A duet, not a duel: China’s world view has evolved
In 2018, the landmark Wuhan summit left a deep imprint on China-India relations. In April, China’s President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a significant political decision: holding an informal summit in Wuhan for in-depth strategic communication. As a new form of China-India high-level engagement, the summit increased trust and understanding between the two countries and led bilateral relations on to a track of healthy and steady growth. China and India are each other’s important neighbours and the world’s two largest developing countries. Friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation between China and India will positively affect the evolution of a global landscape and human society. President Xi emphasised that the Chinese “dragon” and Indian “elephant” should join each other in a duet, not a duel. PM Modi responded that when India and China work together, 1+1 is not 2, but 11. China will continue to work with India to explore a path for two big neighbours to live side by side for win-win outcomes and contribute our due share to the progress and prosperity of Asia and the world.
China also achieved all-round improvement and growth of our relations with other neighbouring countries. China-Japan relations were back on the right track; the traditional friendship between China and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was revitalised; and China-South Korea relations continued to grow steadily. The China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership is maturing, with consultation on a code of conduct in the South China Sea on the fast track. Facing a new situation in the Korean peninsula, we encouraged the North and the South to seize the opportunity to improve relations, support the United States and DPRK in starting the process of settling the issue, and stay committed to preserving the hard-won momentum of de-escalation in the peninsula.
The world in 2018 was full of uncertainty, a defining feature of the international landscape. The shift in balance of power accelerated, unilateralism and protectionism further developed, and the international system came under serious strain. Major-country competition intensified. Even as traditional hotspots remain unresolved, non-traditional security issues such as climate change and refugees cropped up. Xi made the judgement that “Our world is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century.”
Over the past year, under the guidance of the Xi Jingping Thought on Diplomacy, we opened new prospects and achieved new progress. China has successfully held the Boao Forum for Asia annual meeting and the first China International Import Expo (CIIE). We safeguarded the multilateral free trade system and sent a strong message of opening up wider to the world. International cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative entered the phase of solid progress and sustained growth, with more parties joining. Under the China-CELAC Forum, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, we held collective dialogues with almost all other developing countries across different continents. China and the United States effectively prevented further escalation of their trade frictions, China-Russia relations continued to grow at high level and China and Europe forged closer ties. At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Qingdao summit, member states spoke with one voice on major international and regional issues, making the SCO an anchor of stability in the world. At the G20 Summit, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the BRICS summit, China stood up against protectionism and unilateralism, advocating inclusiveness and win-win results in multilateral discussions.
In 2019, we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Looking ahead, we will focus on the following. First, ensure success of second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and 2nd CIIE. Second, make multipronged efforts to advance friendship and cooperation with all countries, strengthen political trust with neighbours and expand cooperation and shared interests. Third, actively safeguard peace and stability in our region and beyond. Fourth, take an active part in shaping global governance. Fifth, make more active efforts to serve our domestic agenda of reform and development. We will continue to advocate the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. We will stand firmly for the existing international order, participate constructively in settlement of hotspot issues, and deepen international exchanges on all fronts. These efforts will mark a new phase of major-country diplomacy with Chinese features.
Wang Yi is foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China
The views expressed are personal