The Chinese government has listed its “handling of the Indian border troops trespass” in Doklam as among its six major diplomatic achievements of 2017.
“China’s Foreign Affairs 2018”, an official diplomatic record published by the Department of Policy Planning of the Foreign Ministry and described by Foreign Minister Wang Yi as an “authoritative” guide on China’s “analysis of the major changes” in the world, presents an official overview of China’s diplomacy in 2017 and Beijing’s view of the world in the previous year.
The book’s second chapter, which focuses on China’s diplomacy, lists six major “breakthroughs” in diplomacy in the past year under the Xi Jinping government, the sixth of which was that Beijing “firmly safeguarded national sovereignty and lawful interests”. “China handled the Indian border troops’ trespass into its Donglang area peacefully through diplomatic means, upholding its territorial sovereignty while making sure that China-India relations stay on the right track,” it said.
The first of the achievements was the “blueprint” for Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative and hosting of the Belt and Road Forum in May 2017. The second was that China emerged as a defender of globalisation, the book said.
Beijing’s “stable” major country relations was the third. Here, it refers to relations with the United States, Russia and the EU as “major country” relationships-which appear to be the three topmost diplomatic priorities. It noted the Xi-Trump summit at Mar-a-Lago from a relatively calm period in ties before this year’s trade war. The neighbourhood – where it refers to relations with ASEAN, Japan, the Koreas, Afghanistan and Myanmar – is the fourth, while China’s hosting of the BRICS summit in Hangzhou was the fifth major initiative.
The sixth, the book said, was that Beijing had “firmly guarded national sovereignty and lawful interests”. Top of this section was the Doklam incident, while it also referred to “upholding the one China principle” by establishing diplomatic ties with Panama – which became the latest country to cut ties with Taiwan.
India also figures in the section on the year’s major diplomatic events, which includes the 20th round of border talks held in December in Delhi. The book only records events in 2017, and predates the Wuhan rapprochement. It notes an agreement at the border talks between NSA Ajit Doval and then State Councilor Yang Jiechi that both sides needed to “step up communication and coordination and properly handle relevant boundary disputes to maintain peace and tranquility in border areas”.
The book’s first chapter is devoted to analysing the international trends of 2017, and concludes that Asia grew steadily but faced a challenge of “trade protectionism from the US and Europe”. On the major “destabilising” risks, it listed the Korean peninsula which faced “ever more risks” and “occasional incidents” in the South China Sea, which it said generally remained calm.
The analysis saw two major risks to the west- the Rohingya issue in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and what it described as “the fragile India Pakistan relationship”.
It also noted the growing India-US convergence in South Asia and Trump’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy, observing that the US “strengthened its strategic partnership with India and encouraged this country to play a bigger role in Afghanistan”. The US had earlier, it noted, “hosted Prime Minister Modi in a high profile way”.