Chinese President Xi Jinping recently held a high-level meeting on foreign affairs where he urged Chinese diplomats to forge an “iron army” to defend the country’s interests on the world stage. His remarks come at a time of rising tensions between China and Western nations.
Xi Demands Stronger Diplomacy to Counter “Power Politics”
In a speech to Chinese diplomats, Xi Jinping stressed the need to “break new ground” in diplomacy and “resolutely uphold” China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. He said China is facing an increasingly unstable and uncertain world, with rising power politics, hegemonism and neo-interventionism.
“We must resolutely uphold our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, break new ground in major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and make new, even greater contributions to humanity,” Xi said.
Xi called for strengthening coordination and communication with other nations to form the “broadest possible consensus”. However, he made clear that China will push back firmly against any threats to its interests.
“When it comes to principles concerning our sovereignty, security and development interests, we will mount a determined response,” Xi asserted.
Building a “Diplomatic Iron Army”
Painting the current geopolitical landscape as highly complex with rising risks, Xi demanded Chinese diplomats to enhance their “fighting spirit” and build an elite diplomatic corps.
“We must maintain a fighting spirit and strengthen our ability to struggle,” Xi told senior diplomats, members of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission and officials from regional bureaus.
He used the metaphor of “diplomatic iron army” to call for a contingent of top-notch diplomats ready to defend China’s national interests and defeat various “perverse actions” by hostile forces.
“We must establish a diplomatic iron army that faithfully struggles for the Party and the people,” Xi declared.
|Key Points from Xi’s Remarks
|Defend sovereignty, security and development interests
|Counter power politics and neo-interventionism
|Forge broadest possible consensus
|Enhance fighting spirit of diplomats
|Build elite “diplomatic iron army”
This theme of strengthening diplomacy to meet global challenges and safeguard national interests was a key focus during the foreign affairs meeting chaired by Xi.
Pushing Back Against US-led Blocs
In the backdrop of Xi’s call for robust diplomacy is China’s tensions with the United States and American efforts to rally allies against Beijing.
China has been critical of platforms like the Quad (US, India, Australia, Japan) and AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) which it sees as attempts to contain its rise. Xi’s diplomatic iron army is partly meant to counter such blocs.
“The world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation,” Xi said, adding that “global challenges have become unprecedentedly grave and complicated.”
His remarks indicate that tensions between China and the West could escalate going forward. Xi looks determined to push back strongly in the diplomatic sphere even as economic inter-dependence deepens.
Gearing Up for Crucial Year Ahead
2023 is shaping up to be a significant year for China, politically and economically. It marks the halfway point of Xi’s second term. Key Party meetings are lined up to cement his continued leadership.
Major events like the 20th Party Congress anniversary and visits by world leaders for the Belt and Road summit will put the international spotlight on Beijing.
This makes it an important year for China to shore up its global narrative and influence. An assertive foreign policy backed by robust diplomacy will be crucial to achieve Xi’s great rejuvenation goals amidst growing backlash.
Xi Jinping’s call for China’s diplomats to struggle against hostile forces signals an increasingly defiant stance vis-a-vis the West. It ties in with his vision of national rejuvenation driven by the Communist Party.
While the US and its allies are strengthening coordination to balance China’s rise, Beijing is gearing up for sustained tensions by mobilizing its foreign policy machinery.
Much will depend on whether economic inter-dependence can temper geopolitical rivalry. But Xi’s “fighting spirit” talk suggests nerves of steel on core interests, portending a turbulent phase ahead.
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