideologies, culture and development level can cooperate in a spirit of mutual respect and equality. The respect for sovereignty of countries should constitute the political basis to maintain peace. Cooperation with mutual benefits is the economic guarantee. Dialogue and consultation based on equality is the correct and effective way to resolve disputes and maintain peace. Security should be a thing shared by all countries. Any country, big or small, rich or poor, has the right to enjoy security. No country should establish its security based on infringing upon the security of others.

The new security concept targets realizing lasting peace in the world. It serves peace and development in the 21st century and is opposite to the Cold War mentality.

Coexistence of Diverse Civilizations

Deng Xiaoping has indicated on several occasions that all countries and nations have their own strongpoints and all have made contribution to the civilization of human beings. He emphasized that international relations should not be decided by social systems or ideology.

The diversity of civilization is a basic characteristic of human society. There are naturally differences among countries or nations in social systems, values, development routes, traditions, religious beliefs and culture. To create a colorful world with different civilizations, all countries must respect each other, exist harmoniously, seek common points while reserving differences and seek common progress. Different histories, cultures, and economic and social systems should be a driving force of mutual supplementation and progress, rather than a source of mutual isolation, hostility and conflicts. Different civilizations can coexist for and pursue common development by learning from each other. The thinking of not accepting and respecting the diversity of the world and attempting to force its own social system, development methods or values on others are actions of hegemonism and go opposite to the laws of history. Of the nearly 200 countries in the world that combine to have a population of more than 6 billion, they all have their historical traditions and development patterns. A uniform framework is impossible to pull them together, erasing their own characteristics.

Undeniably, there may be disputes or even conflicts among different civilizations due to their different values. Such circumstances are not rare, happening in the past and the present, but these could have been prevented. Today, mankind has entered a time where different civilizations should learn how to coexist in peace, not only to prevent misunderstandings, tension and conflict, but also to seek common prosperity in harmony. Otherwise, it could only bring about tragedy.

Independent Foreign Policy

It is the target of China's foreign policy to maintain world peace and carry out cooperation with all countries under the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, to serve its efforts to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way at home. Based on Deng Xiaoping's diplomatic thought, China has put forward and implemented a series of new foreign policies, establishing an image of a peace-loving, principled and responsible big country. It has played an important role in dealing with the Asian financial crisis, nuclear army race in South Asia, Kosovo crisis, post-9/11 anti-terror campaign, Afghan war, Iraq war and the Korean nuclear crisis, which has shown to the world a new diplomatic style featuring sincerity, responsibility, frankness as well as pragmatism, flexibility and openness.

China's diplomatic efforts in recent years have achieved remarkable results in consolidating and advancing its relations with neighbors, big powers and developing countries. In the world today, all countries are connected more closely in political, economic and security areas, which has highlighted the role of multilateral diplomacy. It is a prominent feature of China's diplomacy to actively play its due role in various multilateral activities. China's stands to enhance the role of the United Nations, and its active part in international organizations and other multilateral activities have been highly appreciated and widely recognized in the international community.

(Beijing Review August 12, 2004)

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