In the final two weeks of 2016, Chinese diplomacy has scored an impressive hat-trick: normalization of relations with Norway, Mongolia’s commitment not to allow Dalai Lama visits, and restoration of diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe after the country cut relations with Taiwan.
This diplomatic treble was no accident. The seemingly unrelated cases share a similarity: recanting perceived challenges to China’s core interests. They sent a strong signal to the world that the appeal of good Chinese diplomatic relations is rising and that respecting China’s concerns is not empty talk.
The one-China principle, which concerns China’s core interests and the feelings of its 1.3 billion people, is the unshakable basis for China to develop relations with other countries.
After Norway reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China principle and respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, China agreed to resume free trade negotiations and to promote investment in the Nordic country.
The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese criminal convicted of inciting subversion of state power, was an infamous decision by the Norwegian Nobel committee and resulted in China-Norway ties being frozen for six years. Mongolia, learning lessons from the Dalai Lama’s visit in November, promised never to allow such visits again, just one month later. Mongolia’s move rings alarm bells for any countries that have contact with this political exile who attempts to split Tibet from China under the cloak religion — such a move will severely jeopardize ties with China.
The big strides prove that while China advocates mutual respect and win-win relationships when dealing with foreign countries, any country with a keen interest to develop relations with China needs to do the same.
China’s international engagement has become increasingly proactive and pioneering. From garnering support of over 90 countries and 230 political parties on the so-called South China Sea arbitration to hosting the Hangzhou G20 Summit that gathered more than 30 world leaders, China is increasingly confident on the world stage and reaped a bumper diplomatic harvest in 2016.
Nonetheless, Westerners who cannot get accustomed to China’s rising international status find China’s diplomatic triumphs hard to swallow.
The claim that China uses economic leverage to achieve diplomatic successes makes no sense. Take the case of Sao Tome and Principe: Taiwan poached it from China with a considerable financial package in 1997, before that the African country had established diplomatic relations with China in 1975.—Xinhua