China will continue to play important role in fostering global development, and stability

Gideon Chitanga

Gideon Chitanga

Published Jan 18, 2024


Gideon Chitanga

At a meeting with Chinese diplomatic envoys attending the Annual Work Conference for Overseas Envoys to Foreign Countries held at the Great Hall of the People on December 29 2023, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech resonating with China’s short to medium term responsibilities as a leading global power.

Xi rallied leaders and experts in foreign policy to hold high the banner of building a community with a shared future for humanity, to keep opening new prospects for major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, tell China’s stories and the peaceful contribution of Chinese modernisation to humanity, promote understanding between China and the world through linking the country’s past with the present to enable the world to have a better understanding of the role if China in the new era.

Xi also emphasized the importance of unity, stability, ideological clarity, and innovation at home in ensuring that China continues to play an important role as a responsible trusted leading global power.

China has become a responsible major-country and global power with enhanced international influence, stronger capacity to steer new endeavours, greater moral appeal, hugely contributing to mutually beneficial development with both the global south and developed countries in the North. Beijing has demonstrated self-confident, assertive foreign policy rooted on the twin pillars of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and Major-country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era to play a critical role in confronting contemporary global challenges.

Emboldened by decades of rapid peaceful development and a deep commitment to national sovereignty and interest, China has rallied the global community towards mutually beneficial partnerships based on a more equitably participatory global order seeking diplomatic solutions to conflicts, dialogue over war and violence, and shared prosperity in the new era.

More importantly, these initiatives have resonated with the widespread interests of governments and citizens of the global south demonstrating confidence and support in China’s global leadership in facing emerging multilateral challenges.

Despite Beijing’s extensive transformative influence across the globe, Western critics have continued to stoke doubts on the role of China, while imposing sanctions which threaten equitable participation in the global economy and the fostering of harmony and amity between nations and different civilisations.

Major differences have also emerged between the West and countries in the global south over global security issues, for example, the conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, and Israel and Palestine, and the historical hegemonic unilateral political and economic dominance of world relations by the West, amongst many challenges impacting global development and security.

In his speech, President Xi acknowledged the significant achievements made in China's diplomatic work rooted in the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, the Central Conference on Work Related to Foreign Affairs, the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy in particular, which has become the bedrock of modern Chinese diplomacy.

He highlighted China’s historic achievements and valuable experience of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era which have seen China emerge as a trusted major development partner across the world. He laid out China’s historical mission in the short and long term based on comprehensive plans for China’s external work for the present and coming periods with Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as the theoretical and practical foundation of China’s diplomacy, and fundamental guideline for advancing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.

Since the past few decades, China has evolved distinct diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, style, and ethos to become a confident, self-reliant, open, and inclusive major country with a global vision benefiting the broader humanity beyond Beijing. Envisioned on building a community with a shared future for mankind, pointing the right direction for human society leading to common development, lasting peace and security, and mutual learning between civilisations, China is increasingly playing important and constructive role in international affairs.

Chinese diplomacy seeks to foster a holistic approach in relations with all parties to nurture peaceful coexistence, overall stability, and mutually beneficial balanced development, through wide-ranging, high-quality global networks of bilateral and multilateral partnerships, creating broad-based and largest platform for international cooperation.

Beijing’s active participation in global governance, and advocacy for reforming the international system beyond a hegemonically skewed relations creates immense opportunities for emerging post unipolar global order. The commitment to hold high moral ground while championing peaceful development, promoting global stability and prosperity beyond power politics and bullying will create a more favourable international environment benefiting all humanity.

Chinese led region specific and international cooperation initiatives will continue to strengthen bilateral and multilateral synergies in tackling contemporary challenges, while democratizing global relations to foster active and global participation global for the global south.

There are 140 countries which have joined the BRI, while the BRICS+ is now made up of 10 states covering Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, with many countries having indicated their interest to join the grouping.

Initiatives such as the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the BRICS+, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI), the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) amongst others have set critical shifts beyond hegemonic relations dominated by the West, creating broader spaces for multilateral cooperation rooted in visions of global equity and mutually beneficial relations.

The BRI is significantly playing an important role in multilateral socio-economic development, linking diverse continents through infrastructure, technology, and broader economic development. China is significantly playing a critical role in safeguarding global security, peace, and stability across the world by contributing to peace missions through the United Nations, sponsoring peace diplomacy based on dialogue and mediation to build bridges between violently polarised societies, based on the values of mutually respect and respect to national sovereignty.

China has continued to actively promote peace and security through diplomacy and to support peace keeping missions in diverse parts of the world. Attesting to its effective peace diplomacy, China successfully brokered the Saudi-Iran deal paving the way for restoration and normalisation of diplomatic relations, which could reset the volatile Middle East region for a ‘wave of reconciliation’, fostering stability and peaceful development.

Furthermore, China committed to supporting countries in the Middle East in exploring development paths which suit their own national conditions, strengthening communication and dialogue, adhering to unity and self-improvement, and realising good-neighbourliness and friendship.

China has also extended calls for peace and security to the parties involved in the conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, and Israel and Palestine, calling for dialogue and mediation as a pathway towards durable peace and stability.

Relations between Africa and China are set to further consolidate based on strengthened solidarity and deepening diversified economic ties. In 2023 more than 20 African heads of state and foreign ministers made official visits to Beijing, while President Xi visited South Africa during the BRICS summit. Each month over the past year between 50 to 100 Africa-China activities were held between the African continent and China.

In line with the tradition signifying the importance of ties between Africa and China, the Chinese foreign minister is expected to continue the practice of visiting several African countries at the beginning of 2024.

This year’s trip will be pivotal because it will kick off the official race to the most important event in the Africa-China relationship, the 9th FOCAC to be held in Beijing, a major event likely to open new opportunities for China to invest in the continent at a time when the U.S. and EU have launched their infrastructure initiatives, the PGII and the Global Gateway in a bid to keep the continent in their geopolitical and diplomatic orbit.

China will evidently continue to provide resonant global leadership to consolidate peaceful mutually beneficial relations with the support of many governments and their citizens across the world.

Gideon Chitanga, PhD, is a Research Associate at the African Centre for the Study of the United States, the University of the Witwatersrand.

The Star