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Sunday, June 21, 2009

China’s diplomacy in a multi-polar world

Exerting influence through multi-lateral organizations. Something it seems the US pioneered but has forgotten how to execute with any finesse. That's the gist of my takeaway from this article that I found on my new favourite read, the Global Times. I like the term multi-polar too, certainly a very succinct descriptor of the current global situation; as opposed to the recent US habit of unilateral and unpopular enforcement/deployment of their own foreign policies (read: Bush, for example). Whilst the US is busy fighting in the middle east, China has been keenly lapping up the attention of the rest of the world (posited in the media to look like a focus on especially third-world countries with abundance of natural resources, for starters), extending olive branches in terms of financial stimulus and resources, and well, treating them like kings - another clear indication China's, well at least the CCP has grown in tact in public diplomacy. This article tells of how China has yet another chance to influence the world in a 'good way', but we shall see.

Would be interesting to know the ownership of the Global Times though - the quest begins now. Attempts to navigate to the About Us section failed. I will have to see if it's simple browser capability issues, or more than meets the eye!


China’s diplomacy in a multi-polar world
Opinion - Editor's Choice
Source: Global Times 17 June 2009

In a briefing held a day before the BRIC summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, the Chinese delegation stated that cooperation among the four countries would be open and transparent, no third party would be targeted, and no confrontation would be sought.

It’s a necessary message to the skeptical West, which for the first time found itself left out of a major summit. It is also a pragmatic line that China has to walk in a multi-polar era taking shape faster than we had foreseen.

Scholars are divided in their views on the direction the world is heading as it becomes increasingly multi-polar. Niall Ferguson, a noted historian, predicts that the alternative to a single superpower is the anarchic nightmare of a new Dark Age. Some view the post- US dominated world in a more promising way. US scholar Richard Haass holds that the US can manage the transition and make the world a safer place in the age of non-polarity.

The multi-polar world in the last century was marred by two wars and numerous smaller conflicts, but as economic co-binding among countries has deepened, negotiation has replaced a military approach in many cases to solve conflicts. Ethics have also started to play a stronger role in shaping the world order.

In this context, its pragmatic, low profile diplomatic approach in the past decades has earned China a favorable position on the international stage, and it has accumulated significant political capital over time.

China should spend that political capital wisely, promoting the world’s shift from a single to a multi-polar structure in an orderly manner, maximizing its interest and coordinating with other players to solve regional hot-button issues.

But China has often found itself sandwiched between the powerful West and emerging countries. It is asked by both to play a role outweighing its real power, while in the meantime facing skepticism, distrust and even opposition from both.

Walking the fine line in between and winning acknowledgement from both sides requires a sophisticated diplomacy of balance and great political wisdom.

Given its current strength, exerting influence through multilateral organizations is the best option China has.

The Chinese people should support the government’s moves to exercise pragmatic, effective diplomacy; sometimes that means not pushing the government to be too aggressive in its foreign policy.