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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
A member of a Chinese military honour guard in position prior to a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on April 18, 2016. (FRED DUFOUR / AF P)


Neighborhood policy is another important feature of China's spring season diplomacy drive. With Beijing pushing for a community of common future, Chinese diplomats are also keeping their focus near home.

Since March, Foreign Minister Wang Yi has visited Russia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, and held talks with counterparts from Japan, Russia, and India.

Xi has also spent considerable time meeting with leaders and ministers from neighboring countries.

The first leaders' meeting of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and the BFA provided new venues to boost regional ties.

"Neighborhood diplomacy seems to be a prominent trait of China's foreign relations drive this year," said Tang Qifang, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies.

This is not necessarily a new development. Over the past several years, China has worked extensively to deepen its economic links with neighboring countries to promote economic prosperity and greater integration in the region.

It has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, which consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, and established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to address infrastructure needs in the region.

"It is fair to say that Beijing has been particularly proactive in the diplomatic sphere since March this year, as it pushes to sort things out on its own doorstep," said Yang Baoyun, who lectures at the school of international relations at Peking University.

Yang noted that "frequent interactions" between China and Southeast Asian countries in the past two months were partly the result of a pending arbitration over the South China Sea, which was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

China has repeatedly said it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration, with a foreign ministry spokesperson referring to Manila's action as "blackmail."

But both Yang and Tang dismissed the idea that the South China Sea disputes were the sole reason for China's recent emphasis on neighborhood diplomacy.

"The real rationale behind this is that China's rise has increasingly shifted the world's political and economic spotlight toward the Asia Pacific," Tang explained.

"And that in turn has led China to attach more importance to its periphery," Tang said.

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