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LI BIN: Chinese diplomacy differs from Western model

| 2015-02-05 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Chinese diplomacy is different from Western countries’ diplomacy with its own characteristics and style. This is determined by China’s national property, cultural tradition and history over the past century.

First, national property determines the identity of a country in the international arena. China is a socialist country led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), which implements a socialist system with Chinese characteristics. Meanwhile, China is also a large developing country. These have formed the basis of Chinese diplomacy with its own features.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a creative combination of Marxism, Chinese cultural tradition and values, and the market economy. Chinese diplomacy with its own characteristics is neither a capitalist nor traditional Soviet-style socialist model. While practicing Chinese diplomacy, we must adhere to the leadership of the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, and adhere to China’s development path, social system, cultural tradition and values.

As a large socialist country, China’s diplomacy should enhance the world’s peace and development as well as international fairness and justice. In practice, we must adhere to the independent foreign policy of peace, democracy in international relations, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, principles that all countries are equal members of the international community, and people of all countries grasp the world’s destiny. China should safeguard international fairness and justice, while speaking for many developing countries.

In addition, China is a developing socialist country, which requires us to promote the development of our nation based on its own power. We should adhere to the path of peaceful development instead of the historical Western path of colonization and plundering weak nations. While fulfilling the above obligations, Chinese diplomacy must not surrender China’s legitimate rights nor sacrifice national core interests. This is the premise of ensuring China’s identity as a socialist country. It is also the basis of guaranteeing China fulfills its international obligations.

Chinese diplomacy is closely related to profound cultural tradition. China has never been an aggressive, brutal nation. Instead, it is a modest and inclusive nation. The Chinese have formed their unique style of addressing foreign relations, influenced by national cultural tradition. China’s tributary systems of past dynasties were characterized by politeness and humility instead of conquest and plunder, unlike the West that suppressed paganism and colonized in pursuit of wealth.

Additionally, China historically struggled against attacks and aggression from powerful foreign enemies, showing the gentle and soft character of the nation. This character reflected China’s non-aggressive and non-predatory cultural tradition, which has made the Chinese form the style of peace, coexistence and common prosperity in dealing with foreign affairs.

Chinese diplomacy is also related to the last century of historical events. In modern times (1840-1919), China suffered a lot from aggression and plunder of capitalist powers. Chinese people struggled indomitably to achieve the fundamental goal of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. This added new elements to Chinese foreign policy, namely pushing forward international fairness and justice, opposing intervention in domestic affairs, as well as the big and strong bullying the small and weak.

Chinese people regarded pushing forward international fairness and democracy as an important premise of China’s existence and development and indispensable condition for realizing national interests. This can obviously be reflected by China’s diplomatic practice after the victory of the new-democratic revolution (1919-49); initiating the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; maintaining world peace; supporting global decolonization movement; and even viewing world revolution and change of the international order as an important goal of Chinese diplomacy.

We may have regrets in reviewing history, but we can’t deny that in modern times, advocating and maintaining international fairness and justice became an important component of Chinese diplomacy and was consistent with the later great-power diplomatic concept.

China has gradually integrated into the world system since its reform and opening-up. However, faced with power politics and hegemony of Western countries and unfair rules in the international economic order, the Chinese will never give up pushing forward democratization and justice of the international political and economic order.

It is this unique identity, long cultural tradition and past century of historical experiences that have influenced China’s diplomatic practice and become the source of characteristics and style of Chinese diplomacy. China’s great-power diplomacy established in the new historical conditions is inevitably different from those serving narrow national interests. It can properly combine national interests with international fairness and justice, and adhere to the strategy of mutual benefit and win-win result.


Li Bin is a professor from the School of Government at Nanjing University.