Key Cooperative Research Institute for Policy Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the P.R.C (2022-2024)

Wu Xinbo, "Country keeps busy with full diplomatic agenda"


(Source: China Daily, 2022-12-29)

  Numerous overseas leaders welcomed to Beijing

China faced a packed diplomatic agenda in 2022 that ranged from  hosting VIPs arriving in Beijing for the Winter Olympics in February to a  number of visits by leaders in the second half of the year.

The wide-ranging, informative agenda and busy schedule for visits to  the nation by foreign leaders was best illustrated by that made by  European Council President Charles Michel this month.

I have come to Beijing to engage in a candid, in-depth and  face-to-face dialogue with China's leadership. Today's meeting with  President Xi Jinping took some three hours.… It's our first in-person  meeting since I took office, due to COVID, Michel said after his  meeting with Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec 1.

Vice-Foreign Minister Deng Li said the duration of the leaders' discussions far exceeded the estimated time.

Xi's meetings with visiting leaders covered some of the top global  agenda items this year, including the Ukraine crisis, collaboration on  economic recovery, and the response to COVID-19.

Fruitful results achieved from visits to Beijing included 13  cooperative documents signed with Vietnam, agreement with Pakistan to  upgrade a railway and a motorway project, and the decision by China and  Tanzania to raise their relations to a comprehensive strategic  partnership.

Leading scholars said that behind these frequent visits to China is  the common expectation among nations to strive for prosperity and  progress amid unprecedented complexity in the international situation  and aggravated deficits in global peace, development, security and  governance.

Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan  University in Shanghai, said, By hosting leaders from abroad, China  sends clear signals — it is resuming major offline diplomatic events  after the pandemic emerged three years ago, and China's fundamental  policy of opening up has not changed.

China has made clear that it earnestly seeks collaboration on  development with other nations — be they those from the East or the  West, and whether they are developing countries or developed nations —  and it is ready to play a bigger role in world affairs, Wu said.

All these agreements made through home-ground diplomacy show that  the world closely tracks China's development, these countries pay great  attention to their ties with China, and they are looking to give a fresh  boost to two-way relations through visits to Beijing, he added.

Many observers said China's home-ground diplomacy accelerated  alongside the convening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist  Party of China in Beijing in October.

The long list of visiting foreign leaders included those from China's  neighbors, such as Vietnam, Laos and Mongolia, as well as from distant  countries such as Germany, Tanzania and Cuba.

Xu Yicong, a researcher at the China Foundation for International  Studies and a former Chinese ambassador to Cuba, said, Behind the rush  of China visits is the recognition by other nations of China's role as a  responsible major country.

He said the world order is evolving in an extremely confusing and  disturbing way, as the pandemic continues, armed conflict lingers  between Russia and Ukraine, and there are no hopeful signs for a  turnaround in the global economic downturn.

With many leaders flying to Beijing to discuss solutions to global  issues with Xi, China's credibility is on the rise, and behind all this  is the nation's lasting efforts in fulfilling its commitments, policies  and ideas with action, Xu said.

Still, China needs to keep a cool head, continue making its own  contribution, avoid arrogance, remain humble, and better serve the world  with self-confidence, wisdom, vision and substantial actions.

  Great hospitality

The Beijing Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Winter Games in  February were the major events this year at which China hosted foreign  guests.

When leaders arrived at the Great Hall of the People on Feb 5 for a  welcoming banquet held by President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, many of  them were amazed by amusement stalls set up outside the venue.

At the stalls, guests were presented with traditional performing arts  souvenirs and delicate handicrafts with traditional Chinese features.

With help from staff members at the stalls, Prince Albert II of  Monaco made a colored dough toy shaped like the Beijing Winter Olympics  mascot Bing Dwen Dwen.

Can I keep this? he asked. Can I ask you a big favor? Can I do a second one? Because I have twins.

During his talk with Xi the following day, the president mentioned the prince's love for the mascot and his twins.

You can select a pair of your beloved Bing Dwen Dwen and take them back to your children with our best wishes, Xi said.

Vice-Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said that by hosting the two Olympic  events, China welcomed official dignitaries from nearly 70 countries and  international organizations, including 31 heads of state and  government, key royal family members and leading officials from  international organizations.

The welcoming banquet was held during Spring Festival, which could  also be termed a reunion of the great Olympic family and a great reunion  of the international community, Ma said.

Su Xiaohui, associate research fellow at the China Institute of  International Studies, or CIIS, said the Winter Olympics marked the  first triumph for China's diplomacy this year, as Beijing successfully  offset attempts by some Western politicians to politicize and demonize  the global event.

While some politicians tried to force countries to take sides over  whether to attend this event or not, many friends and leaders came to  offer support. Some leaders came to China even though their countries  did not send a delegation of athletes to the Games, she said.

China's hospitality was also reflected in Beijing's growing friendship with its neighbors throughout the year.

In July, Indonesian President Joko Widodo became the first foreign leader to visit China after the Winter Olympics.

During his trip to Beijing, China voiced staunch support for  Indonesia hosting the G20 Summit in Bali, and the two nations signed  cooperative documents covering areas such as vaccines, green  development, cybersecurity and marine cooperation.

About a week after the 20th National Congress of the CPC ended,  Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam  Central Committee, became the first of several foreign leaders to visit  China.

At the Great Hall of the People on Oct 31, Xi held a grand ceremony  for Trong, at which he awarded him the Friendship Medal of the People's  Republic of China.

Trong said the award fully reflected the feeling of friendship from  the CPC, the Chinese government and Chinese people, and is also a great  inspiration for Vietnam's long-term commitment to the Vietnam-China  friendship.

Su, the CIIS scholar, said, One of China's diplomatic successes over  the past year is that many neighboring countries hold an objective,  reasonable view toward China's growth, and they do not perceive its rise  as a threat or something overblown or exaggerated by certain  countries.

In particular, China's collaboration with its neighbors over  infrastructure and connectivity are introducing tangible, substantial  opportunities for their own growth, and the progress made on  infrastructure projects will facilitate positive momentum for common  development between China and these neighbors, she added.

  Common ground

Ties between China and European countries have played a key role in Beijing's interactions with developing nations.

Media reports and observers have paid great attention to the  diplomatic progress achieved in Beijing this year for China-Europe  relations, given the compulsion of some European politicians to seek  decoupling with China economically and politically.

Leaders from Germany and the European Union visited Beijing in  November and December respectively, while Xi also held discussions with  the leaders of four European countries in Bali, analysts said.

Meeting with Xi on Nov 4 in Beijing, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz  said his country wants to maintain communication and coordination with  China to better safeguard regional and global peace and security, and  China is an important trading partner for Germany and for Europe as a  whole.

Feng Zhongping, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences'  Institute of European Studies, said, China's relations with Europe are  showing promising signs, and the two sides are demonstrating a trend of  working together toward reasonability, pragmatism and stability (for  their ties).

He said such progress is due to Europe being increasingly anxious  about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and expecting China to play a greater  role in promoting peace.

Another factor is that Europe is now deeply worried about the global  production chain and supply chain. It seeks to reinforce collaboration  with China in economy and trade, and wants to further stabilize its  production and supply chains, Feng said.

As the United States has profited greatly from the conflict and the  ongoing energy crisis, Europe has realized it cannot blindly follow the  US' lead in containing China, or lose control of issues related to  China, he added.

Exchanges between political parties were another highlight of China's  diplomacy at home this year, as Xi, also general secretary of the CPC  Central Committee, met with and entertained heads of the ruling party in  several countries.

Earlier this month, Xi met with Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of the United Russia party, at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

Medvedev said cooperation between the United Russia party and the CPC  is a vital part of Russia-China relations, and in recent years the two  parties maintained high-level development of their relations and carried  out extensive exchanges and cooperation.

After the 20th National Congress of the CPC, Xi also met with the leaders of socialist countries such as Vietnam, Laos and Cuba.

Pan Jin'e, a veteran Vietnamese studies researcher at the Chinese  Academy of Social Sciences, said, There are shared strategic interests  among the socialist countries, and their reinforced collaboration is  helpful for increasing solidarity and mutual trust.

  Looking ahead

Observers said different countries are now looking forward to  embarking on further head-of-state diplomacy with China, and using  candid, direct communication and interactions to learn Beijing's views  on the thorny issues facing the world.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday, Next  year, head-of-state diplomacy will reach a new climax, and many  highlights are expected in home-ground diplomacy.

Wang said one of these highlights is the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, which next year marks its 10th anniversary.

During state visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and  November 2013, Xi announced China's proposal to jointly build the Silk  Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road — twin  flagship components of the BRI.

Addressing the 29th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok,  Thailand, last month, Xi said, China will consider holding the third  Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation next year to provide  fresh impetus for the development and prosperity of Asia-Pacific and the  world.

Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Studies and  director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University  of China, said the BRI is one of the major international public goods  China offers to developing countries.

Many nations have responded positively to Chinese proposals such as  the BRI, the Global Development Initiative and Global Security  Initiative, Wang added.

It is part of China's sense of mission to advance globalization and  participate in global governance as it looks to help resolve issues  facing the whole of mankind, Wang said.

The Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative are  also important public goods and cooperative platforms China offers to  the global community and are part of China's solution to answering the  'question of the times', Wang added.

Feng, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said these Chinese  initiatives are being highlighted at a time when developing countries  are playing a fundamental role in China's diplomacy worldwide.

The initiatives are expected to consider and take care of the interests of the vast number of developing countries, he added.