Xi’s new diplomatic overture impresses

By Bilal Sabri (13 March 2019) – China keeps awing the world under President Xi Jinping’s leadership. Its surprising economic rise, booming industrialization and willingness to share fruits of its development with other countries and regions are captivating the world.

There are many dimensions to China’s peaceful rise in the global arena but the biggest feast Beijing can claim is the success of its diplomacy. Xi has added a new dimension to Chinese diplomacy by emphasizing shared development. 

Pakistani experts believe that China, in the backdrop of a fast changing world, is offering Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a major diplomatic and development initiative. 

Pakistan is the biggest recipient of BRI support as China has invested almost $20 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The actual estimate of Chinese investments is $46 billion. The first phase of the CPEC is almost complete and the second stage is set to begin. 

But Pakistan is not the sole beneficiary of the BRI. Thanks to the initiative East Africa now has its first expressway. The Maldives has built its first bridge joining two islands. Belarus is able to produce sedans. Kazakhstan is connected to the sea. Southeast Asia is building high-speed railway. And Eurasia is benefiting from a long-distance freight train service.

The BRI has brought countries and regions together through enhanced trade, infrastructure development, investment, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. 

A total of 152 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation deals with China on the initiative over the past six years, official statistics show.

In April, Xi will host foreign heads of state and government at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. 

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, a Pakistani expert on China, says that the BRI is the most important diplomatic and developmental initiative of the 21st century. “The popularity of the BRI stems from the fact that it is inclusive, based on win-win cooperation, with no losers or victors, and promotes connectivity through corridors of commerce and trade,” he added. Mushahid, also chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, says China’s foreign policy model is based on Xi Jinping Thought. Xi Jinping Thought was formally enshrined as the principal guideline of China’s foreign policy during the June 2018 Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs in Beijing. At the conference, Xi told Chinese foreign policy establishment to “have a clear understanding of China’s status and role in the evolving world pattern.” 

Mushahid believes that this new peaceful model of Chinese diplomacy contrasts with the diplomatic model of the US or other Western countries which are building barriers to trade, communication and connectivity. 

“The balance of economic and political power is shifting from the West to East, with the 21st Century viewed as the ‘Asian Century,'” he said, adding that China as the world’s second-largest economy is the biggest proponent of globalization, fuelling 30 percent of global growth.

China is holding its annual two sessions, on the sidelines of which Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to foreign journalists to outline major policy decisions.  “China’s diplomacy has reached a new starting point,” Wang said. 

I believe Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy aims at developing a new path of state-to-state relations featuring dialogue instead of confrontation; partnership instead of alliance; and development instead of destruction. A centerpiece of the thought is to build a community with a shared future for humanity. This vision has won broad support. 

In the Government Work Report, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reiterated China’s stance on peaceful development, saying that China is ready to participate in reforming and improving the global governance system, and to join other countries in making fresh contributions to promoting lasting peace and common development across the world.

China is following a wise path of development as its leadership continues to stick to a peaceful development course, upholding the existing international system, favoring cooperation over confrontation while shouldering more responsibility, as the country moves closer to the world center stage. 

This is in line with the vision of Xi who once said, “More than 7 billion people inhabit the planet Earth. We in the same boat should keep watch and help each other to achieve common development.” 

The author is Beijing correspondent of Pakistan Today. [email protected]

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