It has just been barely three months since China adjusted its COVID-19 policy and reopened its borders in January. Yet China’s remarkable diplomatic achievements are phenomenal under guidance of the principle of “a community with a shared future for mankind”. The recent success of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China and the rapprochement of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are two vivid examples. France has demonstrated its tradition of rich culture and an independent path of diplomacy.
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of China and France’s establishment of diplomatic relations. Back in 1964, France was the first Western nation that established formal diplomatic ties with China. France has been an advocate of multilateralism for decades, evidenced by its reluctance to serve the US hegemony like a “yes-man”. While supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, Macron met and talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin several times to seek a peaceful solution.
With Macron’s three-day state visit, France and China have unleashed an impetus for elevating their development. President Xi Jinping and Macron have agreed to fortify a high-level strategic partnership, and economic and cultural cooperation, as unveiled in a joint statement after their meeting. Marked by pomp and pageantry, this was the first state visit of a Western leader after China ended all anti-pandemic travel restrictions and the landmark annual session of the National People’s Congress in March. President Xi met Macron in two cities, with an official talk in Beijing and informal meeting in the southern city of Guangzhou, which was a rare move. The two leaders chatted and tasted Chinese tea in a Chinese garden in Guangzhou. It has momentous significance for Macron to visit Guangzhou — as Guangdong province has played a pivotal role in the strong trade ties between the two countries. As an economic powerhouse in southern China, Guangdong accounts for one-fifth of the total trade volume between China and France across many sectors, including nuclear power stations in Daya Bay and Taishan.
Meanwhile, business cooperation between the two countries was further boosted with many mega trade agreements signed en mass. Macron led a strong delegation of business leaders, including the CEOs of top French enterprises such as Airbus, to China. Among the business deals, China agreed to purchase 160 Airbus aircraft for $20 billion; and a second Airbus production line will be built in Tianjin. France will purchase 16 container vessels from China, including some powered by methanol and liquified natural gas, which will significantly reduce carbon emissions. Other trade agreements cover a wide array of the areas of nuclear and wind energy, agriculture, railway and environmental projects, etc.
As China and France have a strong cultural heritage, presidents Xi and Macron vowed to strengthen cultural exchanges, including a joint exhibition between Beijing’s Palace Museum and Paris’s Chateau de Versailles — which will be staged from April to June next year.
Above all, China and France has epitomized the strengthening of mutual trust and the intention to further their comprehensive strategic partnership in the joint statement. Both countries have made a consensus in resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict through political means and negotiation based on international laws and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Clearly, Washington still clings to the old-fashioned Cold War mentality and has dragged Europe into the Russia-Ukraine conflict, stepping up antagonism against Russia. As stressed by Macron in an interview during his China trip, Europe must resist pressure to become America’s followers. Macron noted that the great risk Europe faces is getting “caught up in crises that are not ours”, which prevents Europe from building its strategic autonomy. Europe should have strategic autonomy and stand its ground in handling global issues, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its relations with China. Peace talk is the viable option for resolving conflicts on the global stage.
In the recent mediation of Saudi-Iranian diplomatic ties, China demonstrated its high-level diplomatic skills and its commitment to world peace, as well as its influence as a major country. Saudi Arabia and Iran had been at loggerheads for decades. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia escalated in 2016 following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric over “terror-related offenses”. The incident triggered violence by Iranian protesters at the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and Saudi subsequently severed diplomatic ties with Iran. Mediated by China, the two countries are now in rapprochement after seven years of a diplomatic deadlock. In early March, Saudi and Iranian representatives joined Beijing-hosted talks for four days — after President Xi’s trip to Saudi Arabia in December, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to China this February. The three parties signed an agreement in Beijing on committing Iran and Saudi Arabia to reopening the embassies while resuming talks on security, trade, investment and culture.
China has proved its call for global peace is not empty talk — unlike the US, which has ramped up conflicts and confrontation in the Middle East. While developing its hegemony playbook, the US has been the facilitator of most conflicts in the world, in particular the Middle East. A severe escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tension was triggered when then-US president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv in 2017.
Over the years, China has pursued an independent foreign policy of peace. It acts to be an unwavering supporter to foster world peace and help countries to garner peace, stability and development. Against the US-led hegemony, the world order is shifting gradually. China’s vision of “a community with a shared future for mankind” is a clarion call for solidarity and global cooperation, and our country will continue to serve as a conflict mediator and peacemaker on the world stage.
The author is a member of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and founder and chairman of the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum.
The original article was published in China Daily (Apr 18, 2023).