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Zhang Baijia: Changes of China’s Diplomatic Concepts in the Past 70 Years


How to evaluate the interaction between China and the world in the 70 years after the foundation of People’s Republic of China? On July 4, Professor Zhang Baijia, former deputy director of Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, was invited to deliver a lecture and review the changes of diplomatic concepts in the past 70 years.

Professor Zhang said that development of 70 years’ diplomatic concepts has demonstrated how the Chinese people can re-recognize itself, understand the world after gaining a new life through Chinese Revolution and get along with other countries. After entering the 21st century, China has become an emerging power which has attracted most attention from the world. It is required to develop brand-new ideas in the new era, to sum up historical experience and lessons and to bring forth new ideas from historical accumulation.

Chinese Revolution in the first half of the 20th century had an enormous and profound impact on New China's diplomacy. In the process of Chinese Revolution, the Communist Party of China accumulated diplomatic experience and formed some fundamental diplomatic concepts. The first stage of New China's diplomacy, especially its initial exploration and practice, had a close relationship with the basic tasks of the Chinese Revolution and was deeply influenced by the diplomatic concepts formed during Chinese Revolution.

As to the second stage, the background of the New China's diplomacy is reform and opening-up. At this stage, it is the beginning to observe the world with a developing and global perspective with the changes of diplomatic concepts. On the basis of summing up past experiences and lessons, the concept changed combining with the actual needs in politics and economy. After reform and opening-up, the expansion of vision and the change of ideas have an active interaction with the adjustment of foreign policy, the change of external structure, the improvement of the overall national strength and international status, which have become a continuous process.


Because of the policies of reform and opening up, China has developed into the most eye-catching emerging power. China has an unprecedentedly close and complex relationship with the outside world. China has entered into a phase with tightening external environment, which is a necessary stage for the rise of a major Power. This trend will continue for a long time which began in the 1990s.

Now, when countries around the world are ready to judge the situation, they first refer to China and then decide their own policies. Facing this change, it is important to change or adjust our model of thinking.


As a rising super-large power, China's development will inevitably have a certain impact on the existing world order. And China will have some contradictions and frictions with the big countries and neighboring countries. However, the trend of history and the reality of international environment have determined that China cannot repeat the path of the rise of great power in the past. Nor can it imitate the diplomacy of the great nations characterized by power politics in the past.


Now China is willing to take responsibilities as a big country under the current difficulties of international political and economic development. At the same time, it is noted that China's coordination with the outside world must be linked to internal reform and opening up.

Objectively speaking, China has become a variable with important influence in international relations, and the pattern of China’s interaction with the world has also changed. When analyzing the international situation, we were accustomed to thinking international situation firstly, and analyzing the external situation and then determining our own policies. Now, the situation is reversed. When other countries judge the international situation, China policies will offer references to their political decisions. With these changes, thinking models shall be adjusted or changed. There are three main points:


It is necessary to view the world from the perspective of China and to think the China after observing the world, so that an objective assessment of the situation and its status can be made. At the same time, policy making must be forward-looking, and can accurately predict the external world's response to internal changes and external behavior.

It is critical to have own sense that China has a long way to grow from an emerging power to a mature power. As an emerging power, China still needs to achieve modernization and complete national reunification. It also needs to further accumulate experience in the game of big countries.


When handling the international relations, China must have clear objectives and paths, and especially balance goals, strengths and approaches. The world has entered a new stage of multi-party games, and competition and cooperation among countries, especially among major powers, will be carried out in an unprecedented diversified manner. China must make full preparation to deal with various situations and strive for the best possible with a bottom-line thought. Make sure that the right strategy and sufficient determination, and meticulous diplomatic operations should not be rough. The important point is to maintain policy flexibility and leave room for a difficult situation.

The current complicated international situation is a test of China's diplomatic strength and provides an opportunity for China to show its diplomatic features. China will continue to unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, build the Community of common destiny for all mankind, actively implement the "Belt and Road" and promote the all-round development of relations with all parties. China is willing to assume the responsibility of a responsible big country. And it must also be noted that China's coordination with the outside world must be linked to internal reform and opening up.

Key Words: China   diplomacy   lecture   RDCY  

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