Site Search :
·China Inaugurates Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington
Rising Logistics Demand amid Warming Economy
·Chinese President Meets Olympic Chief Thomas Bach
·Coffee in Paradise
·Shen Yaoyi’s Long March Classic Fetches US $6.4 Million
·Exploring the Deep Sea
·Daya Bay Pearl of the South China Sea
·Riverside Romance in Central Anhui
·Into the Wild – Hiking through Qizang Valley
·Chinese Economy: On the Path of Scientific Development
·China's Economy over the Last Ten Years
·Private Investment Encouraged to
Promote Mixed Ownership Economy
·The “Nationwide Sport System” Needs Urgent Reform
·The Change One Man Can Make
·On the Pulse of the National Economy
Around Chinamore
·Guizhou Mapping Out Its Road Network – An Interview with Cheng Mengren, Transport Chief of the Guizhou Provincial Government
·Innovative Nanchang
·Scientists Uncover Causes of Mass Extinction in the Ashes
Special Report  
New Developments in China's Relationship with Its Surrounding Countries


CHINA is one of the countries in the world with the most neighbors. Its 9.6 million sq km land area encompasses land borders with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea, totaling 22,000 km in length. China's mainland coastline extends more than 18,000 km, bordering and overlapping the territorial waters of Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. China also maintains close relations with countries not on its immediate borders, such as Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh.

The countries surrounding China refer to those in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Central Asia that neighbor it either on land or on its territorial sea. They also include those adjacent, although not on its borders, with whom China has a close relationship.

Diverse Neighbors, Significant Relations

The total area of China and its surrounding countries amounts to 30 million sq km, accounting for nearly half of the Eurasian Continent. These countries have contrasting national conditions with regards to size of territory and extent of development. They include capitalist and socialist states, as well as those in the throes of political and economic transformation. All display enormous differences in language and culture.

Since the 1980s, these surrounding countries have played a growingly important role in China's diplomacy. During the early 1990s, relations with them were just one facet of those among China and other nations. It was in 1997 at the 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that China accorded full significance to "a good surrounding environment" in bringing about a peaceful international environment. At the 16th National Congress of the CPC in 2002, China confirmed the primacy of relations with its surrounding countries. It moreover raised the policy of "building friendship and partnership with neighboring countries," and formulated the guiding principles wherein relations with great powers are key; those with the immediate periphery all-important; those with developing countries constitute the foundation; and multilateral relations are main arenas. The huge variations in national conditions of China's surrounding countries make its relations with them crucial to the country's diplomacy.

Relations between China and countries in its vicinity are generally good. China makes efforts to link its interests with theirs, treating them as friends and partners with whom to cooperate in advancing common development. Since the beginning of the 1990s, China has established diverse partnerships with Russia, Japan, India, Pakistan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal and certain groups of states that signify its intent to improve and develop relations with them. As none of these countries is hostile towards China, such partnerships reinforce and stabilize China's immediate security situation.

There is consensus in the international community that certain prickly issues exist in East Asia, among them that of the Taiwan Strait, the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, disputes in the South China Sea and to some extent also in the East China Sea. They have existed around China's mainland since the end of the Cold War, and have been kept under control for more than two decades. Owing mainly to China's restraint and efforts over the years, they have not developed into large-scale conflicts.

Growing Economic and Trade Relations

Fast developing economic and trade ties highlight China's relations with its surrounding countries. In 2011, ASEAN, Japan, South Korea and Russia ranked among China's top 10 trading partners, and India the 11th. Trade between China and Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries has displayed the most spectacular growth. In 2011, that between China and Japan reached US $350 billion, as compared to just US $1 billion in 1972. Bilateral trade between China and South Korea also soared from US $5 billion in 1992, when the two countries established diplomatic relations, to US $213.9 billion in 2011. China is now South Korea's largest trading partner, export market and source of imports. Upon establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in 1991, China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume stood at just US $8.4 billion. Two decades later, trade volume between them has multiplied to US $362.9 billion, surpassing that with Japan to make ASEAN China's third largest trading partner.

China is at the same time the biggest trading partner of Japan, India, Russia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Mongolia. The country's investment in its surrounding countries and regions continues to expand.

Since the launch of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, and especially since the new millennium, China has witnessed remarkable development in trade relations with its surrounding countries. These extraordinary achievements, attributable to a good neighborly policy, would not be possible but for China's willingness to cooperate, its sustained efforts at governmental and non-governmental levels, and diplomatic commitment to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

1   2   next page  

VOL.59 NO.12 December 2010 Advertise on Site Contact Us