Build on Past Progress to Write New Chapters in People-to-People Diplomacy
By Qin Gang
I would like to extend, on behalf of the Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warm congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA). Over the past 70 years, the CPIFA has played an effective supporting role in China’s overall diplomacy and implemented the CPC’s guidelines and policies on diplomacy with real earnest. Staying true to the purpose of “building friendship for the country”, the CPIFA has conducted fruitful people-to-people diplomacy. It has played an important role in New China’s endeavor to expand its diplomatic space, deepen mutual understanding and mutual trust with other countries, foster a favorable external environment and enhance its international image.
People-to-people diplomacy is an integral part of our country’s overall diplomacy. Over the years, the CPIFA has focused on the central tasks of Chinese diplomacy and built stronger bonds of friendship globally. It maintains long-term engagement with a large number of well-known statesmen worldwide, and keeps expanding and deepening exchanges with political leaders, parliaments, think tanks, media and youth across the world. Moreover, it has actively carried out Track II dialogues, public diplomacy activities and analyses of international situation. Known for the diverse models, multiple channels of communication and extensive coverage in its work, the CPIFA often has a unique role to play when state-to-state exchanges run into difficulties, serving as a useful supplement to the official diplomatic agenda.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. The Chinese nation, through seven decades of hard work, has realized a remarkable transformation from standing up, to growing rich, and to becoming strong. We working on the diplomatic front are the witnesses to and participants of this historic journey of national development and renewal. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party’s Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has put forth, in light of the new historical stage in China’s development, the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of great national renewal. With a keen insight into the overarching development trend in China and the world at large, General Secretary Xi Jinping has made the key assessment that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. He called for a community with a shared future for mankind, advocated Belt and Road cooperation, and spearheaded changes to the global governance system. Such vision has profound and far-reaching significance for China’s peaceful development and for prosperity and progress in the world. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, particularly Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, we have tackled one challenge after another and made continued progress in the diplomatic field. We have stood firm in defense of our national sovereignty, security and development interests, proactively extended all-round diplomacy to more areas, contributed China’s perspectives and input, strengthened exchanges and mutual learning with other countries, and opened up new vistas for major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. As a result, China has seen an unprecedented lift of its international standing, with a growing profile, appeal and influence in the world. We are closer than ever before to the center of the global stage and to the goal of great national renewal.
Against the backdrop of global changes unseen in a century, China’s relations with the world are also undergoing historic transformations. On the one hand, the advancement of multi-polarity and economic globalization, along with the unfolding industrial and technological revolutions, has brought new opportunities to the development of all countries. On the other hand, however, rising unilateralism, protectionism and populism are creating more uncertainties and destabilizing factors. On China’s part, our development has reached a period when the time frames of the Two Centenary Goals converge, which is of great significance for the historic journey of the great renewal of the Chinese nation. Against such an international and domestic backdrop, our work to advance major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era faces both historic opportunities and severe risks and challenges at the same time. All of us working on the diplomatic front must study and implement with real earnest Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, particularly Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, and have a full grasp of the historical context of China’s development and the defining trend of world development. We need to keep in mind China’s international and domestic imperatives and drive forward the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. In so doing, we will be able to preserve and extend the period of strategic opportunity for China’s development and create a more favorable international environment for our strive for the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of great national renewal.
As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, new chapters have been opened in people-to-people diplomacy. As New China’s first institute dedicated to people-to-people diplomacy, the CPIFA needs to make its 70th anniversary a new starting point to implement with real earnest Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, particularly Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. The CPIFA must be keenly aware of the need to uphold political integrity, keep in mind the bigger picture, follow the leadership core, and meet Party requirements. It must have full confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. It must resolutely uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position on the CPC Central Committee and in the Party, and resolutely uphold the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee. It must keep in mind our goal and mission at this period of historic convergence, improve strategic planning, rise to its responsibilities by tapping into the people-to-people diplomacy and contribute to major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in a new era.
First, studying and implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy in a deep-going way to keep our diplomatic work to the right direction. Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy has spelled out the historic mission, fundamental goals and essential principles for China’s diplomatic work in the new era. It is a crystallization of our diplomatic theory and practice over the last seven decades. As an important component of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, it sets the fundamental course of action for China’s diplomatic work in the new era. We need to study and gain a deeper understanding of its system, essence and core, and equip ourselves with this Thought to guide our practice.
Second, focusing on the overall diplomacy of the Party and the country to better serve our national development and renewal. In 2020, China will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and thus meet the first Centenary Goal. That same year will also see us embarking on a new journey of making all-round efforts to build a modern socialist country. The year 2021 will mark the centenary of the CPC. In conducting people-to-people diplomacy, which is an important component of China’s diplomatic work, we need to fully understand the features of this period of historic convergence, and have an accurate assessment of the international situation and the global trend so that we will be able to contribute to the overall diplomacy and deliver smooth progress toward the goals of national development and renewal.
Third, cementing public support for a new type of international relations to foster a favorable external environment. Friendship, which derives from close ties between peoples, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. The CPIFA must stay true to its mission of forging friendship for the country, and continue to build stronger bonds of friendship to facilitate deeper mutual understanding, mutual trust, and practical cooperation between China and the rest of the world. In serving the overall diplomacy, the CPIFA needs to actively contribute to the growth of China’s relations with the US, Russia, the EU and other major powers in a comprehensive and balanced way; it needs to help deepen good neighborliness, amity and cooperation between China and its neighbors; and it needs to contribute to the further growth of China’s friendship with other developing countries to cement the foundation of our external work. The CPIFA also has an important role to play in the efforts to better communicate China’s stories to the international community, enhance China’s international image, develop more platforms to advance Belt and Road cooperation and stay engaged in global governance to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Fourth, being mindful of worst-case scenario and enhancing the ability to fight and win. China is now in a strategic period of important opportunities and will remain so for quite a long time to come. On the other hand, however, our external environment is getting increasingly complex and severe. Under such circumstances, we need to stay cool-headed, keep a watchful eye on potential dangers and be mindful of worse-case scenario to avert and defuse major risks and challenges. In conducting people-to-people diplomacy, we need to strengthen the top-level design, strategic planning, and policy-making, as well as to enhance our ability to navigate the complex international situation and to fight and win. We need to think more strategically and act more proactively and coherently in our work.
Fifth, enhancing organizational guarantee and developing a strong contingent for people-to-people diplomacy. We need to uphold the CPC’s centralized, unified leadership over external work. Acting on General Secretary Xi Jinping’s requirements for diplomatic personnel in the new era, we must hold the personnel working in the field of people-to-people diplomacy to such standards as being politically reliable, professionally able, well disciplined and impeccable in their conduct. On political issues, they must demonstrate the traits of loyalty, integrity and a sense of responsibility. They must stay true to their ideal and conviction, and hone their professional skills and overall qualities. Only in this way can they meet the requirements of people-to-people diplomacy in the new era.
In our historic journey toward great national renewal, those working at the people-to-people diplomatic front undertake a glorious mission and heavy tasks at the same time. That makes it all the more important for us to rally closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, particularly Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, let us stay true to our mission, rise to our mandate, keep pace with the times and break new ground. Let us work together to make new headway in the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and to make greater contribution to the realization of the Two Centenary Goals and the Chinese Dream of great national renewal.
Qin Gang is Vice Minister of Foreign Ministry.
Qin Gang is Vice Minister of Foreign Ministry.