Year of diplomatic responsibility and vision

2021-01-16 12:03:06

LI MIN/CHINA DAILY Despite 2020 being full of hardships and uncertainties, China continued making progress on several fronts and, in the process, safeguarding national interests, and helping the world fight the novel coronavirus pandemic and rejuvenate the global economy. On the domestic front, China's policies were focused on eradicating extreme poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects; while globally its diplomacy was aimed at helping build a community with a shared future for humankind. After the pandemic broke out, China made efforts to protect the interests of all countries, especially developing and less-developed ones, and promote a fairer global governance system. China's prompt and scientific methods to combat the epidemic helped it to largely contain the spread of the virus at home. As a result, many global organizations including the International Monetary Fund forecast that China is the only major economy likely to achieve positive GDP growth in 2020. Since meticulous planning and prudent use of domestic and imported resources played a key role in containing the virus and helping resume normal economic activities, China's leadership adopted a "dual circulation" development paradigm to maintain sustainable development. The paradigm is centered on "internal circulation" (domestic economy) and aims to integrate the domestic economy with the global economy ("external circulation") to develop new advantages for China in global competition and cooperation. Amid the pandemic-induced global recession, China has tried to boost domestic demand and further open up the economy to the outside world, by hosting major trade events including the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing in September and the 3rd China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. Needless to say, these global events have created lots of opportunities for other countries and facilitated mutual development. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Economic Outlook in December, global GDP, after falling 4.2 percent in 2020, will grow 4.2 percent in 2021 and China will account for more than one-third of the global economic growth. China also made contributions to the global fight against the pandemic in many other aspects. It has proposed to help build a global community of health for all based on the people-first and life-first principle. And on April 2, the Communist Party of China and more than 230 political parties from over 100 countries issued a joint open letter calling for closer international cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, during the General Debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, China announced that it would provide $50 million for the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID-19 and another $50 million for the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund. It also established a global joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19, dispatching 34 medical teams to 32 countries, and providing 283 batches of supplies for 150 countries and four international organizations. While President Xi Jinping, via video link, announced at the 73rd World Health Assembly that "China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries", the Chinese government has been sharing with the rest of the world China's experiences in the fight against the epidemic. More important, China has pledged to make its vaccines global public goods and supply them to developing countries on a priority basis apart from joining COVAX, a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. With the world struggling to cope with the pandemic's impact on the health sector and the global economy in 2020, China, under the leadership of the CPC, fought back stigmatization by issuing factual reports about COVID-19 through Chinese media outlets and helped the world better control and prevent the spread of the virus. In the face of innumerable challenges, China has continued to shoulder its international responsibilities as a major power by making efforts to improve the global governance system. At international meetings such as the 12th BRICS Summit, the 27th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and the G20 Summit, China opposed unilateralism and protectionism, and vowed to safeguard multilateralism and the existing world order. In particular, China signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement with the 10 member states of ASEAN, and Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand was a highlight of the country's achievements in promoting multilateralism, free trade and regional integration. Now, it is considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. In spite of being the target of baseless allegations vis-à-vis the pandemic, China's circle of friends expanded in 2020 because of its sincerity in keeping its promises and working with other countries for mutual development. In this regard, China continued talks with the European Union-with which it concluded the negotiations on the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment on Dec 30-and with Russia to boost mutual trust and the comprehensive strategic partnership. Moreover, China has pursued all-around and all-sector neighborhood diplomacy, by maintaining talks and improving cooperation with neighboring countries, and promoted China's friendly relations with other developing countries. This year is especially important for the world because all countries need to find ways to deal with the second wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths and the emergence of mutant strains of the virus. It is also important for China, not least because 2021 is the first year of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. China will continue to deepen policy coordination with other countries to boost the fight against COVID-19 and improve global governance. It will also find better ways of telling its story to the outside world to clear misunderstandings, and take measures to boost its soft power. And with US president-elect Joe Biden taking office on Jan 20, it will try to resume talks with the US and revitalize the Sino-US relationship that reached a historic low in 2020. The author is dean of the School of International Relations, Beijing International Studies University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.