Opportunities in China's peripheral diplomacy

By Xiao An
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 9, 2014
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China should maintain good communication with other countries, including the United States, Russia, South Korea, North Korea and ASEAN countries, on issues concerning Japan.

Despite being Japan's ally, the United States was nonetheless alerted on Japan's intention to seek breakthroughs in postwar restrictions. The United States certainly would not stand with China if forced to take sides, but it has constantly tried to avoid taking a position in the China-Japan contention. It is aware that by indulging Japan, it will eventually dampen the Sino-U.S. relationship, affecting its interests in China.

At the same time, on the non-governmental level, China should maintain a good relationship with Japan, and maintain dialogue with friendship groups and grass-roots personnel. This is also a strategy to combat Japan's rightist wing.


Myanmar will be an important country in China's peripheral diplomacy in 2014. As the ASEAN's rotating president country, Myanmar will host a series of regional meetings including the ASEAN Summit. Its military government will seek a better international environment while at the same time contending with what it calls foreign interference.

This year marks a critical period for Myanmar's domestic democracy and reconciliation processes, ahead of the 2015 election. The Burmese government army will intensify peace talks with the Kachin Independence Army in the north, while continuing to attempt to expand its territory – possibly triggering new warfare.

Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi has sought legitimacy for running for presidency, a request recognized yet unconfirmed by the government. But her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has nonetheless announced that it will take part in the 2015 election, regardless of whether the constitution can be amended. This means that the NLD may choose another presidential candidate.

Political struggles in Myanmar will intensify in the year despite peaceful appearances. Suu Kyi's supporters – the local Burmese armed forces and the West – will both seize the opportunity.

As the largest country that borders on Myanmar, China wishes to see a peaceful transition, reconciliation and prosperity in the country, as this would match China's strategic interest.

Under these circumstances, China should preserve the peace and stability in border areas, traditionally good bilateral ties, and above all, China's major interest in Myanmar.

The Chinese government should encourage the Burmese government army to engage in dialogue with local opposition forces to gain a truce. To make this happen, China should not only provide the venue for both parties, but also act as a mediator. China should actively support Myanmar's role in the ASEAN rotating presidency, and make most of the opportunity to deepen China-ASEAN cooperation.

At the same time, China should also maintain close contact with the major Burmese opposition parties. The China Association for International Friendly Contact has reportedly invited Suu Kyi to visit China, a goodwill gesture which she responded positively to. The trip is likely to take place this year.

Once China and all the stakeholders in Myanmar can conduct fruitful dialogues, China's major investments in Myanmar will continue.

China and Myanmar share special geopolitical, economic and cultural bonds. As long as China conducts effective diplomacy, Myanmar will be a good neighbor, regardless of political changes.

The author is a world affairs commentator.

This article was translated by Chen Boyuan. Its original unabridged version was published in Chinese.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.


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