An Orientation toward Foreign Policy of China


An Orientation toward Foreign Policy of China

In sequel to a three-day lecture series on ‘Understanding China’, aimed at developing insight into Chinese history, political system and society, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held another exclusive orientation session on ‘Foreign Policy of China’


In sequel to a three-day lecture series on ‘Understanding China’, aimed at developing insight into Chinese history, political system and society, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held another exclusive orientation session on ‘Foreign Policy of China’, while particularly inviting the students of Masters and M. Phil. Programs in the Universities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.


In his opening remarks, DG IPS Khalid Rahman said that the session on ‘Foreign Policy of China’ is particularly important for the university students who are generally studying the subject of foreign policies of great powers under their respective disciplines. Shedding light on the efficacy of such a sitting, he conveyed that it would help in understanding the evolution of China’s independent foreign policy of peace, the approach with which China is playing its role in the international problems, its policy towards the Muslim World and the dynamics of its relations with Pakistan.


01While discussing the history of China’s foreign policy, the speaker Prof. Zhou Rong shared that China was going through a war like situation in the post World War II period, owing to the revolution going on there. It was not strange in this context that from 1949 to 1976, under the leadership of Mao Zhedong, China pursued the foreign policy of supporting the liberation movements in the developing countries and opposed hegemonism. However, after 1978, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the period of ‘peace and development’ was started and ‘an independent foreign policy’ was the most significant slogan of that time. The situation which emerged since the end of the Cold War – for acquiring favorable international environment for development – led it to stress the peaceful relations with its neighboring countries. Consequently, China supported peaceful settlement of the conflicts, while preserving the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State as fundamental goals of its foreign policy.


02Elaborating the policies of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, Prof. Rong noted that China maintained sovereignty along with peaceful way of settling the issues. The policy of ‘one country two systems’ in Hong Kong and Macao i.e. the acceptance of capitalist system in a socialist society is a live example of peaceful settlement of the issues. The realization of an independent foreign policy proved a mean for China to achieve the end of getting a respectable place in the world arena, in the later years. On territorial integrity, Prof. Zhou underlined that China has never claimed itself to be a super power; it opposes an international order that is based on hegemonism and supports the establishment of an international political and economic order that would be fair and rational.


03The set principles of China’s present foreign policy are: to establish and develop friendly relations of cooperation with all the countries on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. China is often criticized on human rights related issues, which is a disconcerting factor for it; nevertheless, to achieve solidarity with the international community, the Chinese government has attached great importance to human rights and has made unremitting efforts in this regard. It has joined 18 human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


04Illuminating about the China’s foreign policy toward the developing countries, the speaker said that China does not accept the jargon of ‘third world’; instead, it believes in the terminology of developing countries. China has developed promising relations with most of the developing countries. It advocates that countries should overcome their differences on social system and ideology; they should respect one another, seek common grounds, shelve differences and enhance their mutually beneficial cooperation. Their disputes should be appropriately solved through dialogue, on the basis of equality and mutual respect. China has put in a lot of investment in Africa, which is in interest of both China and Africa; this has always been the approach of Chinese leadership – they want the development of their country along with the development of other developing countries.


As to China’s foreign policy towards the Muslim World, China has always preserved very good relationship with the Muslim countries. It supports the Palestinian people’s stance of having an independent state of their own; however alongside, it wants them to realize that one of the pre-requisites for that matter is the unity of the people and the political parties for the common cause that is unfortunately lacking between major Palestinian groups such as Al-Fatah and Hamas. On the issue of Iraq, China has never supported America’s invasion on Iraq. China also has very good relations with Iran; nevertheless, China may not support Iran to have a nuclear bomb.


05Regarding international conflicts, the speaker emphasized that all countries should resolve their disputes and conflicts peacefully through consultations while refraining from resorting to the use or threat of use of force; besides, they should also stay away from interfering in each other’s internal affairs under any pretext. Following such foreign policy principles, China has never imposed its social system and ideology on others, nor does it allow other countries to impose theirs on it. This is one of the reasons of Pak-China friendly relations, as both China and Pakistan believe in the policy of non-interference – whenever China is in difficulty or Pakistan is facing some crises, they help each other but never interfere in each other’s domestic issues.


Commenting further on Pak-China relations, the speaker deliberated that Pakistan and China are close friends; they share common history wherein both were oppressed and exploited by the colonists. Strategically, China enjoys international border only with Pakistan, which guarantees the security of both the countries. While showing his worries on Pakistan’s present situation, he said that China would be happy if it finds Pakistan in same position, which China is presently enjoying in the world; China’s last year GDP was 4.85 trillion (US dollars) making it the world’s second largest economy with per capita income of 3500 (US dollars) and within next 10 years, its per capita income is expected to boost up to 10,000 (US dollars). 06

However now, while China has made immense advancement, it should not forget that Pakistan was the only country that helped China in the past, without any precondition. Now, this is the time for China to show sincerity towards Pakistani people. Prof. Rong further maintained that China wants Pakistan to stand on its own feet. If Pak-China relations are compared with Pak-US relations, it will be obvious that the people of Pakistan have very less inclination towards America as compared to China despite the fact that America is a bigger donor country to Pakistan. One of the main reasons for this is that using aid as a tool, America always interferes in the domestic issues of Pakistan; on the contrary, though China may not be a major donor to Pakistan, yet it has never interfered in the internal affairs of Pakistan.


Discussing China’s relationship with India during Q & A session, Prof. Rong said that although since the post Cold War era, China has tangibly improved its relations with India at bilateral level, particularly in the political and economic fields, yet both India and China lack mutual trust; “We also have deficits of the mutual trust,” he said. It is due to this mistrust that China has not been able to play the role of mediator between Pakistan and India on issues such as Kashmir.


07Concluding the session, DG IPS Khalid Rahman defined the foreign policy as a dynamic phenomenon that is always open to modifications in the wake of developments in the international and regional environment. The present world is a post Cold War world, which is still in a transitional phase with one super power and a number of emerging powers; indeed, China is one of those emerging powers. One can expect that with the passage of time, China will be playing even greater role in global affairs while endorsing Chinese approach of independence, peaceful co-existence, harmonious and mutual development and replacing the so-called national interest approach with these.


Foreign policy is always a reflection of what a country and its people are aspiring internally; accordingly, the governments need to develop and reflect the consensus within country on issues of security and foreign policy. Like China, Pakistan can also do much better with more independent foreign policy based on national agenda and an indigenous approach that is reflective of the aspirations of people.


May 26, 2010

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