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Opinion\From the Press

Review and prospects of China's diplomacy

By Wang Xiaohui | | Updated: 2017-01-04 13:08

Review and prospects of China's diplomacy

Wang Xiaohui, editor-in-chief of

The year 2016 was eventful both to China and other countries. In addition to growing regional conflicts and incessant terrorist attacks, the presidential election of the United States, the exit of Great Britain from the EU, disputes over South Chinese Sea islands between China and the Philippines and the deployment of U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea have all added to the uncertainty of international politics and world order and posed great challenges to China's diplomatic work. As Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi put it, the year 2016 could be summed up with two words - "changes" and "chaos."


I. Chinese-U.S. ties remained stable but eventful.

Ties between China and the United States remained stable in 2016 despite various incidents. After President Obama's visit to Beijing and the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the two countries have strengthened strategic communication, built mutual trust and dispersed doubts, thus ensuring a sound development of ties. But strategic doubts still remain, especially where geopolitics, territorial sovereignty and economic interests are concerned. The South China Sea disputes between China and the Philippines, in which Washington had played a behind-the-scenes role, and the deployment of the U.S. THAAD system in South Korea are just two cases in point.

Since Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States, Chinese-U.S. relations have shown worrisome signs. On Dec. 2, Trump talked with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen on the phone. Despite explanations by the President-elect himself and the White House's spokesperson afterwards, the call cast a shadow over bilateral ties, as such a thing hadn't happened in the 37 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties. Moreover, Trump's cabinet picks and their attitudes toward China also indicated that the development of bilateral relations will face great pressure from the White House in the future.

II. Frequent "black swan" events affected the world.

A lot of events happened in 2016 that were unexpected and had a major impact on the world. They made the world even more uncertain and are highly likely to change the progress of international politics.

Trump's surprise win in the U.S. presidential election, the shock of Brexit and the following resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the final resignation of scandal-embattled South Korean president Park Geun-hye, the resignations of the prime ministers of New Zealand and Italy on the same day and the assassination of Russian ambassador in Turkey are just a few of the major "black swan" events from last year.

What will happen to the United States after its businessman-cum-president assumes office with his team of billionaires? Will there be another round of trade wars with China? Besides the jitters in the financial market, what impact will Brexit and Italy's referendum leave on an already struggling E.U.? The changes of state leaders in the United States, Brazil, Britain, South Korea, Italy, Thailand, New Zealand and many other countries will surely affect world politics.

III. Philippines' U-turn towards China after the South China Sea arbitration case.

The arbitration of the South China Sea disputes, which was initiated unilaterally by former Filipino president Benigno S. Aquino III, the United States, Japan and a handful of other third-party countries, had a deep impression on the Chinese people last year, as it started on the first day of the Chinese lunar new year and ended in July with an illegal and void ruling.

During the process, China showed strong political power and responded skillfully.

When Rodrigo Duterte assumed office as the new Filipino president on June 30, the realistic man didn't inherent the negative political baggage left behind by his predecessor, but made the wise choice to choose China as the first country to visit outside the ASEAN region, thus mending ties with China.

The gradual return to stability in the South China Sea and the restoration of Chinese-Filipino relations will lay a foundation for solving the South China Sea issue through talks and joint development. It's also vitally important to promoting a peaceful environment for China's development. This event will go down in history.

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