Journal

Presenting Innovations in China's Diplomatic Theory and Practice

Li Junhua Director General of The Department of International Organizations and Conferences, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China
In September 2015, President Xi Jinping attended the high-level events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. This is the first time for President Xi to address the UN Headquarters and he delivered important speeches at the General Debate of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Peacekeeping Summit, the Sustainable Development Summit and the Global Leaders' Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment. With a historic perspective, a deep understanding of the underlying trend of the times and a forward-looking spirit, President Xi reviewed in his speeches the course of UN’s development, visited the spirit of the UN Charter and expounded on China's policies and propositions regarding international order and the future and destiny of mankind. He presented China's solutions to issues of international concern and put forward new initiatives and measures for practical cooperation, thus leaving a deep imprint in the evolution of international landscape and China's diplomacy.
 
Outlook on History, Overall Tasks and Main Pathway
 
On 29 September, President Xi addressed the UN General Assembly with a speech entitled “Working Together to Forge a New Partnership of Win-win Cooperation and Create a Community of Shared Future for Mankind”.
 
As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the world's anti-fascist war, what kind of outlook on history we uphold has become a matter of significant relevance. From a dialectical materialist point of view, President Xi put forward China’s outlook on history, which is “only by taking history as a mirror can we open up the future”, seizing the political and moral high ground. He stressed that history is a mirror and only by drawing lessons from history can the world avoid repeating past calamity. We should view history with awe and human conscience. The past cannot be changed, but the future can be shaped. Bearing history in mind is not to perpetuate hatred. Rather, it is for mankind to learn the lesson. Remembering history does not mean being obsessed with the past. Rather, in doing so, we aim to create a better future and pass the torch of peace from generation to generation.
 
From a strategic height, President Xi presented the nation’s reflection on history and love for peace. With explicit words, he shared with the world how one should see history, remember history and let history show the way forward. This was a solemn warning to those nations and individuals who tried to deny and distort history. Any promise about the future without facing history squarely, would only be empty talk that could never win the trust of the international community. Only those who respect history and have the sincerity and broadmindness to carry forward fine traditions can bring peace to the world and truly open up a promising future.
 
With a dialectical materialist perspective, President Xi laid out his incisive analysis and observations on the current world situation as well as the overall tasks ahead and the main pathway forward.
 
As for the current world situation, President Xi pointed out, based on a proper analysis of the features of the times, that the world is now experiencing an accelerated transformation from an old pattern to a new one. Peace, development and progress bring with them strengths far more powerful then war, poverty and backwardness. The world is moving faster towards multi-polarity with new and emerging opportunities and changes.
 
As for the overall tasks ahead, highlighting the common aspiration of people around the world, President Xi stated that peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom are common values of all and the lofty goals of the United Nations. Yet these goals are far from being achieved, and we need to continue our efforts for their realization.
 
As for the main pathway forward, President Xi emphasized that the new situation calls for new thinking. In this interconnected and interdependent world, countries need to carry forward the spirit of the UN Charter, forge a new partnership of win-win cooperation and a community of shared future for mankind.
 
A New Type of International Relationship Featuring Win-win Cooperation
 
President Xi proposed to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation at the end of year 2014. He gave a more comprehensive and systemic explanation of this concept while addressing the UN General Assembly. His speech touches the very core of international relations, covering key factors like state-to-state relationships, security, development, inter-civilization exchange and the ecological environment. Specific targets that we should endeavor to achieve in each of the five areas were set, and yet they were linked together by the underpinning notion of “win-win cooperation”. Dubbed as “the holistic five”, the concept presents a comprehensive theoretical system guiding international relations. This is of great practical significance.
 
— We should build partnerships in which countries treat each other as equals, engage in consultations and show mutual understanding. State-to-state relations shape the international landscape and its development. While the trend towards multi-polarity is evolving at a faster speed, hegemony and power politics still cast a shadow with frequent cases of the big and strong bullying the small and weak. President Xi prescribed a Chinese solution, which is commitment to the principle of sovereign equality. He further elaborated on the contents of this principle, stressing that the principle of sovereignty not only means that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries are inviolable and their internal affairs are not subject to interference, but also means that all countries’ right to independently choose their social systems and development paths should be upheld, and that all countries’ endeavors to promote economic and social development and improve their people’s lives should be respected. This world should not be a place where one player alone has the final say. Nor should it be a patriarchy. Rather, every country should have a say on international issues. A partnership with benign and sound interactions among all countries will be the fundamental safeguards underpinning world peace.
 
— We should create a security architecture featuring fairness, justice, joint contribution and shared benefits. President Xi stated that the law of the jungle, which leaves the weak at the mercy of the strong, the Cold War mentality, and the high-handed approach of the use of force should all be abandoned and a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security should be fostered. President Xi gave a special mentioning of the central role of the United Nations and its Security Council in ending conflicts and keeping peace. As the core of the collective security mechanism, the Security Council is mandated to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts while also having the power to take mandatory actions including sanctions and the use of force. The two approaches should go in parallel without partiality to achieve the ultimate goal of safeguarding world peace and stability. The Unite Nations have always valued the importance of preventive diplomacy, and President Xi echoed this by pointing out that “we should prevent conflicts from breaking out in the first place”. We should advance international cooperation in both economic and social fields and take a holistic approach to address traditional and non-traditional security threats. In this way, the soil breeding insecurity and instability will be removed.
 
— We should promote open, innovative and inclusive development that benefits all. As said by President Xi, allowing capital to blindly pursue profit can only trigger another crisis. Global prosperity cannot be built on the shaky foundation of a market without moral constraints. The growing gap between the rich and the poor is both unsustainable and unfair. The President stressed that development is meaningful only when it is inclusive and sustainable. To achieve such development requires openness, mutual assistance and win-win cooperation. It is an international consensus that development is the foundation of peace while poverty is the breeding ground of turbulence. However, the current wealth gap remains dreadful, the North-South division is getting wider, and the goal of common development seems beyond reach. Countries in the world should shoulder the primary responsibility in implementing Agenda 2030, mobilize domestic resources, scale up inputs into development, accelerate economic growth and bring the benefits to all the people. Developed countries should faithfully honor their ODA commitments and increase their capital, technical and capacity-building support to developing countries. The international community should include development into global macro-political coordination, and provide developing countries with a good environment for development through financial, trade and investment tools.
 
—We should increase inter-civilization exchanges to promote harmony, inclusiveness and respect for differences. In his speech delivered at the UNESCO Headquarters in March 2014, President Xi expounded on inter-civilization exchanges by stressing that we need to encourage different civilizations to respect each other and live together in harmony while promoting their exchanges and mutual learning as a bridge of friendship among peoples, a driving force behind human society, and a strong bond for world peace. When addressing the UN General Assembly, President Xi once again stated the importance of inter-civilization exchanges, and noted that in their interactions, civilizations must accept their differences. Only through mutual respect and mutual learning can we ensure the creative development of human civilization. As a saying goes, "All living things are nourished without injuring one another, and all roads run parallel without interfering with one another." Nations and civilizations differ from each other. They are unique in their own ways and no one is superior to others. We should encourage dialogue, exchanges and harmonious coexistence among different civilizations. In particular, we need to respect the rights of countries in making independent choices of their social systems and development paths. Through mutual learning, the diversity of the world and differences among countries could be translated into greater vitality and driving force for common development, lasting peace and prosperity.
 
— We should build an ecosystem that puts mother nature and green development first. In recent years, ecological disasters caused by climate change and the deterioration of the environment have left behind profound impact, leading to regional conflicts and clashes between countries and severely affecting social harmony and peace and development of the world. China was the first to propose the brand new concept of "ecological civilization". Ecological progress is not only what China needs for its development, but also in conformity with the common aspiration of mankind for a better future shared by all. President Xi called upon the world to respect nature, follow nature's ways and protect nature, and to firmly pursue green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable development. These are of crucial importance in promoting ecological progress, ensuring ecological security, protecting natural and eco-resources and achieving the sustainable development of mankind. President Xi made the solemn commitment that China will continue to contribute in this regard, and urged developed countries to fulfill their historical responsibility.
 
The propositions put forward by President Xi are innovative development of China's outlook on the international order, as well as a new way to inherit and carry forward the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. They offer new visions and open up new prospects for the development of the international relations.
 
China is Here for Peace
 
Peacekeeping operations were initiated by the United Nations as a collective action for peace and security and a practice of multilateralism. The profound evolution of the international situation brings new opportunities as well as problems and challenges to peacekeeping missions. The tasks are getting heavier, the number and scale are getting bigger, the situation is becoming even more complicated and the responsibilities are overwhelming. Where is the way forward for peacekeeping missions? At the same time, the funding and personnel of peacekeeping missions are all dependent on the support of UN member states, and the lack of resources and inadequate capability are serious constraints to the development of the operations.
 
President Xi addressed the UN Peacekeeping Summit with an important speech — "China is Here for Peace". He elaborated on China's principles and positions on issues related to world peace, put forward important initiatives on strengthening UN peacekeeping operations and announced many practical measures in support of peacekeeping missions.
 
President Xi pointed out that it was for the purpose of peace that the UN peacekeeping operations came into being. As an important means of upholding world peace and security, peacekeeping operations bring confidence to the conflict areas and hope to the local people. As we speak, people in many conflict-ridden places around the world are still yearning for peace and placing higher hopes on the United Nations and the peacekeeping operations. President Xi stressed that China is of the view that the basic principles of peacekeeping should be strictly followed and the UN Charter and the Hammarskjold principles should continue to be adhered to. The Security Council resolutions should be implemented in their entirety, allowing no country to act beyond its mandate. The peacekeeping system needs to be improved. Peacekeeping operations should be proceeded and followed by preventive diplomacy and peace building and in cooperation with political mediation, rule of law, national reconciliation and improvement of livelihood. Rapid response needs to be enhanced to give peace more chances and win more time for life. And greater support and help should be given to Africa to increase African countries' capacity in keeping peace and stability, so that African issues can be addressed in an African way.
 
President Xi announced that, in order to support the improvement and strengthening of UN peacekeeping operations, China will join the new UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and has decided to take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops. China will give favorable consideration to UN requests for more Chinese engineering soldiers and transportation and medical staff to take part in UN peacekeeping operations. In the coming five years, China will train 2,000 peacekeepers from other countries, and carry out 10 demining assistance programs. Also in this period, China will provide free military aid of US$100 million to the African Union to support the building of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. China will send the first peacekeeping helicopter squad to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, and use part of the China-UN peace and development fund to support UN peacekeeping operations.
 
President Xi delivered a strong message to the world stating China's firm support to peacekeeping missions. It is the Chinese thinking and perception regarding the future orientation of peacekeeping missions. By reiterating the commitment to the fundamental principles of peacekeeping operations, President Xi demonstrated a responsible attitude toward the long-term progress of the operations and voiced the common aspirations of developing countries. This important thinking on how to improve the operational system is China's contribution to the development of peacekeeping missions. The measures announced by President Xi are impressive. Under the UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and at the request of the United Nations, China has taken the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad. This is a new experiment and demonstrates China's courage to blaze new trails and shoulder responsibilities. While China is currently sharing a considerable amount of UN peacekeeping budget, the additional measures announced in support of the AU in peacekeeping areas, once again showcase the importance China attaches to peace and stability in Africa.
 
Greater Efforts for Women's All-round Development
 
On 27 September, China and UN Women co-hosted the "Global Leaders' Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: A Commitment to Action". President Xi presided over the conference and delivered an important speech. This is the first ever leaders' meeting on women and is of historic significance. The high attendance of leaders to the meeting is a reflection of the importance that relevant parties have attached to women-related issues. It also shows their active response to China's initiative of hosting the meeting and embodies China's influence and appeal in the world.
 
When addressing the meeting, President Xi spoke highly of the important role of women as creators of material and spiritual wealth and an important force driving social development and progress. A review of history shows that without women’s liberation and progress, the liberation and progress of mankind would not be attainable. President Xi stated that the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing adopted the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, laying down strategic goals and policy frameworks for promoting gender equality and ensuring women’s rights. The spirit championed by the Beijing Conference has catalyzed positive changes, and dreams that were once beyond reach have come true. However, we still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality.
 
President Xi's proposals on the all-round development of women offer strong guidance to address the difficulties and challenges facing women's programs in the world. In his speech, President Xi proposed to promote women’s development in tandem with social and economic progress, protect women’s rights and interests, build harmonious and inclusive societies and foster a global environment favorable for women’s development. This proposal of four inter-connected points is a "Chinese solution" for the all-round development of women.
 
President Xi stressed that development cannot be achieved without women, and its benefit must be shared by all the people, women included. We need to come up with more well-rounded development strategies that take into account national realities, gender differences and the special needs of women and aim to ensure women’s equal share in the fruits of development. Policy measures should be updated to stimulate women’s potential and raise their participation in the process of social and economic development. China’s experiences show that a higher level of social and economic participation by women helps to raise their status, and it also boosts social productivity and invigorates the economy. Practice in China shows that better participation of women in economic and social activities will both lift women's social position and boost social productivity and economic vitality. The proposal is made on the basis of China's experience.  
 
President Xi also emphasized that women’s rights and interests are basic human rights and they must be protected by laws and regulations. We must build up women’s capacity of playing their part in the society and economy, involve women at higher levels of decision making, ensure sufficient basic medical services for women and pay greater attention to women's education. This important declaration embodies China's understanding of women's rights and interests, and this is a concept covering a wide range of areas including women’s rights for development, education, health and employment. This is an in-depth understanding of women’s development and human rights from the Chinese perspective and indeed China's contribution to the world.
 
President Xi's important proposals are made on the basis of systemic planning and innovative thinking. By unifying the immediate and long-term targets and addressing both the symptoms and the root causes, this set of proposals is both a theoretical support and a guideline for actions promoting women’s development.
 
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary, has made bold innovations in the theory and practice of diplomacy and introduced a set of new visions, new ideas and new measures based on the analysis of the evolution of international landscape and the trend of national development. The important speeches delivered by President Xi at the UN events expounded on the innovations in China's diplomatic theory and practice after the 18th Party Congress, and will guide our work to promote major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and sound development of international cooperation and global governance. 
 
 
Li Junhua is Director General of The Department of International Organizations and Conferences, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China. 
 
 


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