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UPDATED: November 4, 2013 NO. 45 NOVEMBER 7, 2013
Good Neighborly Network
China's leaders make an unprecedented outreach to neighbors
By Yu Lintao

NORTHERLY NEIGHBOR: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (front right) and visiting Mongolian Prime Minister Noroviin Altanhuyag ( left) in Beijing on October 25 (YAO DAWEI)

Professor Ren Xiao from the Institute of International Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University claimed that these changes require China to readjust its policies to keep pace with the times.

China should understand the concerns and desires of its neighboring countries as the domestic and regional environment evolves, said Ren.

China's current neighboring policy is generally believed to have formed at the beginning of the 21st century when its international status was not that prominent in the world. However, after a decade of rapid economic expansion, the comprehensive strength of China has been enhanced. Especially since the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, the international political and economic order is being reshaped gradually with the center of world power shifting from the West to the Asia-Pacific. In 2010, Washington announced its "pivot to Asia" strategy around the same time that China surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest economy. A more prominent China is different from the past in the eyes of its neighbors— words and actions can be easily exaggerated or interpreted as a "threat," which observers said is one of the "growing pains" of China.

In addition, along with the deepening of contacts between China and its neighbors, conflicts of interest between them are also on the rise. At the diplomatic work conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping also noted that there had been lots of changes in relations between China and its neighbors.

"Our economic and trade links are closer, with unprecedented interactive exchanges. The situation requires us to keep pace with the times and be more active in blueprinting diplomatic strategy and undertaking diplomatic work," said President Xi.

Professor Ren said that China, which is larger than any of its neighboring countries except Russia and rising at a rapid rate, is understandably being met with mixed feelings on the part of its neighbors—such as apprehension and mistrust.

Therefore, more positive diplomatic activities between China and its neighbors are needed to address those sentiments. Enhancing neighborhood diplomacy by integrating China's interests with those of its neighbors will greatly diminish the images of "China threat," he added.

President Qu of the CIIS claimed one positive side of the changing domestic and regional situation is that more neighbors are seeking to develop active bilateral ties with China.

He said that many neighbors have noted the benefits of cooperating with a rapidly rising China. Surrounding countries benefit from a burgeoning Chinese market while the latter gains more momentum from the common prosperity from its neighbors.

New mindset

Besides the intensive high-level exchange of visits between China and its neighbors, observers noticed that Chinese top leaders also raised several strategic approaches to developing ties with its neighbors, drawing a blueprint for regional common prosperity.

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