Chinese Foreign Policy – Developing CNP

Chinese policy analysts claimed that China’s rising strength was intended to improve political trust between the people and with foreign forces through joint military exercises and exchange. Citing historical proof, Qian Lihua, Deputy Director of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office told in an interview to China Central Television that China has a defensive policy and will not be part of any military bloc. Throughout its history, he stated that China had not stationed any military force overseas and thus there was no threat arising from Chinese military build up as indicated from time to time by the United States. He cited the proof of 23 US military delegations, which had visited China in 2006 and 18 delegations that China had sent to the United States during the Year. The Exercises conducted by China with the United States Navy in November were also cited as a major confidence building measure.

The Chinese have provided a new elucidation of their foreign policy calling it, “harmonious world-oriented” diplomacy. A noted Chinese scholar Yan Xuetong, director general of the Institute of International Studies of prestigious Tsingha University in Beijing in an article in the peoplesdailyonline web site indicated that this policy had been set into motion by President Hu Jintao in October 2005.The underpinnings of this new policy however are curiously denoted by the rise of Chinese economic and trade power, with a surfeit of foreign reserves, the largest in the World, and China’s preeminent position in global trade in 2004. The deficiencies envisaged were in the military and the political field.

Chinese initiatives in Africa starting with the Beijing Summit & Third Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) have indicated a desire to make up for the political deficiencies with aid and humanitarian assistance. China is already a major player in many African countries including Sudan where it is reportedly stalling deployment of UN troops in the troubled Darfur region.

Closer home, China held the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit for building long-term relationship with an axis of states extending into Central Asia while it has firmed up its relationship with the ASEAN states through the China-ASEAN Memorial Summit in November 2006. Both these events were covered in the Security Trends Issue of November and October 2006. China considers itself as the chief enabler of the six-nation dialogue with North Korea and has egged on the Japanese for a rapprochement set into motion by the visit of the new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first in the last five years. The visit of President Hu Jintao to Vietnam, Laos, India and Pakistan during November marked another landmark to firstly foster strategic relationship with old rivals and cement that with old friends as Pakistan.

China has built special relationship with Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest most prosperous and perhaps only stable country. The two states have reportedly signed 11 cooperation agreements in the field of trade, energy, science and technology, culture and education. These were signed during the visit of the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to China during the month. A 13 page document on China-Kazakhstan Cooperation Strategy for the 21st Century was also released in which bilateral cooperation in politics, economy, international relations, security, culture and other fields has been highlighted. China is also steadily building a counter terrorism partnership with Kazakhstan given its proximity to the Xingjian province, China’s key trouble spot with Islamic fundamentalist strains. Energy is the other pillar of China-Kazakhstan partnership.

The United States – China relationship is also said to be based on a sound understanding of the nuances of each side’s sensitivities. Leadership contact, agreement on various international issues, mechanisms for continuing cooperation and dialogue, military exchanges and maneuvers form the key to improvement in relations between the two states. On the other hand, it is stated that key differences on Chinese involvement in Africa, Sudan and Venezuela remain along with apprehensions on trade deficit and currency disparity. Yuan Peng, deputy director and researcher at the Division for North and Latin American Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations has also expressed concern of the shift in US Congress where the Democratic Party has won a majority. This is felt to have an unfavorable impact on Sino US dialogue punctuating it with allegations of human rights abuse. Chinese establishment has not viewed this development favorably.

This holistic relationship being developed by the Chinese corresponds to their view of developing a comprehensive national power in which diplomacy is a major component.

Rahul K Bhonsle
Rahul K. Bhonsle is a Strategic Risk and Knowledge Management Consultant and writer with specific focus on defence and security, especially in South Asia.