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Thursday, May 26, 2016, 12:28

China's spring diplomacy renews peace pledge

By Xinhua

China's spring diplomacy renews peace pledge

Chinese President, Xi Jinping delivers his speech at the opening ceremony of the fifth regular foreign ministers' meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 28, 2016. (KENZABURO FUKUHARA / AFP)

BEIJING - Marked by a new round of handshakes and deal-making, China's spring season diplomacy underscored once again the country's commitment to peace, cooperation and world security.

With Beijing forging closer ties with nations both near and afar, observers say China's latest foreign relations drive is refining its diplomatic push.

COOPERATION FOR COMMON DESTINY

Since Xi Jinping assumed the presidency in 2013, the Chinese top leader's globetrotting has taken him to over 40 countries.

His most recent trips to the Czech Republic and to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit in late March and early April are testament to China's commitment to mutually beneficial cooperation.

In Prague, Xi and his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman saw the two countries elevate their relations to strategic partnership and oversaw the inking of a host of intergovernmental agreements in fields such as e-commerce, investment, science and technology, tourism, culture, and aviation.

And in Washington, Xi and US President Barack Obama, agreed to deepen China-US cooperation in various fields while managing differences in a bid to consolidate and expand their countries' common interests.

"Cooperation and win-win are the core of China's foreign policy," said Ruan Zongze, deputy head of the China Institute of International Studies.

Since 2012, Xi has spoken of a "community of common destiny" dozens of times, putting the notion at the heart of relations with China's neighbors and the international community at large.

MORE ACTIVE ON THE HOME COURT

Back on home soil, a succession of foreign heads of states and governments visited China from March to mid May, putting Beijing's "home court diplomacy" in the spotlight.

Xi met during this period with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, German President Joachim Gauck, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, among others.

The list gets even longer to include dignitaries such as British Prince Andrew, Russia's Presidential Administration chief Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and head of State Duma Sergei Naryshkin, and former US Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson.

At the opening ceremony of the fifth Foreign Ministers' Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Xi proposed Asian countries to explore a new approach to regional security cooperation, one that reflects Asian needs.

In the meantime in Hainan, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam in March about China's plans to offer some US$1.54 billion in concessional loans and up to US$10 billion in credit lines to fund infrastructure and improve connectivity in countries along the Lancang-Mekong River.

One day later, Li called for closer cooperation among Asian countries at the 2016 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which was attended by more than 2,000 participants from over 60 countries and regions.

"It is clear that we are seeing a very busy year in China's home court diplomacy in 2016, particularly with the upcoming G20 summit scheduled in Hangzhou," said Prof Yang Baoyun with Thailand's Thammasat University.

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