Colombo, September 28 (newsin.asia): The Chinese government’s latest White Paper on foreign policy slams the United States, praises Russia, and is hopeful of fruitful relations with Europe.
But the delineation of China’s policy on its neighborhood lacks specifics though the region is to get “top priority”.
Interestingly, no neighboring country, including India, which is China’s largest and closest neighbor and with which it has been having a long-standing border dispute, is named.
US Comes In For Rap
The White Paper entitled “China and the World in the New Era,” released by the State Council Information Office on Friday, comes down hard on the US even as it admits that China is not yet equal to the US and that it is still a developing country.
“China-US relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. China is the world’s largest developing country and the United States is the largest developed country. Cooperation is the only correct choice for the two countries, and a mutually beneficial relationship is the only path to a better future, “ the White paper says.
“The US should treat our bilateral relations from a broad and rational perspective. China has no intention of challenging the United States, nor of replacing the US; the US is unable to force China’s hand, and even less likely to halt China’s development.”
“The US cannot maintain its strength by attempting to contain and suppress other countries, or by transferring its own domestic stresses outward. The US should abandon the Cold War mentality, and develop a proper understanding of itself, China, and the world.”
“It should adapt to the development and prosperity of other countries, and live in harmony with the rest of the world, which is the principle major countries should always follow.”
“ The Thucydides trap (when an established power goes to war to stem the rise of a new power) is not an unbreakable law. However, any serious strategic miscalculation between major countries risks turning conflict and confrontation into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“For the wellbeing of the two nations and the rest of the world, China is ready to work with the US to shoulder their shared responsibilities as major countries, expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, manage differences based on mutual respect, and jointly advance China-US relations focusing on coordination, cooperation and stability.”
Continuing Honeymoon With Russia
On Russia, the White Paper said: “China and Russia have walked hand in hand through the past seven decades, each as the other’s largest neighbor. They have withstood the test of changes in the world and set a good example in fostering a new model of international relations.”
“Our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is mature, stable and solid, enjoying the highest level of mutual trust and coordination and the highest strategic value. The upgrade of the China-Russia relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era marks a brighter future for our bilateral relations.”
“China has always prioritized its relations with Russia in its diplomatic agenda. China will work with Russia to build a deeper friendship between our two countries, support each other on issues concerning our core interests, closely coordinate with each other on major issues of mutual concern, enhance the connectivity of our development strategies, and push our bilateral relations to greater heights, wider fields and deeper levels.”
“Our relationship will serve as both a ballast and a propeller in a complex and volatile international situation. A close partnership between China and Russia contributes to world peace, security and stability.”
Soft Corner For Europe
The White Paper indicates that China has a soft-corner for Europe. The latter could be hospitable to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while the US is implacably hostile to it. Beijing’s international infrastructural project girdling the globe is seen by the US as an attempt to encircle it strategically.
“Europe is an important pillar in the world today, and also a comprehensive strategic partner to China. We endeavor to promote a partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization, connecting our strengths, markets and civilizations, and increasing the global influence of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. China will continue to support European integration, and a more important role in international affairs for a more united and stronger EU. The two sides will extend cooperation, make joint efforts to uphold multilateralism, and promote stability throughout the world,” the White Paper says.
Top Priority To Neighborhood
Vis-à-vis it’s “neighborhood” China’s White Paper is somewhat dismissive though it says that the region will get “top priority”.
“China sees its neighboring countries as the foundation of its development and prosperity. It gives top priority to neighborhood diplomacy in foreign relations, and takes promoting regional peace, stability and development as its bounden duty.”
“In accordance with the policy of forging friendships and partnerships with our neighbors based on the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, we will continue to increase mutual trust and assistance, promote connectivity, further mutually beneficial cooperation, and ensure peace and tranquility, so that our development will bring even greater gains to our neighbors and gather strength for turning China and its neighbors into a community of shared future.”
“China will continue to lead regional cooperation and safeguard regional peace and development.”
Given the lack of detail on the complex neighborhood in the White Paper, it is clear that China is now painting on a larger global canvas, relegating India and the neighborhood to a subordinate or subaltern status.
As a wannabe global power with some way to go, China has chosen to tread the path of multilateralism to be able to take on a dominant power like the US and its allies.
“Supporting multilateralism is the common aspiration of the international community. In today’s world, all countries have converging interests and share weal and woe, making the global trend towards multipolarity and democratic international relations irresistible. Gone are the days when the strong had the final say,” the White Paper says.
“As a founding member of the UN, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and the largest developing country, China will continue to uphold the international system with the UN at its core, and the international order underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and join forces with other countries in supporting multilateralism and opposing unilateralism.”
Settling Disputes Multilaterally
In an interesting reference to the settlement of international disputes, the White Paper opts for a multilateral approach in place of a unilateral or bilateral approach. This could be an attempt to portray itself as a non-hegemon in a world dominated by hegemons.
“China advocates that whenever differences and disputes crop up between countries they should turn to consultation through multilateral frameworks or platforms, seek common ground while reserving differences, increase common interests while dissolving differences, and by doing so, broaden consensus,” it says.
“China will remain committed to the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core, and oppose unilateral conduct such as erecting walls between nations, undermining others, or withdrawing into isolation.”
“We give active support to the WHO, WIPO, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Labor Organization (ILO) in playing a better role in global governancethe peaceful settlement of differences and disputes.”
The White paper makes it a point to stress that China does not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, in a world where the Right to Protect (R2P) has become a credo of the post-colonial era powers.
“We respect the right of the peoples of all countries to choose their own development paths and social systems, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and oppose interference in others’ domestic affairs,” the White Paper said.
“China will never impose its will on other countries, nor will it allow others to impose theirs on the Chinese people. We will never interfere in the domestic affairs of others, nor will we allow any country or force to interfere in ours. China stands for the equality of all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, and opposes the law of the jungle that leaves the weak at the mercy of the strong,” it says.
Power to Developing Countries
China sees itself as a benefactor vis-a-vis the developing countries as it considers itself a developing country too (at least vis-à-vis the US and Western Europe).
In this regard the White Paper says that China “resolutely rejects hegemonic thinking and power politics, and strives to increase the representation and voice of developing countries in international affairs.”
“China will undertake more international responsibilities, work with other countries to safeguard human conscience and international truth, and uphold equity and justice in regional and international affairs.”