Mainland declares desire for stability
The mainland premier's annual report to the National People's Congress always contains an analysis of world affairs, on the basis of which China formulates its foreign policy.
There was a time when the world as seen by Beijing was dominated by two opposing camps. China belonged to the socialist countries, bound together in brotherhood by their common ideology and ready to support socialist revolution in any part of the world. Their arch-enemy was the United States, head of the imperialist camp.
Later the Soviet Union became revisionist and chauvinist. Troubles all over the world were mainly caused by the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, competing against one another for global supremacy.
China put the two superpowers together and called them the 'first world'. They were enemies of all people, especially people in the developing countries, which formed the 'third world'.
Third world countries, including China, had to stand together to protect themselves against domination. They also had to unite with the people of the 'second world', the developed countries other than the two superpowers.
The world has changed drastically since the late 1980s.
However, mainland Premier Li Peng still distinguishes between three groups of countries when discussing China's foreign relations in his report this year.
China is no longer interested in supporting 'the people's revolution' in far-away places. Nor is there any imminent fear of war started by a superpower. The mainland needs a long-lasting peaceful environment to accomplish its ambitious goals for economic development.
Its greatest concern is therefore to strengthen peaceful and friendly ties with surrounding countries. Among them Russia comes first. China has signed a treaty with Russia establishing what is called a strategic co-operative partnership between the two countries that will extend into the next century.
Friendly agreements have also been reached with the ASEAN countries, India, and other nations throughout Asia.
Not surprisingly, relations with the two Koreas are described rather vaguely. The report only claims the mainland government has always been anxious to see a stable situation on the Korean peninsular, and has made efforts to help maintain it.
Unity and co-operation are the words used for relations with developing countries. Co-operation is seen mainly in terms of economics and trade, but in order to protect their common interests, developing countries should also unite and work together on various international issues.
For Western countries, China can only talk of improving mutual relations.This is of benefit to both sides, says the premier, and is only possible if differences and disagreements on certain issues do not become obstacles.
China is quite satisfied with its fruitful contacts with European countries. As for the United States, Beijing's relationship with Washington has taken some big twists and turns, according to the premier, but there are signs now of improvement.
Japan is deliberately left out of the list of surrounding countries with whom China wants to maintain friendly ties. The love-hate relationship with this neighbour in the east is discussed with a conspicuous lack of warmth: 'There have been obstructions in [the] Sino-Japanese relationship. We are willing to see normal development of relations between the two countries.' And what about Britain? The name does not appear once in the whole report, not even in the exceptionally long paragraph about Hong Kong.