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Salient Characteristics of China's Diplomacy
Government Work Report explains Chinese global strategy
By Shen Dingli | Web Exclusive
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on January 17 (XINHUA)

In his Report on the Work of the Government delivered at the opening of the Fifth Session of the 12th National People's Congress on March 5, Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that China has left a strong mark on global economic governance with steps such as successfully hosting the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province in 2016 and helping to deliver a number of important "pioneering, leading, and institutional outcomes."

These three words—pioneering, leading, and institutional—can also be employed to describe China's current major-country diplomacy. With China's national strength growing and the nation moving toward the center of the world arena, it has proposed to improve and innovate international relations. China is also guiding the international order in the direction of cooperation and is providing solutions and resources for building a system for multilateral coordination.

A pioneering spirit. The Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative, popularly known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the founding of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and pursuing a global infrastructure connectivity alliance are all efforts by China to upgrade the current international system. These initiatives, based on win-win prospects for Asia and the whole world, are of pioneering significance. The Chinese solutions, meant for the benefit of the world, have aroused positive response that will be demonstrated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing in May.

A leading role. The Belt and Road Initiative was conceived at a time when China sought to combine its own growing infrastructure construction capacity with corresponding demands in other countries. It is also a result of China's consideration of the development order of neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

The times are pushing China to the world center stage and China is increasingly aware of its responsibilities as a large and leading nation. The international community needs a model. As an international order featuring cooperation enables China to grow and open up more to the world, China is preparing to set an example for the international community.

The world economy is in a downturn with emergent populism in many countries. The traditional powers are flexing their supremacy. They may become less interested in cooperation and even pursue development at the expense of neighbors. Against this backdrop, Chinese President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of globalization and the need for it in his speeches in Davos and Geneva in Switzerland at the beginning of this year. As an emerging power, China is a responsible player, leading the way in global cooperation. During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, it will seek to contribute more to the world.

Institutional innovation. Regarding world governance, China is calling for the establishment of international mechanisms to improve security and well-being through consultation and joint action. In 2016, it worked with other countries to make the Paris Agreement on climate change a reality. Earlier this year, the China-proposed concept of "a human community with shared destiny" was written into a UN resolution on the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the African Union's economic development program, and gave a new dimension to it.

China has also applied this pivotal concept to cyberspace governance, as evidenced by the release of the International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace in March. The document elaborated the Chinese vision on cyberspace collaboration for the first time, contributing to global efforts to devise rules for the virtual world.

The author is deputy dean of Fudan University's Institute of International Studies

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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