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Researchers are positive about China's foreign policy
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16:15, April 23, 2009

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Since reform and opening up began in 1978, China's foreign policy has changed from the one-sided diplomacy to the all-dimensional or multi-dimensional diplomacy.

That means during Mao Zedong's period, China had developed friendly relations mostly with developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America due to the cold war and other international situations. But after the resumption of Sino-US relations, China became more active in developing relations with all countries including the US and European countries.

However, it was in recent years that western media and researchers began to notice that Chinese diplomacy seems to be special, especially its policies towards Africa.
In fact, China has always insisted on the five principles of peaceful coexistence, equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

But what have aroused the attention from the researchers are the following aspects.
First, China is more active in multilateral relations.

"China has become more active in the international arena. When you think of China 10 to 15 years ago, China relied mostly on bilateral relations in conducting its foreign policy. Today China is more and more involved in multilateral organizations and multilateral forums to meet its objectives. I think this is partly a result of China having become more self-confident." said Linda Jakobson, who is a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. She has been in China for many years and mostly researches issues related to China.

She explained that before China was worrying how it would manage in the multilateral setting and wondered how well they could pursue their national interests. But the more experienced and skillful Chinese diplomats have become, the more confident China has become, and also the more comfortable China has become in working with other countries. In western countries, especially as a result of the financial crisis, almost everyone emphasizes interdependence and multilateral relations.

Second, in policies towards Africa, China insists on mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

"When we look at China's policies towards Africa and western policies towards Africa, we do see a difference. China has been praised by African officials that it tries never to talk about aid. They always talk about cooperation. Africans have for decades heard that they have been given something by the western countries. There are lots of examples of how this approach of not wanting to be the little brother getting something from the big brother is appreciated by African officials, " said Jakobson.
Third, China is not exporting its development model.

"I don't see China exporting its development model to other countries. China has continuously emphasized that ‘we are not trying to push our development models on other countries. Every country has to find its own model'. This is a rather substantial difference at least between the US policies under the Bush administration and China's policies," Said Jakobson.

She said that there are researchers, however, who have said that China is only happy to see other people follow their development model, but still, they are not pushing it on them and they are at least not openly exporting it. China always says that every country has to find their own path.

Fourth, China has been active in participating international peace keeping tasks. According to Dr. Henning Melber, Executive Director of the Dag Hammarskyöld Foundation in Uppsala in Sweden, China has sent a lot of peace-keeping forces to the world to fulfill the UN peace keeping missions. This shows China has carried out its international responsibilities.

Jakobson thinks that Chinese foreign policy is transforming both to meet the demands from the changing Chinese society and the changing international environment.

By Xuefei Chen, People's Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm.

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