During the seven-day period from December 14 to 20, 2014, Premier Li Keqiang flew 20,000 km across Eurasia, meeting with 22 national leaders and attending nearly 70 international conferences and other diplomatic activities. This breakneck pace amounted to an average of 10 events a day over that week. If each event took one hour, Li would have worked 10 hours every day.
Li often works at such a pace. As the premier of the world's second largest economy, his diligence highlights four diplomatic trends:
First of all, China has become more closely integrated with the world economy. Li's visits to foreign countries in 2014, including the latest three-nation tour, yielded business contracts worth a total of about $140 billion, furthering the connection of the Chinese economy with that of the rest of the world.
Also, China is playing an increasingly active role in international affairs. In 2014, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li paid visits to countries across the world, illustrating the country's willingness to engage in diplomatic activities and voice its opinions in the international community. Xi and Li have different focuses in international interactions. While Xi devotes more attention to strategic issues, Li focuses on economic exchanges. The premier has helped seal business contracts for Chinese firms to build energy, infrastructure and railway projects overseas. The two leaders have complemented each other in China's diplomacy and spearheaded the country's progress in international relations.
In addition, the recovery of the world economy still needs China's support. In the era following the global financial crisis, the world economy is recovering slowly, with most countries' economic picture remaining gloomy. However, the Chinese economy has continued to grow at a relatively high speed in spite of the slowdown compared with previous years. Against this backdrop, many countries hope to acquire financial support from China and warmly welcome visits by Chinese leaders.
More importantly, Li's busy schedule during his recent trip was evidence that China's efforts to reach out to the world have won global recognition. The outcomes of the trip, ranging from the adoption of roadmaps for overall cooperation to the signing of specific business deals, may well counter the claims of some foreign media outlets that China lacks close international connections.
In his characteristic fast tempo, Li stands ready to express China's wish for peaceful development and mutually beneficial partnerships. It is hoped that the premier's efforts will give a boost to world economic growth and that the Chinese economy could remain in high gear.