The Khmer Times, 12 October 2016
Since assuming the top leadership position in 2012, President Xi Jinping has taken China to new heights in nation building, although his ambitious economic reforms fell short of producing the expected output.
He has significantly earned public trust in his anti-corruption campaign.
He has also remarkably strengthened his power base by reducing the decision-making authority of the Politburo and the State Council. It is predicted that his power will be further consolidated after the 19th Party Congress, which is going to take place next year.
Being tough on both domestic politics and foreign policy, he shows strong, decisive and visionary leadership. Some even call him “China’s most powerful leader in decades.”
Mr. Xi has crafted ambitious national development plans and adopted a more proactive foreign policy approach.
Concretizing national rejuvenation projects and strengthening China’s place in the world is his core mission.
To have an effective foreign policy, it depends very much on national conditions and strength. National interests define foreign policy objectives.
China’s top challenge now is how to maintain stability and attain high economic development that can generate employment opportunities for millions of graduates every year.
A stable and peaceful international environment and open and inclusive global economic and financial governance are therefore vital to China’s long-term development. So how does foreign policy serve these objectives?
“China will unswervingly take a peaceful path of development, maintain an international order with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter at the core, promote a new-type international relationship featuring cooperation and reciprocity and be committed to building a common destiny for mankind,” Mr. Xi said in April.
There are six precepts of Mr. Xi’s foreign policy doctrine.
First, realizing the Chinese Dream.
The Chinese Dream, a signature axiom of Mr. Xi, focuses on promoting collective effort and leadership to achieve “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” as well as to enable the realization of the personal dream of every Chinese to have a happy, healthy and productive life.
“The people can attain happiness only when their country and nation thrive. China will thrive only when the world prospers,” stated Mr. Xi in June 2014.
Second, pursuing “peaceful development” and “win-win cooperation.”
The fast-rising power of China has generated a sense of threat and strategic challenge for some countries that have conflicting interests or strategic competition with China.
Some countries are afraid that China will transform its economic leverage into a dominant political and strategic sphere of influence. An increasing number of countries are economically dependent on China for their economic survival and prosperity.
Moreover, some countries perceive China’s rising military power and assertive activities in the South China Sea as a threat to regional peace and stability.
To counter such a “China threat” perception, Beijing has developed and promoted the concept of “peaceful development,” which is defined as development with its own efforts and by continuously implementing reform and innovation.
China is pursuing an opening-up policy and is open to learn from other countries. It works with the international community to realize “a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity,” which it calls “a path of scientific, independent, open, peaceful, cooperative and common development.”
Third, developing “a new model of major-power relations” to avoid “Thucydides Trap” – structural clashes and confrontations between the rising power and the ruling power.
It aims to manage complex bilateral relations between China and the United States. China is interested in expanding dialogues, promoting mutual trust, expanding cooperation and controlling disputes.
Equal power relationship, a mutual respect of each other’s core national interests and mutual learning and adjustment should be the rules of engagement between the two major powers.
Fourth, building a “community of common destiny.”
Countries should respect one another and treat each other as equals. A big country needs to shoulder greater responsibilities for world peace and development.
Inclusiveness and mutual learning among civilizations are the foundations of mutual trust and confidence building.
Countries should seek win-win cooperation and common development, and work together to realize common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
Fifth, promoting good neighborhood diplomacy.
Close neighbors are better than distant relatives. Neighborhood diplomacy occupies the center stage of China’s diplomacy.
The “Belt and Road” initiative is the key strategy in China’s neighborhood diplomacy. It is believed to be the most important economic and cultural diplomacy and a strategic instrument to project China’s global power.
The initiative focuses on five cooperation areas including policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people ties.
The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund plays a critical role in mobilizing financial resources to implement the projects on the initiative.
Sixth, developing a new security concept underpinning “common security” and “comprehensive security.”
Common security means respecting and ensuring the security of each and every country and comprehensive security encompasses both traditional and non-traditional security.
Security needs to be universal, equal and inclusive.