Minister sees limits to role of diplomacy

Updated: 2010-03-01 00:00
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Minister sees limits to role of diplomacy

Beijing — China will use its full repertoire of diplomatic skills to deal with international affairs, but there may be issues beyond its influence, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has said amid growing global expectations of China exerting a greater role in world affairs.

As the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) — China’s top legislature — convenes this week, foreign policy remains in the spotlight over a series of thorny affairs.

China’s stand on the Iran nuclear program, its efforts to help rekindle the stalled Six-Party Talks on resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, and how it handles challenges such as climate change are on the list of contentious issues.

In an interview with China Daily before the NPC session, Yang said China “will never shirk from international roles that are within our capacity, and will continue to meet its global obligations. At the same time, China, as a developing country, will make more contributions within its capacity to world peace and development.

“We won’t do things that go beyond our strength and current level of development.”

Yang made the remarks in the context of China’s rising role in world affairs, which has generated both expectations of the country playing a bigger role and uneasiness about its development.

According to Yang, the rising global role has given China unprecedented opportunities in its diplomacy.

“We have a more solid basis to strengthen cooperation with other countries, more methods at our disposal to safeguard the favorable external environment, more diversified ways to promote the interests of developing countries in the international arena, and more enabling conditions for making the international order more equitable and reasonable.”

However, as other countries seek more cooperation with China on major world affairs, they hold higher expectations, Yang said.

“There are those who really want China to play a bigger role and those who overestimate China’s strength, exaggerate and play up China’s capacity to influence world affairs.”

Yang called for an objective and rational examination of the spectrum of discussion on China.

During the past several years, China’s success in holding the Olympics, handling the global financial crisis and combating climate change has thrust the country into the global limelight and made it the focus of world attention, according to Yang.

We need to look at those comments on China’s international role in an objective and rational way, and with the full understanding that China will  remain a developing country for a long time, he said.

“We need to discuss in a matter-of-fact manner the achievements we’ve made, the international influence we enjoy and the challenges confronting us in foreign affairs.”

Despite repeated statements that the country seeks the path of peaceful development and the fact that China still remains a developing country with a considerable proportion of its people living below the poverty line, rumblings on the “China threat” can still be heard from politicians in some countries.

 “The situation surrounding our diplomatic affairs keeps changing, but facts speak louder than words. In the difficult year of 2009, China worked hard to contribute as much as 50 percent to the global GDP growth, which benefited not only the Chinese, but also many countries and people in the world. Facts will continue to show that China’s development poses no threat to anyone; instead, it offers more opportunities for all,” Yang said.

He said that the last few years have seen a fast-changing global landscape with the most complicated changes ever since the end of the Cold War. China’s diplomacy has also assumed several distinct features.

One of the most notable features should be the ever increasing role that Chinese leaders have played in diplomacy.

For instance, Chinese leaders have joined their foreign counterparts in addressing global and regional issues, attending G20 summits as well as the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.

“Chinese leaders have demonstrated their principled stand and outstanding diplomatic skills, and showcased China’s image as a responsible country, winning us friendship, support and cooperation,” Yang said.

Other features include:

• A framework of all-round diplomacy has come into being. It consists of relations with major world powers, neighboring countries, developing countries, as well as global organizations.

• Diplomacy has become increasingly interconnected with the development of the country. For instance, Olympics-related diplomacy was the focus of the foreign ministry’s work in 2008, while combating the global financial crisis was the major task in 2009.

• Innovation on diplomatic theories and institutions has become a major factor driving China’s diplomacy. For instance, in view of the new demands on diplomatic work, new departments including the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, Center for Consular Assistance and Protection and Public Diplomacy Office have been set up in the foreign ministry.

Yang said that 2010 is a crucial year in countering the impact of the global financial crisis and striving for economic recovery. It is also an important year for China to map out its development blueprint for the next five years. The overall international situation is expected to remain stable, while a variety of risks and destabilizing factors continue to exist.

Outlining the tasks for this year, Yang said China will stay committed to the path of peaceful development and win-win strategy of opening-up.

China will actively deal with the challenges in the political, economic and security spheres in the post-economic crisis era to preserve national sovereignty, security and development interests.

China will continue to work to make the international order fairer and more equitable and develop cooperative and productive relations with other countries on the basis of the code of conduct of international relations, Yang said.