Published: 12:00, May 19, 2024
China's strategic global equilibrium benefits world stability
By Wilson Lee Flores

In a world beset with geopolitical turbulence, China's deft maneuvering between its steadfast strategic partner Russia and its key partners in the West, notably the European Union (EU) and the United States, has emerged as a masterclass in strategic diplomacy. It exemplifies genuine and high-caliber independent foreign policy, which has so far yielded significant dividends not only for Beijing, but has benefitted world stability.

The global arena, characterized now by the resurgence of great power rivalries, has seen China adopt a wise and pragmatic dual-track foreign policy. On one hand, Beijing has solidified its traditional good neighborly ties with Moscow, a relationship underscored by mutual geopolitical interests and a shared vision of a multipolar world order. On the other hand, China has consistently strengthened its diplomacy and economic engagements with the West, particularly Europe and the United States, ensuring that its dynamic economic engine continues to roar.

This strategy is not without its complexities. China's relationship with Russia has continued to grow, despite harsh Western sanctions on Moscow due its conflict with Ukraine. However, China doesn’t have any formal military or war alliance with Moscow that could alienate its Western trade partners and the Chinese government has in fact publicly proposed a comprehensive proposal for cease-fire and peace talks. That is why it is very unfair for some Western politicians to harangue Beijing for allegedly “assisting Moscow in its war”, just because of its continuous normal brisk trade with its neighbor. 

The recent visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Beijing, accompanied by a delegation of business leaders and the recent warm welcome by French President Emmanuel Macron to President Xi Jinping, both exemplify the European Union's pragmatic engagement with China. Despite ideological differences and geopolitical tensions, economic interdependence remains a strong adhesive in Sino-European relations. This pragmatic engagement ensures that while Europe and China may disagree on certain policies, crucial economic and diplomatic ties continue.

Beijing's cautious, balanced and pragmatic diplomacy reflects a keen understanding of the broader geopolitical landscape. By maintaining a balanced approach, China avoids the pitfalls of over-commitment and preserves its strategic autonomy

Similarly, Sino-American relations, although strained in recent years, have shown signs of stabilization. The Biden administration's approach towards China, characterized by competition and selective cooperation, acknowledges the necessity of engagement on global challenges like climate change, global health, artificial intelligence and other areas where China's participation is indispensable. For the sake of global stability and progress, Washington should do more to lessen animosity towards and seek to normalize bilateral relations with Beijing.

For China, this strategic balancing act serves multiple purposes. First, it bolsters China’s image for navigating complex international waters while ensuring China's economic growth and stability. Second, it also reinforces China's position as a global power that can independently chart its course without succumbing to external pressures. Third, it reaffirms China’s reputation as responsible global power with a truly independent foreign policy guided by lofty principles, pragmatic logic, consistency and the strategic national interests of its people.

The symbiotic yet asymmetric relationship with Russia under the strong-willed President Vladimor Putin also provides China with a strategic counterweight against the antagonistic pressures from some quarters in the West.

Moreover, Beijing's cautious, balanced and pragmatic diplomacy reflects a keen understanding of the broader geopolitical landscape. By maintaining a balanced approach, China avoids the pitfalls of over-commitment and preserves its strategic autonomy.

Critics might argue that this balancing act is unsustainable in the long run, especially as the global order becomes more polarized. Yet, so far, China's approach has been remarkably effective and increasingly understood by majority of the countries of the world and the United Nations. Besides, for decades China has been consistent in its independent foreign policy that cherishes principles in the Charter of the United Nations and five principles of peaceful coexistence, now successfully extending to its vision for a human community of shared future.

By leveraging its economic influence and diplomatic finesse, Beijing has managed to keep both its partners and rivals in check, ensuring that it remains a pivotal player on the world stage and a strong advocate of stability amidst geopolitical uncertainties.

In conclusion, I believe China's strategic balance between Russia and the West represents a sophisticated blend of pragmatism and realpolitik. It underscores Beijing's ability to navigate a complex and often contradictory global environment without compromising its principles and core interests.

As the world continues to grapple with the reverberations of intensifying great power politics, China's approach offers valuable insights into the art of balancing competing imperatives and high diplomacy in an era of constant uncertainty.

Wilson Lee Flores is moderator of Pandesal Forum, multi-awarded writer, columnist of "Philippine Star" and “Abante” newspapers, economics and politics analyst, poet, college teacher and real estate entrepreneur.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.