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Opinion

Decoding China's foreign policy thru Wang's words

Sitaram Baral

Sitaram Baral

 |  Beijing

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi.

I was at the Media Center in Beijing, just a short walk from the famous Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall. During the press conference held there on March 7, while noting the thoughts and opinions expressed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in my reporting diary, several times I felt like it wasn't the Chinese foreign minister talking in front of me but rather the Foreign Minister of my own country, Nepal, addressing national and international journalists.

This feeling arose because Foreign Minister Wang Yi's views on international affairs, presented in front of journalists gathered from all over the world at the media center, were closely aligned with Nepal's perspectives on international politics and affairs; some were even identical.

During the one-hour long interaction with the journalists, he did not mention Nepal's name anywhere. However, in the context of international politics and relations, when he was publicizing Chinese views, I found 'Nepal' many times in those views.

In the same press conference, a correspondent of a Chinese media referred to the ongoing "Two Sessions" and asked about the Neighborhood Policy to be adopted by China in 2024.

While answering this question, Foreign Minister Wang quoted a Chinese proverb, "A close neighbor is better than a distant neighbor."

Along with the proverb, he also mentioned that China is keenly interested in enhancing relations with all neighboring countries on the basis of peaceful coexistence.

Nepal is one of China’s bordering countries. Therefore, 'Nepal' strongly appeared in this answer. This single sentence also reflected Chinese respect for Nepal. With the mention of this single proverb, Foreign Minister Wang tried to emphasize how important relations with neighbors including Nepal are for China.

Based on 'Panchsheel', Nepal has made the five principles of peaceful coexistence the main basis of its foreign relations. Foreign Minister Wang’s statements reflected that the pillar of China’s foreign policy is also identical to the pillar of Nepal's foreign policy.

Nepal has good relations with all the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. But it also carries a deep desire to see all the five member states of the Security Council having such harmonious relations among themselves.

There is a Nepali saying, “You cannot clap with a single hand.” The same applies to the development of harmonious relations between the two countries. The very first condition of a harmonious relationship between any two nations is mutual respect.

Foreign Minister Wang's answer to the question from Bloomberg’s journalist regarding the Sino-US relationship was also very similar to Nepal's opinion on the relationship between power nations.

Regarding China-US relations, Foreign Minister Wang presented the 'Three Policies' put forward by President Xi Jinping. Among them were mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.

“The China-US relationship concerns the well-being of people from the two countries, the future of humanity, and the world,” Wang said, “No matter how the international landscape changes, China always keeps its US policy stable and consistent, and always handles the China-US relationship with an attitude of being responsible for history, for the people, and for the world.”

Foreign Minister Wang said that since China and the US have different cultures and political systems, mutual respect is a prerequisite for the relationship between the two countries. Furthermore, he mentioned that interaction between the two countries will be possible only through mutual respect while recognizing the diversity of culture and governance methods.

“Specially, mutual respect is the precondition because the two countries have different social systems and political structures. The interaction between the two countries can sustain only by respecting and recognizing the differences. Peaceful coexistence is the bottom line because the consequences of conflict and confrontation between two major countries like China and the US are unimaginable. Win-win cooperation is the goal because only when China and the US combine together, they can accomplish many big things that are beneficial to the two countries and the world,” said Wang Yi.

It may not have been expressed in this way, but this is exactly what Nepal wants in terms of China-US relations.

Additionally, Foreign Minister Wang also reiterated China's explanation that provocations for independence of Taiwan would be equivalent to playing with fire.

Nepal has always considered Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as integral parts of China and simultaneously always been concerned that any move contradictory to this will increase peace and instability in the region.

In my perspective, Foreign Minister Wang's opinion about the importance of the “Global South” in the future world order in the same conference was equally remarkable. He said, “One day, the Global South will be decisive in the world.”

When he said this, I felt as if he was speaking for us and reminding us that Nepal is also an important developing country in the Global South.

This approach advanced by Foreign Minister Wang on behalf of China regarding the rights of the Palestinian people seemed more determined and new to me.

During the Cold War, Nepal did not side with any power and chose to remain non-aligned. It also served as a forefront founder member of the non-alignment movement.

The world order dominated by the Soviet Union and America during the Cold War soon saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, changing the world order and making America the sole superpower.

However, American dominance in a polar world order did not last long. Now China has become a country close to America in all respects. Apart from that, more than half a dozen countries have emerged as regional powers. There is no doubt that they are also capable of becoming world powers in the future.

Over the past few decades, the world system has been changing from bipolar to unipolar and is now slowly transitioning to a multipolar system. However, the unipolar system remains the biggest upheaval in the world system. From the United Nations to other world-class organizations, only a limited number of countries hold massive power while others still struggle to be seen and heard.

Such a world system is neither suitable for the current situation nor compatible with the current needs. Regardless of whether a country is big or small, poor or rich, has a strong military or not, all countries should have equal status and share in the future world system.

Nepal also holds the same opinion. "We want equal participation of all countries in the future world system," Foreign Minister Wang said at a press conference. It felt like he spoke for all the small, developing, and peace-loving countries like Nepal that struggle to be heard in the world arena. "No matter how small, all countries should have an equal place in the future multipolar world system, and this matter should be clearly mentioned in the Charter of the United Nations."

In the same press conference, an Egyptian journalist asked a question about Israel's attack on Gaza under the pretext of eliminating Hamas: "How can the Palestinian people be relieved in this situation?"

While answering, Foreign Minister Wang reiterated the five points of the policy paper put forward by President Xi Jinping on November 30, 2023, for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. These include a ceasefire and an end to conflict, the protection of civilian lives, the provision of humanitarian aid, the enhancement of diplomatic mediation, and the pursuit of a political solution—it also includes the recognition of a separate Palestinian state.

The language and method of publicizing the position and perspective on this conflict might be different between China and Nepal. However, there is no doubt that Nepal's policy is noticeably consistent with this policy advanced by China in terms of Israel-Palestine conflict resolution.

Nepal has always advocated for the right to live in a peaceful way and for a separate state for the Palestinian people.

Foreign Minister Wang expressed an indifferent opinion, stating, "The Palestinian people also have the right to live. It is necessary for the international community to play a role of a mediator in resolving the conflict and ending the war," he said, adding, “A Palestinian state with full membership of the United Nations is the only proper solution to the conflict; no country should obstruct it.

This approach advanced by Foreign Minister Wang on behalf of China regarding the rights of the Palestinian people seemed more determined and new to me.

“Even though Nepal's name was not pronounced in thee conference, why did I find 'Nepal' in each of Foreign Minister Wang's answers?” This question kept 'striking' my mind while returning from the media center to my temporary residence Jianwai Diplomatic Residential Compound.

While searching for an answer, I searched on the Internet for my previous articles I had written about Foreign Minister Wang's Nepal “connection” when I was in Kathmandu.

The articles revived his admiration for Nepal ever since he was the Foreign Minister in 2013, and even before that when he was a Deputy Foreign Minister and Assistant Minister. The articles also reminded me of his role in President Xi’s historic visit to Nepal back in October 2019.

In addition, I searched on the Internet about the basic aspects or characteristics of Chinese foreign policy. And from a short study, I came to the conclusion that the fundamental aspect of Chinese foreign policy is not inequality, but equality. It's not oppression, but justice. Not war, but peace. Not to create any problem but to find a solution right when any problem is created. It is not to give any wound to someone else but to share the medicine.

All this made me realize that the basic aspects or characteristics of the foreign policy of both Nepal and China are the same. Thus, even when Foreign Minister Wang didn't pronounce the word ‘Nepal’, I continue finding 'Nepal' in his every answer.



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