2016 banner year for Xi diplomacy

Author: Chen Heying

Posted on: Global Times, December 23rd,2016


Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s demonstration of China as a major power this year has expanded China’s voice in international affairs, casting China as a leading advocate of free trade and globalization amid rising isolationism and protectionism, experts said.

Five foreign trips took Xi to the Middle East in January, Central and Eastern Europe as well as Central Asia in March and June, Southeast and South Asia in October, and Latin America in November.

“Since Xi took office in 2013, China’s global diplomatic push has been completed,” Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

In a commentary published in the People’s Daily on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China has become a stabilizing presence amid a chaotic and turbulent international situation.

The world has witnessed the spread of terrorism and rising anti-globalization sentiment in 2016, Wang said.

“Facing the historic changes in the world balance of power and popular trends in reforming the global governance system, the Communist Party of China Central Committee proposed Chinese solutions in a timely fashion to strengthen global governance,” the foreign minister said.

Leaders of the Group of 20, at a summit held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in early September, agreed to set a course for the global economy, creating new paths for growth, modernizing the world economy, improving global governance, revitalizing international trade and investment and promoting inclusive development.

These achievements came after China’s long-term appeals to focus on developing the world economy and reforming the international financial system.

Confronted with the differences between developed countries and the tortuous development of emerging economies, China has bolstered confidence in the world economy and played a bigger role in global governance in 2016, Su Ge, president of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

“China’s proposed plans will bring sustainable development to the global economy, while major economies like the US and Europe are awaiting economic restructuring,” Wu said.

Echoing Wu, Su said that China’s proposal to promote free trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Lima, Peru, is of great significance against the backdrop of anti-globalization sentiment.

At the APEC CEO meeting in Lima, Xi renewed his call to push forward the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), saying it is “a strategic initiative critical for the long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.”

“We should firmly pursue the FTAAP as an institutional mechanism for ensuring an open economy in the Asia-Pacific,” he told global business leaders, emphasizing “openness is the lifeblood of the Asia-Pacific economy.”

“The solutions put forward by Xi in the international arena and his One Belt and One Road initiative are a remedy for recovering the sluggish economy,” Su noted.

In addition, China, a responsible major power, has maintained international and regional peace, he said, citing the sanctions against North Korea in the looming Korean Peninsula crisis and negotiations with Manila to peacefully settle the South China Sea dispute as examples.

Consolidated cooperation

China has made continuous headway in jointly building the Belt and Road initiative, an international public product featuring openness, cooperation and mutual benefit, with other countries in 2016, Wang Yi said.

Wang said the initiative, endorsed and participated in by some 100 nations and international organizations, has guided countries along the Silk Road to achieve common prosperity.

Proposed by Xi in 2013, the initiative comprises both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with visions to connect Asian, European and African countries more closely and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.

“Since the Belt and Road initiative was rolled out two years ago, exchanges between heads of state during Xi’s visits have further consolidated cooperation under the initiative in 2016, especially in the fields of infrastructure and energy,” Wu said.

While the world’s second-largest economy needs oil to feed its development, the first visit by President Xi to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran in more than five years since the start of the region’s turmoil, has gone far beyond ensuring China’s energy security.

During Xi’s talk with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Xi called on the two countries to build a long-term and stable cooperative relationship in the energy field, and carry out cooperation in railways, highways, ports, mining, communications, engineering machinery and infrastructure construction.

In return, China is willing to invest in infrastructure projects such as roads, electricity and ports, considering the backward infrastructure in those countries, Wu said.


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