China looking to be more active in regional, global diplomacy
A Chinese security official keeps watch during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Gerry Shih and Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, March 8, 2018 2:20AM EST
BEIJING - China wants an eight-nation group it and Russia have dominated for its two-decade existence to be more active in regional and global diplomacy and will push to facilitate that at the group's next summit, foreign minister Wang Yi said Thursday
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has a "bounden duty to maintain peace and stability in our region and beyond," Wang told reporters at a news conference held on the fringes of the ceremonial legislature's annual meeting.
He said China would work with the other members to help the group "meet international expectations, take a clearer stand on major international and regional issues and play a more active role in regional co-operation and global economic governance."
China will host the SCO summit in the port of Qingdao in June.
The group also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan, and China has sought to use it to ensure security along its Central Asian border, for example, by holding joint anti-terrorism exercises.
In international affairs, however, it has been a relative lightweight, and the new emphasis announced by Wang is in keeping with a Chinese push to broaden its global footprint with mega-projects such as the trillion-dollar Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Wang also emphasized what he called the key role played in China's more pro-active foreign policy by President Xi Jinping, who is likely to remain leader indefinitely after the legislature lifts presidential term limits.
"Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has been the chief architect of China's major country diplomacy. He was personally involved in the planning and conduct of head of state diplomacy, which by world acclaim has been brilliant," Wang said.
Xi has visited 57 countries and received a more than 110 foreign heads of state, Wang said, citing Xi's "leadership and charisma."
Those visits and meetings that "go a long way toward deepening the world's understanding of China, enhancing China's profile and influence, and facilitating the solution of many global problems," he said.
On the Korean Peninsula, Wang claimed success for China's proposal for a "dual suspension" of North Korean nuclear activities in return for a suspension of South Korea-U.S. war games.
"This proves that China's proposal of suspension for suspension was the right prescription for the problem and created basic conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations," Wang said. Pyongyang's security concerns should be addressed in return for a pledge to denuclearize, he said.
Wang also indicated he expects more countries would cut formal ties with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory. China has been steadily increasing political, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan to force President Tsai Ing-wen to endorse its contention that the self-governing island democracy is a part of China.
"To establish diplomatic relations with the government of the People's Republic of China that is the sole legal government to represent all China and conduct normal co-operation is apparently a right choice that conforms to the tide of times," Wang said.