Key takeaways from Xi's diplomacy in 2023

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Chinese President Xi Jinping poses for a group photo with distinguished guests attending the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 18, 2023. Xi on Oct. 18 attended the opening ceremony of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and delivered a keynote speech. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

As the year 2023 draws to a close, here are the key takeaways from Chinese President Xi Jinping's diplomacy throughout the year.

It has been a busy year for Xi with four trips abroad, dozens of meetings with foreign dignitaries, chairing the first China-Central Asia Summit and attending the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and more.


Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands after jointly signing a Joint Statement of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era and a Joint Statement of the President of the People's Republic of China and the President of the Russian Federation on Pre-2030 Development Plan on Priorities in China-Russia Economic Cooperation in Moscow, Russia, March 21, 2023. Xi on March 21 held talks with Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

On March 20, Xi embarked on a state visit to Russia. This was his first trip abroad after his reelection as Chinese president. He described this trip as a journey of friendship, cooperation and peace.

Noting that China and Russia are each other's biggest neighbor, Xi said that consolidating and developing long-term good-neighborly relations with Russia is consistent with historical logic and a strategic choice of China, which will not be changed by any turn of events.

In the first 11 months of this year, the bilateral trade between China and Russia achieved the annual trade volume target of 200 billion U.S. dollars jointly set by the two heads of state, which shows the strong resilience and broad prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

On July 20, Xi met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who made his final visit to China four months before passing away at the age of 100. The meeting took place at Villa 5 of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, the venue where Kissinger had met with Premier Zhou Enlai during his first visit to China. Kissinger will always be remembered and missed by the Chinese people, Xi said in a message of condolences to U.S. President Joe Biden on the death of the statesman.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden take a walk after their talks in the Filoli Estate in the U.S. state of California, Nov. 15, 2023.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden on Nov. 15 had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-U.S. relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development.

The meeting was held at Filoli Estate, a country house approximately 40 km south of San Francisco, California. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

The captivating China-U.S. summit took place on Nov. 15 at Filoli Estate, a country house south of San Francisco. During the four-hour-long meeting, the Chinese president noted that being at the helm of China-U.S. relations, he and President Biden shoulder heavy responsibilities for the two peoples, for the world and for history.

The two presidents agreed to promote and strengthen bilateral dialogue and cooperation in such areas as China-U.S. government talks on AI and the establishment of a working group on counternarcotics cooperation. They agreed to resume high-level communication between the two militaries, work toward a significant further increase in scheduled passenger flights early next year, and expand various bilateral exchanges in education, overseas students, youth, culture, sports and between the business communities.

There were light moments too. Ahead of a banquet, Biden showed Xi a photo from his phone, a picture of Xi taken with the Golden Gate Bridge, when he made his maiden trip to the United States in 1985 as a county leader of Zhengding in China's northern province of Hebei. Biden praised Xi's Hongqi limousine "beautiful" when parting with the Chinese leader, and Xi gestured the staff to open the door of the made-in-China car for Biden to take a better look.

Xi also had frequent exchanges with European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Amid the increasingly turbulent international situation, the China-EU relationship has strategic significance and implications for global peace, stability and prosperity, said Xi when meeting with the EU leaders in Beijing in December.


Most of the foreign dignitaries Xi met were from developing countries, reflecting China's diplomatic principle that all countries, big or small, are equal.

During his state visit to South Africa from Aug. 21 to 24, Xi co-chaired with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa the China-Africa Leaders' Dialogue. Xi announced China's three initiatives on supporting Africa's industrialization, agricultural modernization and talent development.

Banners of the 15th BRICS summit are seen in a street of Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng)

Xi also attended the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, where six countries were invited to become new BRICS members.

Xi said that the BRICS expansion is historic and a new starting point for BRICS cooperation. He stressed that the expansion reflects the resolution of the BRICS countries to unite and cooperate with other developing countries, meets the expectations of the international community, and serves the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries.

On Sept. 21, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games. When meeting with his Syrian counterpart, Xi said China supports Syria in opposing foreign interference, rejecting unilateralism and bullying, and safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding that China supports Syria in conducting reconstruction.

In addition, Xi hosted in June Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento, the first Honduran president to pay a state visit to China since China and Honduras established diplomatic relations in March. Xi told Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros in September that China supports Venezuela in setting up special economic zones and will share relevant experience to help its national development. Xi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in April witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents on trade and investment, digital economy, scientific and technological innovation and other areas.


Artists perform during a welcome ceremony for Central Asian leaders and their wives attending the China-Central Asia Summit in the Tang Paradise in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, May 18, 2023. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

On May 19, Xi chaired the first China-Central Asia Summit in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, a new milestone in China-Central Asia relations. Xi said central Asian countries are welcome to board the "express train" of China's development. He made an eight-point proposal for strengthening cooperation, ranging from expanding economic ties to promoting cultural exchanges and safeguarding regional peace.

On Oct. 17, the Chinese and Indonesian heads of state jointly inaugurated the official operation of the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway. It is the first high-speed railway in Southeast Asia, cutting the journey between the two cities from over three hours to around 40 minutes.

Noting that the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway is a "golden brand" for the Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries, Xi said China is willing to work with Indonesia to sum up successful experience, make sound efforts in its high-quality operation and foster an economic belt along the railway.

Passengers take selfies in a carriage of a high-speed electrical multiple unit (EMU) train running on the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway in Indonesia, Oct. 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Xu Qin)

Xi paid a state visit to Vietnam from Dec. 12 to 13, and was received with the highest diplomatic protocol of Vietnam. Both sides agreed to build a China-Vietnam community with a shared future that carries strategic significance, a major historic decision made by the leaders of the two parties and countries, as well as the most important political achievement reached by the two sides.

Before concluding his visit, Xi noted that what impressed him most was General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong's repeated emphasis that the China-Vietnam bond of "camaraderie plus brotherhood" is the starting point and foundation of the China-Vietnam relationship.

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese President Xi Jinping and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong and their spouses pose for group photos with the representatives of young Chinese and Vietnamese and people who have contributed to the China-Vietnam friendship in Hanoi, Vietnam, Dec. 13, 2023. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan met here with the representatives along with Nguyen Phu Trong and his wife. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in neighborhood diplomacy proposed by Xi. He wrote in a signed article in the Nhan Dan Newspaper of Vietnam that "Asia is our common home. Neighboring countries cannot be moved away. Helping one's neighbor is helping oneself, and good neighbors wish each other well."


Another landmark in China's diplomacy is mediating talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies and missions within two months after their talks concluded in Beijing on March 10. A joint trilateral statement said the decision for China to host the talks was based on the agreement between Xi and the leaderships of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

During his state visit to Russia in March, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue. Xi stressed that a review of history shows that conflicts in the end have to be settled through dialogue and negotiation. For his part, Putin said Russia has carefully studied China's position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue and is open to talks for peace.

On April 26, Xi spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky over the phone. Xi said China will send a special representative of the Chinese government on Eurasian affairs to visit Ukraine and other countries to conduct in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the crisis. Zelensky welcomed China's important role in restoring peace and seeking diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Xi attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue on Nov. 21. The Chinese president emphasized that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.

This photo taken on Oct. 17, 2023 shows a floral decoration for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) near China National Convention Center in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Chen Bin)

As the Belt and Road Initiative turns 10 years old this year, Xi announced at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) eight major steps China will take to support high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. The high-profile forum, held in Beijing from Oct. 17 to 18, is the most important diplomatic event hosted by China this year.

Over the past decade, Xi has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative in succession, contributing wisdom and strength to building a community with a shared future for humanity.  

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