Editor's note: As the year 2004 is soon to elapse into history, it is time to look back at the achievements and new visions embodied in the country's diplomatic front over the past 12 months. The following is a roundup of the People's Daily interview with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and a Xinhua yearender on the same topic.
In the process of actively creating for itself an international and surrounding environment of peace and mutually beneficial cooperation, China has presented to the world an increasingly mature diplomatic image in 2004, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in an interview published on Wednesday's People's Daily.
This year, China, closely adhering to a friendly and good-neighborly foreign policy, has actively promoted East Asian regional cooperation, and pushed its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into a new stage, Li said.
China has made unremitting efforts in advancing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) into all-round cooperation, and played a positive and constructive role in easing the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
"While deepening and upgrading its mutually beneficial cooperation with a large number of Asian neighbors, China has resolved some sensitive issues with them in a cautious and satisfactory manner," Li said.
He asserted that this year, China has generally maintained and developed stable relations with the United States and deepened cooperative and partnership ties with other influential powers.
"All these tangible diplomatic achievements should be attributed to the country's established diplomatic visions and its leadership's strategic perception about international situations," the foreign minister said.
A signed Xinhua article also spoke highly of China's diplomatic achievements this year.
Frequent exchange of visits by Chinese and European leaders at the end of this year has put China's "pragmatic diplomacy" in the world's limelight, it said. This year, called the "Europe Year" for China's diplomacy in some reports, is memorable for the Sino-European relations.
"Both sides have found much in common in pushing for the world multipolarization, anti-terrorism, security and environmental protection," the Xinhua article said. The two have exchanged a series of high-level visits, including President Hu Jintao's visit to France, Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to four European Union member countries and later to the Netherlands to attend the Seventh China-European Union (EU) summit, as well as China visits by French President Jacques Chirac, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the latter part of the year.
China and Russia have made milestone progress in developing bilateral relations, the Xinhua article said. During Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China in October, the two sides signed an agreement, completing the delimitation of the 4,300-kilometre-long boundary line between them.
The high-level exchanges between China and the United States are also noticeable, said the article. From April to October, US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and President Pro Tem of the US Senate Ted Stevens paid separate visits to China.
During Powell's stay in China, he reiterated the one-China policy and opposed any move that might lead to Taiwan "independence." In January, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers became the highest-level US military officer to visit China since 1997.
The Xinhua article said that this year has witnessed frequent phone talks between the Chinese and US presidents, as well as the establishment of direct telephone lines between diplomatic departments of the two countries.
Chinese leaders make full use of multilateral occasions to expand relations with other leaders, said the article.
President Hu Jintao met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the SCO summit in Tashkent, and had a conversation with US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi respectively at the 12th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Santiago, capital of Chile.
The expansion of economic cooperation and trade has become another characteristic of China's diplomacy, the article commented. President Hu visited four Latin American countries in November, during which China signed a series of cooperative agreements with Cuba, Argentina, Brazil and Chile in the fields of economy and trade, tourism, transportation, resources, aviation and space.
During the Eighth China-ASEAN leaders' meeting in Laos, the two sides signed an agreement on trade in goods, and the Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism, which marked the kickoff of the China-ASEAN free trade area construction.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China also plays an active part in multilateral activities, said the Xinhua article. In February and June, the second and third rounds of six-party talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issues were held in Beijing, with first document issued since the start of the talks.
The six-party talks in China have become the most effective multilateral mechanism in solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issues, and have played an important role in safeguarding regional peace and stability, experts say.
Thanks to joint efforts by China and other members, the SCO Beijing Secretariat and the Tashkent regional anti-terrorism center were established respectively in January and June.
Fifty years ago, China, India and Myanmar first put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. This year China marked the anniversary ceremoniously. Experts here believe China will continue its independent foreign policy of peace as before, to contribute to the establishment of a new, just and reasonable world order of politics and economy, the Xinhua story said.
Looking into the next year, China will continue pushing for a friendly and good-neighborly relationship with neighbors characterized as "equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit," Foreign Minister Li was quoted as saying by People's Daily.
China will continue stabilizing and developing its relations with the developed countries and deepening and strengthening unity and cooperation with developing nations, Li said.
China will continue to improve its ability of dealing with the changing international situations and resolving international issues, and contribute more to maintaining world peace, pushing mutually beneficial cooperation and promoting common development, he said.
(China Daily December 16, 2004)