Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, March 20, 2004

China's diplomacy has drawn closer to ordinary people in recent years

Moving closer to ordinary people and increasing the transparency of diplomatic work is only an expression of China�s new diplomatic train of thought. In recent years, Chinese diplomats have made a series of innovations and breakthroughs while inheriting and carrying forward fine traditions.


When answering reporters' questions concerning China's foreign policy at the Great Hall of the People on March 6 after the opening of the 2nd Session of the 10th NPC, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing particularly gave an introduction to several Chinese diplomats: Councilor Li Jianguo who recently passed away in his prime life after working hard in area under arduous conditions; another councilor Fu Huaqiang who had been working for more than 20 years despite pain caused by the bullet wound and Ambassador Shao Guanfu who used to live in a container-remodeled shabby chamber for nearly a year. Li's remarks seemed to have shortened the distance between Chinese diplomats and the ordinary people all of a sudden. People have noticed that there has been a notable increase in lectures on foreign policy given by officials at various levels from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, senior leaders of the ministry, including the minister, have, on many occasions, had free talks with Net surfers on the international situation and issues of public concern, and more than 30 netizens have been invited to visit the Foreign Ministry, the first activity organized ever since the founding of New China in 1949. All this conveys a message that Chinese diplomats are getting closer to common people.

In fact, moving closer to ordinary people and increasing the transparency of diplomatic work is only an expression of China's new diplomatic train of thought. In recent years, Chinese diplomats have made a series of innovations and breakthroughs while inheriting and carrying forward fine traditions.

Firstly, putting the service function in the important position of diplomatic work. The service functions of diplomatic work include earnestly safeguarding the legal rights and interests of Chinese government officials, legal persons and citizens overseas. Along with the deepening of China's reform and opening up drive, the tasks of "promoting economic and trade cooperation" and "protecting lawful rights and interests" are getting heavier in diplomatic work with each passing day. The fact that State leaders personally did work with Russian leaders on the matter regarding the Angarsk-Daqing oil pipeline, went around calling for normal development of China-US economic and trade ties and actively pushed for the establishment of a China-ASEAN free trade area, all these have left a deep impression on the people of the world. To properly handle the aftermath of the big fire in Moscow's Patrice Lumumba People's Friendship University, the Chinese Foreign Ministry opened a 24-hour hot line to help students' families fly to Moscow, and the staff at the Chinese Embassy in Moscow, from the ambassador to general officials, went deep into the scene of conflagration, worked for several straight days without regard for their sleep and meal to help identify the dead, treat the injured and fight for reasonable compensations. When the Mecca stampede occurred, officials from the Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Consulate General of the PRC in Jeddah immediately raced to the spot and worked there day in, day out to collect information about Chinese pilgrims and ask for possible help from the Saudi Arabian government. "Turn to the embassy when you are in difficulty"-the promise gained a more cordial tone during the past year.

Secondly, the awareness of being active and creative in foreign work has been enhanced. Making timely policy adjustment in light of changes in the international situation is the need of opening up a new phase in diplomatic work. For example, the existence of NATO, though a product of the Cold War, cannot be evaded. China started informal contacts with NATO as of October 2002, exchanges between the two sides have been increasing, and these "historic" contacts are likely to exert a far-reaching influence on China's relations with NATO and Europe. In the past China had been staying at a respectful distance from G8, but its relations with the organization turned on a new page when President Hu Jintao attended an informal Enlarged Dialogue meeting between G8 leaders and heads of 11 developing countries held last June in Evian, France. India is a major neighbor of China, whose potential for development is tremendous, but ties between the two countries have not been developing smoothly. Yet the past year saw many meetings between Chinese and Indian leaders and a number of visits exchanged between envoys for talks on the boundary issue, and the rescue drill jointly conducted by the two navies in Shanghai. "Friendship" and a "win-win result" have become the keynotes of India's public opinion toward China, and some overseas media even described the rapid warm-up of China-India ties as "amazing". But he most noticeable achievement of China on the international arena is its vigorous mediation efforts to bring about tripartite talks and two rounds of six-party talks in Beijing on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, which helped to reach consensus on solving the issue by peaceful means and thus easing tension in the region. As "host" and "chairperson" of the talks, China's coordinating role is highly praised by parties involved as well as by the international community. As American and European media put it, China's diplomacy has "moved from the back to the front stage".

Thirdly, diplomatic work has assumed a deeper hue of emotion. Diplomatic work is, in the final analysis, work with people, and sympathy or support from a friend is most touching upon one in need. Last year saw frequent terrorist attacks and natural disasters all over the world, but leaders of victimized countries could always receive messages of sympathy and aid from Chinese leaders and government. Especially after the serious earthquakes in Algeria and Iran, China's special planes loaded with rescue staff and relief materials took off at the earliest time possible, a prompt reaction never seen before. When large-scale bird flu epidemic broke out not long ago in some Asian countries and regions, China, while engaging in its domestic prevention and control work, provided aid in cash and medicine to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries. The aid might be nothing much, but it conveyed China's sincerity in its policy of "good-neighborliness and partnership" toward its Asian neighbors. Moreover, Chinese leaders have been keeping contacts with many state leaders via hot lines, and "head-of-state diplomacy" has played a significant role at critical moments. For example, on the Iraq issue early last year, Chinese leaders made a number of telephone conversations with heads of the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, and through communications with them gave full play to China's unique influence.

Fourthly, Chinese diplomats have become more mature in tackling emergencies and handling thorny problems. The past year was unusual for China's diplomacy, during which the country defused crises and met challenges properly. The outbreak of SARS for a while affected China's foreign contacts and upset its relations with Southeast Asian neighbors. China promptly grasped the crucial point of the problem and did active work on its neighbors, and thus finally won their precious understanding and support. The Iraq issue meant a severe test to China's diplomacy. China disfavored authorization from the Security Council to America for using force in Iraq, at the same time it paid attention to keeping a certain distance from France, Russia and Germany. On the question of the UN Security Council Resolution 1511 regarding returning power to the Iraqi people and postwar reconstruction, China, proceeding from safeguard of the vital interests of the Iraqi people, did active work with the other four permanent members of the Security Council and urged America to make fairly big concessions, thus playing a key role in the Council's final passing of the revised resolution. China had a proper sense of propriety on the Iraq issue as it upheld principle, maintained unity of the Security Council and secured stable development of Sino-US relations.

While appraising China's diplomatic performance in the past year, foreign leaders and the international community used the same words, "mature", "experienced" and "equable". Diplomacy is an extension of internal administration, and the "maturity" of China's diplomacy is identical with the development and progress of the country as a whole. Diplomacy serves internal administration. China's diplomacy, which puts the interests of the motherland and its people in the first place and has been serving and getting nearer to ordinary people, this is also an embodiment of the CPC's guiding thought of "exercising power for the people".

By People's Daily Online

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