China navigates complex international issues, striking balance in major-country diplomacy in 2023
Published: Dec 25, 2022 09:25 PM
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the symposium on the international situation and
China's foreign relations on December 25, 2022. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the symposium on the international situation and China's foreign relations on December 25, 2022. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China has greatly advanced its diplomatic agenda in 2022 with head-of-state diplomacy setting the pace for the country's overall diplomatic work, which was highlighted by one home-ground event, two major initiatives and three important visits, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday in reviewing the country's diplomatic work for 2022. Chinese experts believe that the overall successful diplomatic work helped China navigate complex global and regional issues, consolidate consensus and strike a balance in maintaining strategic stability in relations with other major countries such as the US and Russia. 

During a symposium on the international situation and China's foreign relations held in Beijing on Sunday, Wang reviewed the country's diplomatic work in 2022, saying that first, the head-of-state diplomacy has set the pace for the country's overall diplomatic work, with the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games being successfully held, and the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative being brought up, in addition to three major visits made by President Xi Jinping from September to December.

In maintaining strategic stability in relations with other major countries, we have firmly rejected US' erroneous China policy and have been exploring the right way for the two countries to get along with each other, Wang said. When it comes to China-Russia relations, the two countries firmly supported each other in upholding respective core interests and our political and strategic mutual trust has been further consolidated, the Chinese official said. 

As some country is seeking to revive the Cold War mentality and fabricating the false narrative of democracy versus authoritarianism, China and Russia have stood in solidarity with other countries to steadfastly push for multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations, and oppose hegemony and reject a new Cold War, Wang said. 

He also mentioned that China has continued to pursue friendship and cooperation with Europe and stay committed to the healthy development of China-Europe relations and followed an open regionalism to build a stable and prosperous Asian home together, forging a new paradigm of equality, sincerity and mutual assistance among developing countries. 

Looking forward to the diplomatic work in 2023, Wang said that the head-of-state diplomacy will reach a new climax, and many highlights are expected in home-ground diplomacy and will expand all-round diplomacy in a coordinated manner by deepening strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Russia and following through on the common understandings reached between the Chinese and the US leaders, striving to recalibrate China-US relationship and bring it back on the right course. 

Navigating complexity 

The overall success of China's diplomacy in 2022 was made by a strong leadership and an effective coordination between domestic and international situation, especially when the country has been optimizing its epidemic control work and boosting the economic recovery, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"We have been helping other countries to reach some consensus on international and regional issues, which also showed that our capabilities of navigating through complex foreign relations have been further enhanced," Li said.

2022 will be remembered by many as the year of rising uncertainties and conflicts as the special military operation of Russia in Ukraine since the February also shocked the world, which also deeply unsettled security in Europe, according to media reports. 

With regard to the Ukraine crisis, China has consistently upheld the fundamental principles of objectivity and impartiality, without favoring one side or the other, or adding fuel to the fire, still less seeking selfish gains from the situation, Wang said. "We have kept to the right direction of promoting peace talks, searched for a solution that addresses both symptoms and root causes of the issue, and stood firm as an anchor of peace instead of fanning the flame of the conflict," he said. 

Fu Cong, the new Chinese envoy in Brussels, was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post recently that China's position on the Ukraine crisis has been quite balanced, and China is ready to engage in any peaceful efforts. 

On the other hand, Fu said, the US was "profiting from this crisis," through selling arms and capitalizing on Europe's energy crisis.

Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing who was also one of the attendees of the symposium on Sunday, told the Global Times that he felt a strong sentiment of confidence and certainty through the review of China's diplomatic efforts. 

"Over the past year, the global situation has been facing many uncertainties and the world economy is struggling to recover but the Russia-Ukraine conflict added more uncertainties. Under such circumstance, China's overall diplomatic work has been advancing steadily and yielding more results, which was very encouraging," Diao said. 

When it comes to China-US relations, China has not been intimidated by any hegemonic power or its bullying and acted resolutely to safeguard China's core interests and national dignity. 

For instance, in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit?to the Taiwan region of China in disregard of China's stern warnings, we have taken?firm and resolute measures, which have strongly deterred anti-China elements in the US?and the "Taiwan independence" forces, and fully demonstrated our iron will in safeguarding national sovereignty and security.

"Major ideas of China's diplomacy include upholding the bottom line of national interests and pushing forward the joint security and joint development overseas as a major responsible country," Diao said. 

Looking forward 

In dealing with the relationship with other major countries, Chinese experts believed that China has been adopting a balanced approach. For instance, in 2023, China will deepen strategic mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Russia,?and?cement China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination while also following through on the common understandings?reached between the Chinese and US presidents, strive to recalibrate China-US relationship,?and bring it back on the right course.?

"Advancing China-Russia relationship does not mean that China-US ties would move backward, as when China pushes forward the major-country diplomacy, it's striking a balance," Li said, noting such approach does not imply that China-Russia relations are more important than China-US relations. 

China-US, China-Russia and China-EU relations are all important parts of China's major-country diplomacy, which need to be handled in a comprehensive manner with different focuses, experts said. The experts also believe that as China further optimizes its COVID epidemic measures and opens up in 2023, diplomatic events led by head-of-state diplomacy will embrace a new climax with many highlights to be expected. 

"What we know for now is that French President Emmanuel Macron is willing to visit China at the beginning of next year, which would also inspire more European leaders to visit China," Li said. 

Also, 2023 will mark the 10th anniversary of President Xi's proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. 

All parties are looking forward to the convening of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation where we can jointly take stock of?the achievements and draw up a blueprint to make this "belt of development"?that benefits the world and broaden this "road to happiness"?that benefits humanity, Wang said. 

Some experts also believe that as some routine international summits such as the G20 and APEC will take place in 2023, there will be more occasions for interaction between Chinese and foreign leaders, injecting new momentum for bilateral relations.