Recently in China Category

Why is China Turnings Its Focus Westward?

Minghao Zhao, an adjunct fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Peking University, reports that, “The growing bloodshed in Iraq and Syria is being watched as keenly in China as anywhere else in the world. Indeed, the greater Middle East is becoming an ever greater focus of Chinese foreign policy,”  The executive editor of China International Strategy Review writes in a June 20, 2014, opinion post in The Japan Times. He noted:

At the just-concluded sixth ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, held in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping called upon his Arab counterparts to upgrade their strategic relationships with China, by deepening bilateral cooperation in areas ranging from finance and energy to space technology.

Minghao Zhao said, “This reflects China’s broader goal — established partly in response to America’s “pivot” toward Asia — of rebalancing its strategic focus westward, with an emphasis on the Arab world.”

For more of Minghao Zhao perspective on why China is turning its focus westward, please see “China turning its attention to the Middle East.”

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The Difficult Part of Modern Diplomacy

China’s Global Times has an informative interview with Chen Jian, China’s former ambassador to Japan and former under-secretary-general of the United Nations, The interview took place at the World Peace Forum 2013 in late June and was published on July 14, 2013.

Mr. Chen Jian “oversees the Department of Outward Investment and International Cooperation.”

Here’s what he had to say about China’s diplomatic image:

Q: There are two opposing views of China's diplomatic image. The international community says China's diplomacy is becoming aggressive, but Chinese people always criticize China's diplomatic moves as being weak and disadvantaged. How do you see such contradictory comments?

Chen: This is truly the most difficult part of modern diplomacy, and this problem exists in almost every country.

It is mainly caused by two reasons. On the one hand, the development of an information-based community has given ordinary people access to massive amounts of information. On the other, the deepening of globalization has closely interconnected the national interests of most countries.

Few diplomatic policies can meet with approval from both the inside and outside, no matter what country you are in. Easy access to information has tremendously increased public involvement in international affairs, fueling the rise of nationalism. A tough stand to protect their own national interests is usually what they expect from their governments. But if all countries resort to such an aggressive policy, then the job of the foreign affairs ministry could be taken over by the national defense ministry.

To some extent, those expectations for "toughness" are misleading ordinary people into a wrong view of diplomacy. By its very nature, diplomacy is about "compromise." As long as the "compromise" can be made within a cooperative and reciprocal framework and thus the national interests and other countries' interests can be balanced, diplomacy will help address international issues in a peaceful way.

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