As the wars in Ukraine and Palestine raged on, Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in his 2024 New Year’s address, was quoted as saying: “As I speak to you, conflicts are still raging in some parts of the world. We Chinese are keenly aware of what peace means. We will work closely with the international community for the common good of humanity, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make the world a better place for all.”
A few days earlier, he had hosted, in Beijing, the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs.
According to the Chinese foreign ministry, the Chinese president had “presented a systematic review of the historic achievements and valuable experience of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, gave a profound exposition on the international environment and historical mission of China’s external work on the new journey, and made comprehensive plans for China’s external work for the present and coming periods.”
Furthermore, the conference highlighted that building a community with a shared future for humankind is a core characteristic of the Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.
The Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy encapsulates a number of tenets. Firstly, diplomats are called to be loyal to the Communist Party of China which has articulated the “original aspiration and mission” of the Chinese people.
President Xi Jinping reminded Chinese diplomats that “over 1.4 billion Chinese people are strong supporters of the diplomatic work. The envoys were urged to take ‘diplomacy for the people’ as their commitment, and pass on the CPC Central Committee’s care and concern to every overseas Chinese.”
Secondly, Chinese diplomats were reminded that they should strengthen their sense of responsibility and be pioneers in their endeavours. The work of winning public support should reach not only governments but also ordinary people.
Thirdly, “the envoys must have the courage and ability to carry on [a] fight and act as defenders of national interests.” In other words, they must use multilateral institutions and all avenues to defend Chinese interests.
Finally, diplomats must reform themselves and act as promoters of full and rigorous Party self-governance. Put differently, these individuals must commit themselves to ensuring that they have the capacity and capabilities to represent the Chinese people effectively and efficiently.
Commenting on President Xi Jinping’s address afterwards, Chinese ambassador to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, indicated that China-Africa relations had achieved historic progress due to what he thought was the influence of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the principles of sincerity, real results, amity, and good faith, as well as pursuing the greater good and shared interests by President Xi Jinping. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, the development of China-Africa relations have achieved historic progress,” said Ambassador Chen Xiaodong.
For his part, the Chinese ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang, said, “we believe that under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, China will open up fresh prospects for major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era and the new journey."
The development of the Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy can certainly teach the rest of the world a few lessons on the importance of international relations and cooperation.
Yet it is important to Africa and the developing world because as Professor Yang Guangbin, dean of the school of international studies at Renmin University puts it, “…the volume of emerging market countries and developing economies, represented by China, has approached that of developed economies. By 2035, the [global] GDP of developing countries is projected to surpass that of developed economies, and their share in the global economy and investment will approach 60%.”
Professor Yang Guangbin goes on to point out that “this change is bound to lay the foundation for a ‘great transformation’ in the current world order and fundamentally alter the contemporary world political system, which is rife with hierarchical structures and imperialistic tendencies.”
Given that the West has failed in providing global leadership, the world, especially the developing economies, therefore continue to look to China for leadership in conflict situations, especially in Ukraine and Palestine, to ensure that the Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is exemplary and is able to bring peace, which President Xi Jinping speaks about, to fruition.
Seale has a PhD in Chinese foreign policy.