Over the past 30 years, China's national strength, influence and international position have all increased, while the international environment has changed substantially. The shifting international environment forced Chinese leaders to evaluate and revise diplomatic policy, with positive results. Now, Chinese diplomacy is a powerful force on the international arena.
China's basic diplomatic policy and principles
In the years after China adopted its reform and opening-up policy in 1978, the international situation changed a lot, but certain complications remained. This presented China with both precious opportunities and tough challenges. Based on the changing international situation and the demands of domestic development, Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao adjusted the diplomatic policies formulated by Chairman Mao Zedong in the 1950s. They made a series of proposals that guided China's diplomacy to success.
After analyzing the international situation and the major powers, Deng forecast that there would be no world war within the coming decades. He argued that China should use the peaceful decades to develop itself, an observation that set China on its future course.
Deng also concluded that peace and development are the two dominant themes of the modern world. Moreover, he stressed, the two are inextricably linked: Peace cannot exist without development, and development cannot be realized without peace. Peace is the most important precondition of human existence and development.
These conclusions not only shifted the country's internal focus from interclass struggle to economic development, but also formed a solid basis for adjusting existing diplomatic policy and setting new guidelines.
In the early 1990s, the international situation underwent seismic changes as the Soviet Union fell apart and Eastern European countries abandoned their socialist stance. The United States took the opportunity to impose strict sanctions on China in the hope that socialism there would similarly weaken. But China withstood the high pressure and achieved great progress through opening up. The Western countries soon had to repair their relations with China.
Maintaining state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity are the core interests and common wishes of the Chinese people. Based on the policy of "one country, two systems" that Deng originally proposed in the 1980s, Hong Kong and Macao returned to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively. In 1979, China declared that its strategy in dealing with the Taiwan question was peaceful reunification. The Central Government later adjusted the policy to "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems," which reflected changes in their guidelines and thinking. China never hesitates on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The 1997 Asian financial crisis threw many economies in the region into a tailspin. The international financial system felt the impact as well. Although China was relatively unaffected, Chinese leaders urged the Asian continent to cross the river of the financial crisis on the same boat, and refused to depreciate the renminbi under pressure. China greatly stabilized the international financial market through this measure, while also trying its best to supply capital to countries in trouble. Its responsible behavior received worldwide recognition.
China responded quickly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, and since then has supported and coordinated with other countries in the international war on terror. China has been working with related countries to promote nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. It has made great contributions to the peaceful solution of the nuclear issues in North Korea and Iran. Nowadays, both traditional and non-traditional security threats seriously jeopardize human existence. China has proposed a new security concept based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, a concept that suggests resolving regional and global security issues by strengthening international cooperation. This concept has been widely praised in the world.
Before entering the 21st century, China summed up all the experiences and lessons of the century before. It asked the question, what kind of world should we bring into the new century? In the meantime, it strengthened relations with many countries in the world. For example, China has established strategic relationships with Russia, the European Union (EU), Japan, Pakistan, India and Brazil, and developed active relations with the United States as an international stakeholder. These relationships encourage concerned parties to view bilateral ties from a long-term, strategic perspective, thus promoting lasting and stable relationships between China and major countries in the world.