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03/21/2023

New winds are blowing from China

New winds are blowing from China

On March 7, during a press conference held within the framework of the first session of the XIV National People’s Congress in Beijing, the recently appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang stated: “If the United States does not step on the brakes and instead, keeps accelerating down the wrong path, there will be no barrier that can prevent derailment, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation.” He added that the US power’s policy towards China had completely deviated from the “rational and sensible path”.

This language, far from the Chinese diplomatic tradition based on restraint and self-control, is an expression of changes that are manifested not only in rhetoric and discourse, but also especially in practice and proposal. At some point, Deng Xiaoping stated that Chinese diplomacy should be characterized by “hiding strength and biding its time.” Clearly that is in the past. The months that have elapsed since 2023 have witnessed not only a transformation of rhetoric, but also an intense diplomatic activity on the part of China, which seems to want to occupy its true place in the international system as a leading actor and protagonist of the transformation process that is clearly beginning.

Qin Gang, who turns 57 on March 19, is part of a new generation, he was 10 years old when Mao Zedong and Chou Enlai died and 12 when the Reform and Opening policy began in 1978. He is completely foreign to that time. He entered the Foreign Service at the age of 26, and was 46 when Xi Jinping was elected as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China for the first time in 2012. At the time, he was deputy director general of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In just 12 years he rose to the highest responsibility of his country’s chancellery.

This new generation, characterized by sustaining intense activity on social networks, does not allow any affront to their country, responding harshly in each case, while making their proposals and projects known in all corners of the earth. With a language in which sarcasm, irony and mockery are spared, the new Chinese diplomacy has been baptized as “Wolf Warriors” by the transnational media of Western communication. The name refers to the members of the Chinese Special Forces who successfully confronted American mercenaries in a television series that with that name paralyzed the country for two seasons in 2015 and 2017.

Regarding China’s relations with Russia, a cardinal aspect of his country’s foreign policy at the present time, Qin Gang said that with both “working together, the world will have the driving force to multipolarity and democracy in international relations and the global strategic balancewill be better guaranteed”, thus making a precise and strategic statement of the ties between the two countries. It cannot be overlooked that in this definition, in a single paragraph, the new Chinese foreign minister has externalized three categories that define the future scope of Chinese diplomacy: multipolarity, democracy and global strategic balance.

For those who might have doubts regarding the new orientation of Chinese diplomacy, it was President Xi Jinping himself who, the day before, March 6, in his speech during the first session of the XIV National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, commissioned to draw the course that the country will adopt for the coming years, after diagnosing: “The external conditions for China’s development have changed drastically, with a significant increase in uncertain and unpredictable factors, above all because Western countries, led by the United States have subjected our country to total containment, siege and repression, posing unprecedented and grave challenges to our development.”

Xi established that given the created situation, China should modernize its army and turn it into a “Great Wall of Steel.” In addition, he insisted that the country must achieve technological self-sufficiency. All of this is framed within a major government restructuring that will have a profound influence on the country’s economy and society. For this, progress will also be made in an intense reform of the financial system.

In the same way, Xi announced that the structural transformation plan to face the new times includes the reform of various organs of the Communist Party and the government. This reform, which seeks to strengthen the leadership of the party, will involve its local and central institutions, the National People’s Congress, the State Council and the cabinet, as well as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s highest advisory body.

As an expression of this trend, in the framework of foreign policy, in February, China unveiled a “Global Security Initiative” with the aim of eliminating the root causes of international conflicts, improving planetary security governance, stimulating efforts joint international agreements that guarantee greater stability and certainty, and promote lasting peace and development throughout the world.

The proposal is based on six principles: maintain the commitment to the vision of a common, global, cooperative and sustainable security; respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; respect the objectives and principles of the UN charter; take seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries; resolve disputes between nations peacefully through dialogue and, finally, preserve security in traditional and non-traditional arenas.

Not only changes in speech and rhetoric have begun to take place in China this year. The appointment of the new Foreign Minister on December 30 and the launch of the “Global Security Initiative” proposal in February have been accompanied by a clear intention to start playing a much more relevant role on the international scene.

In this area, in recent days, it has been announced that, with the mediation of China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran have decided to establish diplomatic relations, thereby influencing a radical change in the regional political scenario and even the global. This step has dealt a heavy blow to the US domination scheme in that region whose axis is the support of the Zionist State as a launching pad for imperial policy in the area for which Washington intended to create strong alliances of Zionism with some countries Arabs and Muslims, all of which have received a severe blow gestated from the silent and patient Chinese diplomacy.

This fact will significantly reduce the possibility of an armed conflict between these regional rivals, either in direct or indirect confrontations, which could affect the creation of conditions that favor a political agreement that stops and puts an end to the prolonged war in Yemen, as some West Asian capitals have begun to speculate.

In another sphere, but also as an expression of China’s great diplomatic effort in favor of world peace, a few weeks ago a 12-point proposal prepared by Beijing was released to end the conflict in Ukraine through negotiation and dialogue. For this reason, President Xi will pay a visit to Moscow where he will meet with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin, after which he will hold a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodimir Zelensky.

In this way, while stormy winds are blowing from Washington and Brussels, Beijing is making efforts to without lowering its guard. While rejecting imperial attacks, China works to reduce tensions and make a real and significant contribution to peace and the development of the planet.

Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
A Venezuelan international relations expert, Gelfenstein was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. He has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant”, published in several Latin American countries. You can follow him on Twitter: @sergioro0701

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