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English>>Foreign Affairs

China to inject new vitality into peripheral diplomacy, unveiling more opportunities for neighbors

(Xinhua)    13:29, January 05, 2015

BEIJING, Jan. 5 -- Despite being surrounded by the largest number of neighbors in the world's most diversified and complicated political landscape, China will continue the momentum of a good-neighborly foreign policy toward its neighboring countries in the new year.

In 2014, Chinese leaders have traveled extensively and effectively across the country's vast neighborhood.

From Central Asia to Southeast Asia, from South Korea to Mongolia, China's proactive diplomacy has manifested its growing engagement and rapport with its neighbors, which aims to create an increasingly secure, peaceful and stable environment for the common development of countries in the region, including China itself.

High hopes have been pinned upon the year of 2015 for China to further cement ties with its Asian neighbors, build up confidence, and defuse misgivings and tensions, thus jointly reinforcing peace and prosperity of the region as a whole.

Among the intricate inter-state ties in Asia, China's relationship with Japan has always stood out as one of the most delicate and intriguing ties for both historical and current political reasons.

Tokyo's repeated attempts to whitewash militarist Japan's World War II atrocities have alienated the country from its neighbors including China and South Korea, and set the whole region's nerves on edge. Meanwhile, the country's aggressive moves on the Diaoyu Islands have sent its ties with China to a freezing point.

For the past year, there were both promising signs and frustrating setbacks in the icy China-Japan relations. Hopes of defrosting flickered in November as the two sides reached a four-point consensus and reaffirmed willingness to advance ties during a landmark summit in Beijing.

In view of both political and economic stakes, it is highly advisable for Japan, with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo staying at the helm, to put its promises into practice, reign in its rightist forces at home, and cooperate with China to strive for a more peaceful Asia.

While there is still much uncertainty surrounding the future of the China-Japan ties, by stark contrast, the China-South Korea relationship has embarked on a fast track of development following Xi's trip to Seoul in July last year.

The two nations, both of which had been ravaged by wars in World War II, share the earnest aspiration for peace. Considered as crucial pillars for peace and prosperity of the region, particularly Northeast Asia, China and South Korea have pledged to make joint efforts to push for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Headway has also been made on the economic front as the two countries concluded in November their two-and-half-year negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, which is expected to take effect in 2015.

Situated closely on China's southern perimeter is Southeast Asia, an intensive cluster of a dozen small yet highly diversified nations, whose relations with their giant northern neighbor have, by and large, followed an upward trajectory of development over the past decade.

Just as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put it, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will upgrade their partnership in an upcoming "diamond decade" following a fruitful "golden decade."

For Southeast Asian nations, the year of 2015 is promising. The envisioned ASEAN Economic Community, which will bring the bloc one step further in its integration process, is set to be finalized.

However, territorial disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries, which should and could be handled in bilateral settings, have emerged occasionally to trouble China's relations with ASEAN as a whole.

It has become a consensus that ASEAN, as the most prominent regional grouping in Southeast Asia, should not be kidnapped by any single country to serve its own purpose and put the interest of the whole bloc at stake.

The China-Vietnam relationship witnessed encouraging signs of improvement after China's top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng visited the country last month. The two sides agreed to properly settle their maritime disputes and control their differences through dialogue.

As for the Philippines, which has unilaterally sought international arbitration over its territorial spats with China in the South China Sea, its reckless attempt to internationalize a bilateral dispute with its northern neighbor has achieved nothing, only to further complicate the issue and poison its ties with China.

In fact, for the maximum interests of the Philippines, Manila should change its course in its approach to the disputes with China and return as soon as possible to the right track of bilateral negotiations with a greater degree of sincerity, instead of playing the trick of instituting an international lawsuit.

Given China's tremendous size both geographically and economically, it is understandable that for some Asian countries, living next door to a rising giant could be somehow unsettling. But a review of the historical facts and present reality could easily disperse such worries.

Just as an old Chinese saying goes, a good neighbor is not to be traded for gold. China has proven itself to be such a valuable neighbor.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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