You are here : Home > Articles > Focus

Scholars hail ’good-neighbor’ diplomacy

Author: Silver Editor Source: Chinese Social Sciences TodayTime :2014-10-27 13:37:27


  When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Korea earlier this month, he ushered in what scholars labeled as a “new era of good-neighbor diplomacy.”

  “I’m paying this state visit to South Korea at the invitation of President Park Geun-hye, but I’m also dropping in on my neighbors and seeing my friends. China and South Korea are good neighbors whose friendship is more valuable than gold,” said Xi in his July 4 speech at Seoul National University (SNU) during his maiden visit to South Korea since taking office.

  Since Sino-South Korean diplomatic relations were established 22 years ago, however, ties between the two countries have at times been on shaky ground.

  “Before Park came to power, the Sino-South Korean strategic cooperative partnership was not substantive in terms of political security,” said Zhang Yunling, director of the Academic Division of International Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and deputy-director of the China-Republic of Korea Friendship Association.

  “After she assumed office, great importance was attached to cooperating with China and new opportunities have arisen for cooperation between the two nations. Bolstered by Park’s visit to China last year, bilateral relations have been continuously improving,” Zhang added.

  Zhang noted that both countries strongly advocate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and oppose Japanese right-wing forces. Consensus on both issues has led the China-South Korea relationship to enter its “best-ever period,” he added.

  “During Xi’s visit, a statement issued by both sides considerably enriched the content of the China-South Korea strategic cooperative partnership,” Zhang said.

  “In the joint statement, both leaders pledged to finalize a free-trade agreement by the end of this year and agreed to hold negotiations over maritime demarcation in 2015,” said Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for Korean Studies under the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University.

  The timetable manifests the sincerity of the two countries in seeking common ground while reserving differences, heralding a new diplomatic model for good neighborly relations.

  China has been South Korea’s largest trade partner for several consecutive years, with both sides looking to enhance cooperation in this field.

  Zhou Fangyin, a professor at the Guangdong Research Institute for International Studies, said a deal inked by central banks of both countries to set up a renminbi (RMB) clearing service in Seoul also plays an exemplary role for the international community because it can facilitate bilateral trade, lower transaction costs and reduce risks posed by dollar exchange rate fluctuations.

  After South Korean enterprises benefit from the deal, other countries can follow the example and subsequently lift the international status of the RMB, he said.

  Zhang hailed the significance of “harmony in diversity,” a traditional Chinese philosophy, in China’s endeavors to develop good relations with neighboring countries and help thaw frosty ones between others.

  While capitalizing on Oriental wisdom in diplomatic activities, China emphasizes adherence to the “correct concept of morality and interests.” Xi proposed this position during his Africa tour in March 2013, and reiterated it during his South Korea visit.

  “‘Correct concept of morality and interests’ entails taking both morality and interests into account in foreign affairs. Oriental wisdom stresses tampering force with mercy, while Western diplomacy features a linear and hegemonic mindset,” explained Qu Xing, former director of the China Institute of International Studies.

  “Only by giving consideration to morality and interests can we gain both, and only by striking a balance between the two can we win both,” said Xi in his speech at SNU.

  “Asia belongs to the people of Asia and to the world, so the development of Asia cannot be divorced from the world and vice versa,” he added.

  Zhang said Xi’s remarks reflect the reality that Asian people will address their regional security issues, but noted this doesn’t support claims of so-called Asian Monroeism made by Western media.

  “Oriental wisdom” values peace and harmony, Zhang noted, adding that China has exemplified both in fostering “good-neighbor” diplomacy with South Korea.


  The Chinese version appeared in Chinese Social Sciences Today, No. 617, July 7, 2014.

  The Chinese link: 


  Translated by Chen Mirong

  Revised by Tom Fearon

Scholars hail ’good-neighbor’ diplomacy