Diplomat stresses Sino-U.S. ties; India not mentioned

China’s new State Councillor and top diplomat Yang Jiechi has said that the new leadership under Xi Jinping would emphasise building a new model of relations with the United States and consolidating ties with the country’s neighbours as it looks to carve out its diplomatic priorities in the coming decade.

In his first detailed comments after taking over as the top foreign policy official earlier this year, Mr. Yang, in an article published this week by the Communist Party’s official magazine “Qiushi”, pointed to Mr. Xi’s trip to the United States and recent visits by leaders from South Korea, Pakistan and Vietnam to Beijing as reflecting the new direction of the country’s foreign policy priorities.

Regarding disputes with neighbours, Mr. Yang said China would act firmly in disputes with Japan over the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands and also with several countries in the South China Sea “to uphold our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests while working hard to appropriately handle and resolve the disputes with the neighbouring countries through dialogue and negotiation". China, he added, had also reached out to countries in the region in an attempt to address the tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The boundary dispute with India was, however, not discussed by Mr. Yang. Interestingly, India did not find any mention in the 3,600-word essay, which attempted to outline China’s diplomatic priorities and challenges under the new leadership.

The new Chinese Premier and second-ranked leader Li Keqiang chose New Delhi as his first destination after taking office as he embarked on a four-nation tour in May. But analysts in Beijing say the initial momentum that characterised the new leadership’s outreach towards India has appeared to fizzle out in the months since amid renewed border strains, particularly following the April Depsang stand-off.

Mr. Yang in the article revealed that in the four months since the new Xi Jinping administration took over, Chinese leaders had already met “more than 100 foreign heads of state and leaders”.

Notwithstanding the increasing tensions with Japan, he said relations with neighbours were “on the whole, moving towards a more favourable direction”. China has appeared, in recent months, keen to defuse tensions in the South China Sea, which have somewhat eased since 2012.

“In growing relations with our neighbours and other developing countries that have long been friendly towards China yet face daunting challenges in development, we will accommodate their interests rather than seeking benefits at their expense or shifting troubles unto them,” Mr. Yang said.

Mr. Yang’s essay also left little doubt that China sees relations with the United States as perhaps its single biggest priority. The new leadership would emphasise “putting forth the vision of building a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States”, as suggested by the June Sunnylands summit meeting between Mr. Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama in California.

This “new model”, he said, would included “non-conflict and non-confrontation" which “requires the two sides to view each other’s strategic intention in an objective and sensible way, stay as partners instead of adversaries, and properly handle their differences and disputes through dialogue and cooperation instead of taking a confrontational approach.”

Both countries, he added, had pledged to “abandon the zero-sum mentality, accommodate the other’s interests while seeking one’s own, promote common development while developing oneself, and continue to deepen the pattern of shared interests”.

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Printable version | May 2, 2021 7:43:38 PM |

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