China has been in its best period of development in modern times, while the world is undergoing the most profound and unprecedented changes in a century. Against this backdrop, China enjoys many favorable external conditions to carry out diplomatic work presently and in the years to come. President Xi Jinping made this assessment at the country's highest-level meeting on diplomatic work.
On June 22-23, the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs was held in Beijing. In a keynote speech, Xi stressed that the banner of a community with a shared future for mankind should be upheld to help make the global governance system fairer and more reasonable, and the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, should be solidified to elevate the country's opening up to a new level.
Along with its rapid economic development in recent decades, China is moving ever closer to the center of the world stage, and diplomatic work is taking a correspondingly pivotal role in China's overall policy decisions. The conference not only reviewed China's achievements on the diplomatic front since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, but also provided theoretical and practical answers to the major question of how to sustain progress in foreign affairs in the new era—Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.
Wang Yiwei, a professor of international studies at Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said the establishment of Xi's thought on diplomacy as an overarching guideline makes the design of China's diplomacy much clearer. Xi's important diplomatic ideas include building of a community with a shared future for mankind, the Belt and Road Initiative and the creation of a network of global partnerships.
In his speech, Xi listed 10 principles that the country's diplomacy should follow and offered clarification on political guidance, historic missions, major diplomatic ideas, strategic plans and the direction of the country's development. According to these principles, China will advance major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics to fulfill the mission of realizing national rejuvenation and take preserving world peace and pursuing common development as the purpose to promote the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.
"The 10 principles are the essence of Xi's diplomatic thought. They are the systematic summary of China's diplomatic theories and practices since the 18th CPC National Congress and the foremost guide for ensuring the sustainable development of China's diplomacy," said Chen Xiangyang, Director of the Crisis Management Research Center under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The world is undergoing unprecedented changes and China is faced with both huge opportunities and challenges for its development, according to Ruan Zongze, Executive Vice President of the China Institute of International Studies. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, he said, China's diplomacy has taken on a new look. He believes that implementing Xi's diplomatic thought can help the country create a favorable external environment for the realization of China's national rejuvenation and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
An inspiring conception
In his speech, Xi pointed out that in order to have a correct assessment of the international situation, an accurate understanding of history, the overall situation and China's role and position in the world pattern should be formed.
Men Honghua, a senior researcher of international studies at Shanghai-based Tongji University, said that in today's world, uncertainty is swiftly emerging, and therefore only through a correct assessment of the international situation and seeking truth can China's diplomacy stay on track.
Xi in his speech not only suggested observing the current international situation, but also reviewed the past, summarizing historical laws and looking forward to the future to better understand the trend of history. As for the accurate understanding of the overall situation, Xi underlined not only the observation of phenomena and details, but also a deep appreciation of the essence and overall situation, in order not to get lost in the complex and changing international situation.
"We must recognize that the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society does not change our assessment of the present stage of socialism in China. The basic dimension of the Chinese context that our country is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism has not changed. China's international status as the world's largest developing country has not changed," Xi said.
Being both a developing country and a major country is China's self-identified role in its diplomacy, said Wang Fan, Vice President of China Foreign Affairs University. As a developing country, China needs to focus on its own development and conduct external work thoughtfully according to its national conditions. As a major country, China should fully realize its influence in shaping world history and its responsibility of playing a more active and constructive role in international affairs.
Calling the period between the 19th and 20th CPC national congresses "a historical juncture for realizing the Two Centenary Goals of China," Xi said the period is of great significance in the historical progress of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. According to the twin goals, China will become a moderately prosperous society with a stronger economy, greater democracy, more advanced science and education, thriving culture, greater social harmony and a better quality of life by the centenary of the CPC, and will basically achieve modernization and turn itself into a modern socialist country by the centenary of the People's Republic of China.
Xi called for an in-depth analysis of the law of how the international situation changes when the world comes upon a transitional period and the accurate grasp of the basic characteristics of the external environment China is facing at this historical juncture, in order to better plan and facilitate the country's work on foreign affairs.
Building a community with a shared future for mankind is one of the goals of China's diplomacy in the new era. It is also the direction that China hopes to strive for along with the combined efforts of the international community.
At the conference, Xi particularly emphasized this dimension of Chinese diplomacy. He stressed the importance of keeping in mind both domestic and international imperatives in dealing with foreign affairs. He said the country's diplomatic work should take national rejuvenation and promoting world peace and common development as the main tasks, strive to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and firmly safeguard the country's sovereignty, security and development interests.
According to Ma Zhaoxu, China's Permanent Representative to the UN, Xi's diplomatic vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and creating a new type of international relations is a solution provided by China for addressing global problems amid unprecedented changes in the international situation.
Against the backdrop of prevailing protectionism and a rising suspicion of multilateralism, the world needs more than ever an all-win solution to address our common challenges, Ma said.
China's diplomatic ideas have gained increasing acknowledgment and acceptance among the international community. Building a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative have both been incorporated into UN documents.
Dai Changzheng, Dean of the School of International Relations at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics, shared Ma's view. In the face of the global wave of populism, isolationism and protectionism, world peace and global development are confronted with ever more severe challenges, he said.
"The lessons of the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century also require the international community to abandon the zero-sum mentality. Collaboratively building a community with a shared future conforms to the trend of the times," Dai said.