It was attended by the entire top leadership of China: members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi, as well as Vice-President Han Zheng. It was a general gathering of all those in charge of foreign policy. Members of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee, members of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee, officials of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, members of the State Council, the Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, the Prosecutor General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and leaders of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference attended the meeting. Members of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CCP Central Committee, officials of relevant departments of provinces, autonomous regions, central-level cities and towns, as well as Chinese ambassadors, consuls general with the rank of ambassador, representatives of international organizations, etc., also attended the meeting. All this shows how much importance China attaches to foreign policy and ensuring favorable external conditions for the country’s development and global peace.
Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CCP Central Committee, President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, addressed the meeting with a keynote speech. According to Xinhua, he «presented a systematic review of the historic achievements and valuable experience of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, gave a profound exposition on the international environment and historical mission of China’s external work on the new journey, and made comprehensive plans for China’s external work for the present and coming periods». Of course, all the details are not disclosed to the general public, but the most important things were publicized.
In fact, it was a summation of the work for a decade, during which the PRC under Xi Jinping’s leadership conceptually restructured its foreign policy and diplomacy. The essence of this restructuring seems to be a shift from a neutral and cautious style of work to a more active and offensive one, from the diplomacy of a third-world country to the diplomacy of a superpower responsible for the fate of the entire world. It is also a period of putting forward conceptual foreign policy programs and shaping the PRC’s foreign policy philosophy based on non-violence, consideration of opinions, consultation, and seeking mutual understanding.
The meeting confirmed that China’s relations with the world will continue to be based on Xi Jinping’s ideas of diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, the idea of a community of common destiny, and the idea of global security, including through China’s global initiatives such as the Belt and Road Program, which will be continued.
According to Xi Jinping, China will continue to build an extensive network of partnerships to ensure stable development based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. China will also continue to «take an increasingly active role in global governance and play a leading role in reforming the international system and world order». All this will be done on the basis of strengthening the unified and centralized leadership of the CCP Central Committee in foreign policy and deepening the coordination of the work of all participants.
Some of the main conceptual points were interpreted by Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee, head of the Foreign Affairs Office of the CCP Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs. For example: “Between cooperation and confrontation, we unwaveringly choose cooperation. Relations between major powers affect the stability of the world order, and China has always believed that major powers should have high aspirations and bear great responsibility».
«We firmly oppose hegemonism and the politics of brute force, and the monopoly of minority countries in international affairs», Wang Yi said. According to the meeting, China is in favor of «an equal and orderly multipolar world in which all countries, big and small, are equal, hegemonism and power politics are rejected, and democracy is truly promoted in international relations».
To achieve China’s foreign policy goals and vision, the country will focus on some key areas, in particular, the development of international mechanisms alternative to Western-oriented structures, i.e. further strengthening and expansion of BRICS and SCO, «increasing the representation and voice of developing countries in the system of global governance». Russia is not the last place here. «We continue to deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperation between China and Russia, promote the development and revitalization of our countries, support the world’s movement towards multipolarity and promote the democratization of international relations», Wang Yi stressed. One cannot help but notice that these views coincide here.
Another direction is to abolish unilateral sanctions and abandon protectionism and trade barriers. «We will always adhere to the principles of justice and impartiality, advocate building an equitable and orderly multipolar world, implement true multilateralism and promote the democratization of international relations», Wang Yi said.
Chinese diplomacy is expected to be particularly active in the field of international conflict resolution. As Wang Yi said, China intends to «comprehensively ensure justice and impartiality in global security, actively promote reconciliation, and play a constructive role in resolving global and regional hotspots such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Ukraine crisis».
What are the specific world events that will attract the special attention of Chinese diplomacy? First of all, it is the election in Taiwan on January 13 this year, on which much depends on the realization of the idea of peaceful return of the island «to the bosom of the motherland». It is also the U.S. presidential election in November, which may determine the vector of development of Sino-U.S. relations for the upcoming presidential term.
To a certain extent, the state of China-EU relations, which have not yet reached the level of the reset between China and the United States, depends on the elections to the European Parliament in June. Beijing will also keep a close eye on the spring general elections in India, with which relations remain difficult despite Beijing’s efforts.
It can also be assumed that PRC representatives, including President Xi Jinping, will actively participate in international forums, including the G-20 summit, ASEAN, BRICS, SCO and others. Xi Jinping is free from any electoral events in his country and can pay attention to the international agenda.