China responded proactively to a world troubled by a spreading financial crisis and regional instabilities last year, and will be expected to deal with more uncertainties in the coming year, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a year-end review posted on the ministry's website on Monday.
Yang (pictured) said the international situation 'had undergone very deep and complex changes' last year and despite overall peace, fluctuations were prominent and 'changes in international relations and international order have sped up'.
He said some of the main trends last year were the deepening financial crisis, the slowdown in the global economy and regional instability, especially in western Asia and North Africa. Yang also pointed to the continued elevation of the strategic status of the Asia-Pacific region.
Despite the 'chaotic' circumstances, China had responded proactively, Yang said, 'in order to create an international environment and advantageous conditions for the construction of a moderately prosperous society in China'.
Yang said there would still be many uncertainties this year, with China tipped to play a bigger international role, though it would face more risks and challenges. Overall, he said 'the opportunities are still more than the challenges'.
Strengthening relations with major countries was vital, especially those with elections coming up, Yang said, 'in order to prevent domestic political reasons from interfering with bilateral relations'.
Strengthening ties with neighbours and developing countries are next on China's list of priorities, along with participation in regional multilateral forums and co-operation on tackling the financial crisis.
Professor Jin Canrong, from Renmin University, said stressing the ministry's proactivity as a top achievement last year 'might have been a response to international expectations that China should have done more'.
'[Mentioning] the Asia-Pacific situation is probably also a response to America's apparently increased influence in the region. Yang wants to send an upbeat message that all this is just temporary, and China still has things under control,' Jin said.
Other mainland international relations analysts said the review and the 2012 forecast were predictable and showed little change in the direction of the country's foreign policy.
'China has long talked about being proactive,' said Professor Shen Dingli, from Fudan University in Shanghai. 'But it doesn't see itself as a superpower, nor does it have the capability. So there won't be any change.'
Professor Sun Zhe, from Tsinghua University, said: 'China has for years talked about actively projecting China's values in international forums to allow stable development in China. This belief in actively managing foreign affairs [for China's pragmatic needs] has not changed.'
Professor Niu Jun, from Peking University, said there would be no adjustments in foreign policy this year, because of the upcoming leadership change.