China’s proven commitment to peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity
Some capitals of the world are still in a state of shock as they are unable to comprehend fully the stunning diplomatic coup by China that worked silently but sincerely to mediate successfully between the two erstwhile staunch rivals – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Iran. Under the Chinese-brokered deal, the two countries agreed to resume their diplomatic ties after seven years and vowed to work towards resolving their disagreements on a set of international rules and two bilateral agreements signed in 1998 and 2001. Diplomatic circles also point out that Chinese mediation also helped navigate a longstanding dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Yemen. This sudden development speaks volumes about peace credentials of China, Beijing’s greater focus on conflict resolution and its growing footprints on the global landscape – areas that were previously considered an exclusive domain of the United States and its powerful allies.
The uneasiness of some Western countries over what they consider as Beijing’s first exercise of diplomatic leadership in the region is understandable as they have been spearheading a campaign to malign China on the pretexts of human rights and trade practices but its successful mediation to bring the two arch rivals closer just for the sake of regional and global peace and security is yet another jewel in the crown of Xi Jinping-led China that is marching steadily to become an economic superpower.
President Xi Jinping’s track record shows he doesn’t believe in just scoring diplomatic successes but is a firm believer of rule-based international order, which focuses on peaceful co-existence and shared prosperity. The gigantic initiative of ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) and Chinese Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are living examples of Beijing’s commitment to the cause of progress and prosperity. While OBOR is an ambitious project that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among over one hundred countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, AIIB aims to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond. As against other lending agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that are often used to advance American foreign policy interests, the AIIB, established just in 2016 is governed on professional lines by its 105 members and its priorities include projects for roads, rail, ports, energy pipelines and telecoms across Central Asia and maritime routes in South East and South Asia and the Middle East.
Under the framework of OBOR or BRI, widely considered as Xi’s signature foreign policy undertaking, Chinese banks and companies seek to fund and build roads, power plants, ports, railways, 5G networks, and fiber-optic cables around the world. BRI is now a truly global endeavor: thirty-nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa have joined the initiative, as well as thirty-four in Europe and Central Asia, twenty-five in East Asia and the Pacific, eighteen in Latin America and the Caribbean, seventeen in the Middle East and North Africa, and six in South Asia. Together with the fast expanding operations and activities of the AIIB, OBOR is a true manifestation of growing Chinese influence in different regions of the globe involving 139 countries. However, China has no ulterior motives in bring about half of the globe into a network of cooperative endeavours as the objective is sharing fruits of economic development and resolving chronic connectivity and other problems hindering national growth in many countries. As against the US and some other countries, whose assistance is invariably linked to advancement of their military objectives or exploitation of local resources, China is making economic investment, thereby sending pleasant gestures of a soft power. This is also in sharp contrast to the policy pursued by some Western countries that use economic aid as one of the tools of arms-twisting to force weaker nations to toe their lines in furtherance of their regional and international agendas. Strategists point out that under the framework of OBOR, China has diversified its economic and political relations; has established trading routes with access to harbours and trading hotspots all over the world and created a new framework under which Chinese companies can access and develop new markets.
The resounding success of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an extension of the OBOR, has sent loud and clear message to the third world countries that they can accelerate the pace of their socio-economic development by joining the initiative. It is known to all that despite many odds, internal hiccups and external conspiracies, CPEC is moving ahead successfully in Pakistan, contributing hugely to its socio-economic progress. It was because of energy projects completed under early harvest programme of the CPEC that Pakistan today has sufficient installed capacity to meet its electricity requirements while modernization of ports, airports and construction of motorways and highways is linking different regions of the country together. It is because of the highly beneficial impact of the completed projects on the national economy that Pakistan showed keen interest in expansion and diversification of cooperation under the framework of CPEC and now deals have been struck for modernization of agriculture and upgradation of railway infrastructure in the country.
China’s peace and progress diplomacy is also highlighted by the role that it plays in efforts to find a last solution of the Afghan conflict. It supports all endeavours aimed at peaceful resolution of the crisis and Beijing also demonstrated its sincerity for security and welfare of Afghan people by its leading role in provision of much needed economic assistance in the aftermath of American withdrawal from that country.
President Xi Jinping is, in fact, architect of modern China and his policies are instrumental in boosting Beijing’s image as friendly power at the global level. It was in this backdrop that in its annual session, the National Peoples Congress (NPC) confirmed Xi as President for a precedent-breaking third term besides approving a number of his allies for various roles in the Government. The unanimous reelection of Xi for the third time by the national parliament and enthusiastic reaction of the people of China are manifestation of the trust that Xi enjoys as unchallenged leader.
President Xi Jinping earns great respect and love from his own people because of his people-centric policies, massive drive against corruption and comprehensive measures to address excesses and inequalities in the society. Xi is, in fact, the kind of leader that China needs to achieve its destined exalted place in the comity of nations.