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"Xiplomacy": the "three concentric circles" of chinese diplomacy

Aggiornamento: 5 apr 2023

Focus on chinese diplomacy

G Iuvinale

On March 31, President Xi Jinping met with Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

An official from Beijing's foreign affairs ministry told CPC news agency Xinhua that China's diplomatic relations can be divided into three concentric circles:

  • bilateral relations

  • regional relations

  • global relationships

Bilateral relations

This year is of great significance for China's relations with Spain, Malaysia and Singapore.

2023 is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain. In early March, President Xi Jinping also exchanged congratulatory messages with King Felipe VI of Spain on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain.

During the meeting, Xi Jinping summed up the experience of developing China-Spain relations over the past half century with the words

"adhere to mutual respect, exchange and dialogue, and actively carry out mutually beneficial cooperation."

Xi stressed that "the two sides should insist on planning bilateral relations from a strategic height and long-term perspective", "build bilateral relations with strategic strength", "strengthen the engagement of development strategies and leverage the potential of cooperation", "doing a good job in Chinese and Western culture and tourism. Annual activities to promote dialogue and exchanges between the world's civilizations."

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Malaysia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and next year will be the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

This trip to China is Prime Minister Anwar's first visit to China after taking office. During this visit, the two sides reached a consensus on jointly building a Sino-Malaysia community with a shared future, which will certainly open a new chapter in the history of bilateral relations.

Among Southeast Asian countries, Singapore has the deepest participation in China's reform and opening up and the closest integration with Beijing's interests. Indeed, Xi Jinping described the relationship between the two countries as "far-sighted, strategic and exemplary", and that relationship has also set a benchmark for the countries in the region, Xinhua said.

Xi has also targeted New Zealand. Indeed, Xi stressed that China is willing to strengthen strategic communication with New Zealand, deepen strategic docking, and make "high quality" the most distinctive symbol of China-New Zealand cooperation.

Regional relations

Spain is a member of the European Union, and Malaysia and Singapore are neighbors of China and members of ASEAN. During the three meetings, Xi Jinping spoke about the cooperation between China and the affected regions from different angles.

As for the EU, Xi Jinping says that in order to develop China-EU relations well, there is a prerequisite, which is that the EU must insist on strategic autonomy. This is exactly what Xi Jinping has emphasized in his many meetings with European leaders.

The purpose is clear: to keep the EU as far away from the US as possible so that Beijing can exert greater diplomatic and economic influence on the EU and to try to reopen the dialogue on the currently interrupted EU/China global partnership.
Xi meets Spanish PM

Spain will assume the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of this year. Xi Jinping stressed that he hopes Spain will play a positive role in promoting China-EU dialogue and cooperation.

During the meeting with the leaders of two ASEAN countries, regional cooperation is an important part of President Xi Jinping's speech.

During the meeting with Prime Minister Anwar, President Xi Jinping "stressed that China is willing to work with Malaysia to promote Asian civilization, adhere to strategic

Xi meets Malaysian PM

independence, adhere to the original intention of East Asian cooperation, uphold the centrality of ASEAN, resolutely resist the cold mentality of war and confrontation of the field,

and work together to build a common home".

Meeting with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, Xi Jinping stressed that "one should appreciate and maintain the good hard-won development momentum in the Asian region, jointly safeguard the regional peace dividends, and maintain the correct direction of economic globalization and regional

economic integration." Xi meets Singaporean PM

Global relationships

In March, Xi's global diplomatic activity was particularly intense.

Xi Jinping met with a number of visiting foreign leaders, participated in the high-level dialogue between the Communist Party of China and the world's political parties, delivered a keynote speech, and was invited to hold a state visit to Russia. China has facilitated the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There was the China Development Forum Annual Conference 2023, the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023.

In every high-level meeting, Xi mentioned "Chinese-style modernization" many times and stressed "the global importance of comprehensively promoting the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through Chinese-style modernization."

During the meeting, the three foreign leaders also addressed the issue of peace in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Sanchez spoke positively of China's position paper on the political solution of the Ukrainian crisis, expressing appreciation for China's constructive role in the political solution of the Ukrainian crisis.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar said "President Xi Jinping is a great statesman with worldwide influence".

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "Singapore advocates that countries should respect each other, coexist peacefully, cooperate for mutual benefit, avoid conflicts, and jointly face risks and challenges."

European heavyweights head to Beijing

Two European leaders are headed to Beijing this week for talks with President Xi Jinping, and the meet-and-greet could not come at a more awkward time in EU-China relations.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Xi on Wednesday in a bid to convey that European ties with China are contingent on Beijing backing away from his mate Vladimir Putin.

As agreed between China and the European Union, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will visit China from April 5 to 7, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning announced on Monday.

In a sign of the EU’s current thinking on China, von der Leyen last week gave a scolding 40-minute speech where she accused Beijing of “becoming more repressive at home and more assertive abroad.” And in a move that likely infuriated both Moscow and Beijing, she claimed that China is using Putin’s apparent international isolation to gain leverage with Russia. Unsurprisingly, China hit back, saying the EU chief’s speech had “no coherence” and was in part aimed at appeasing the United States.

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron will pay a state visit to China from April 5 to 7, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Monday.

Macron, facing a dumpster fire of a political situation at home, has said that the aim of the trip is to present a united European front against China’s “no-limits” friendship with the Kremlin.

Still, both sides will likely tread carefully in order to preserve their respective economic interests, with daily two-way trade in goods coming in at a whopping €1.9 billion ($2 billion).

China Responds to Tsai’s US Visit

On Wednesday, March 29, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen landed in New York. She was promptly greeted by an entourage of diplomats, including American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chair Laura Rosenberger and Taiwan Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim. The next day, she toured a number of Taiwan-friendly businesses in New York, quietly met with US House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and then received the Hudson Institute’s Global Leadership Award.

By April 1, Tsai was in Guatemala. She is slated to return to Taiwan via Los Angeles — but Tsai will not be giving a formal address at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, as was previously reported. And according to Bloomberg, in Los Angeles Tsai will meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by US House Representative Mike Gallagher, as well as several tech and entertainment executives.

The PRC’s official government organs and netizen commentariat have been busy.

From the Taiwan Affairs Office, spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian gave a statement on March 29:

DPP authorities, out of their political self-interest in scheming for “independence,” have manufactured various excuses and taken advantage of various opportunities to engage in “independence” activities. The so-called “transit” of the Taiwanese leader is a provocative action which, fundamentally, seeks independence by relying on America, attempting to create “one China, one Taiwan,” “two China,” etc. violations of the one China principle. It is also an opportunity to peddle the Taiwan independence viewpoint on the international stage and seek the support of American anti-China forces. Tsai Ing-wen’s “transit” is not [merely] a layover or hotel stop, but rather, by using various labels, is a way to contact US government officials and members of Congress, conduct US-Taiwan official discourse, and collude with external anti-China forces. If she engages with US Speaker McCarthy, it would be yet another serious violation of the one China principle and harm China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, [as well as being] a provocation that disrupts peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We resolutely oppose this, and will inevitably adopt firm measures to fight back.
The next day, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning said,The Chinese side resolutely opposes any form of US-Taiwan government intercourse; resolutely opposes the leader of the Taiwan region — under any name or for any reason — running away to America; resolutely opposes any official contact between the US government and the Taiwan side. … [The US and Taiwan’s “collusion”] proves yet again that the root cause of the new round of tension in the Taiwan Strait is the Taiwan authorities’ repeated attempts to seek independence via relying on America, as well as [exposes] that some on the American side deliberately promote “using Taiwan to control China”.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning

The same day, March 30, Huang Ping, the Chinese Consul General in New York, wrote,

The Chinese people have the right to ask: Why does the American side, regarding the Ukraine issue, yak about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, but when it comes to China’s Taiwan issue [the US] doesn’t respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? Why [does the US] demand China not provide weapons to Russia, while for a long time — [and] in violation of the August 17 Communique — [they have] sold arms to Taiwan? Why [does the US] say again and again to safeguard regional peace and stability, while simultaneously secretly formulating a so-called “destroy Taiwan” plan? [Ed. Such a plan was fake news — see Chris Horton’s excellent coverage of the saga.]
… If Speaker McCarthy doesn’t learn the lesson from previous Speaker Pelosi’s mistakes and ignores the international community’s broad support for the one China principle, [he] will undoubtedly make the same mistake again and further damage [the US-PRC] relationship.

And finally, on Friday, March 31, Mao Ning gave another press conference, where she repeated the usual before adding:

The fact is, this once again proves that the “transit” of Taiwan authorities and its leader to America is a sham — [they] are, in reality, seeking a “breakthrough" and publicizing “Taiwan independence.” What I want to emphasize: no matter what the Taiwan authorities say or do, it will not change the reality that Taiwan is a part of China. No one, no force can stop China from fulfilling unification.

If you are interested in understanding Xi Jinping's China you can buy this book:

La Cina di Xi Jinping - Verso un nuovo ordine mondiale sinocentrico? Gabriele e Nicola Iuvinale ASE 2023 Amazon: 👇 Antonio Stango Editore 👇 To download the book index, preface and introduction:

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