Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a symposium of foreign affairs in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 24, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
Nation has network of agreements with 67 countries and five regions
As China has forged partnerships with more than 60 countries around the world, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing’s vision for a global partnership network has “basically taken shape”.
In recent years, the word “partnership” has come up as a catchphrase in news releases prepared for Chinese leaders’ trips abroad. Announcements of China “establishing” or “upgrading” partnerships intrigue policymakers and researchers worldwide.
But China’s goal in shaping a global partnership network is not to forge another NATO or, like Washington, to boost hegemony through international alignments, experts said.
The network concept was first officially proposed by President Xi Jinping at a Party conference in late November that focused on foreign policy. Although Xi did not elaborate at the time, he said that “sticking to the nonalignment principle” requires the country to make a wide range of friends.
Wang raised the subject at a foreign policy seminar in Beijing on Dec 24, and for the first time gave a detailed explanation of the concept.
Since the end of Cold War－a symbol of alignment and confrontation in international relations－China has explored new ways of “seeking companions without building alliances”, Wang said.
“Up to now, our country has established 72 partnerships, of varying forms and degrees, with 67 countries and five regions or regional organizations,” Wang said at the policy seminar co-hosted by the China Institute of International Studies and the China Foundation for International Studies.
Beijing’s partnerships have covered most major countries and important regions in the world, Wang said, adding that the network concept was proposed to serve as a refined “summary” of China’s success over the past two decades.
The network will grant Beijing the ability to plan and build with “greater strategic vision and global scope”, he said.
Jia Xiudong, a researcher at the institute, said China’s partnerships “pursue mutual benefits and win-win cooperation”, a fundamentally different approach from Washington’s de facto global network of allies, which features obedience and alignment.
“Beijing’s partnerships also focus on inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness,” Jia said. “And the global partners have been involved in sharing the dividend released by China’s economic growth.”
A key to expanding the partnership network is frequent travel by Chinese leaders and rigorous diplomatic schedules.
In the past two years, President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang have taken 17 trips abroad. They’ve left their footprints on five continents and in more than 50 countries, Wang said.
Earlier this month, during a visit to Serbia that included meetings with his counterpart, Li expressed hope for “pushing the China-Serbia strategic partnership to higher ground”.
Xi and Li have “met nearly 500 times with foreign heads of state and top governmental figures”, Wang estimated.
The increasing number of partners is a measure of “China’s expanding common ground, which it shares with the world” and has nothing to do with any alleged targeting of third parties, according to Jia, the researcher.