China will pursue a dual-track approach in its foreign policy, based on the directives of President Xi Jinping, by promoting itself as a benevolent power while standing firm on core issues, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
Wang made the comments on Sunday during a session to deliberate on foreign policy guidance Xi has issued over the years.
Wang said a series of challenges triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts meant that foreign policy needed to be updated.
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"Whether it is the global epidemic or the escalation of geopolitical conflicts, it is clear to the world that the traditional theory of international relations is no longer suitable for the common pursuit of development and progress of people of all countries," Wang was quoted as saying by the foreign ministry.
"It is also difficult to cope with the emerging problems and challenges."
Wang's remarks came ahead of the 20th Communist Party congress to be held this autumn, when a major leadership reshuffle - including a third term for Xi as Communist Party chief - is expected. It is common for senior officials to deliberate on Xi's policy directives in the run-up to the party congress.
Wang said China had portrayed itself as a power that sought to cooperate with other nations, but it would be firm to hit back if its sovereignty were infringed.
China has called for "inclusive rather than exclusive" international relations that stress a "win-win situation rather than monopoly, cooperation rather than confrontation and stability rather than conflict", Wang said.
Wang said China would be firm in defending its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and the nation had the "courage to fight a great struggle".
"We will struggle to the end against all forces that are attempting to overthrow the nation's socialism and the system led by the Communist Party and blocking the process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," he said.
China faces an uphill battle to maintain relations with its neighbours, and other major powers, including the United States and Europe, are growing more suspicious of its development. Europe is wary of China's closer ties with Russia, reflected in Beijing's refusal to regard Moscow's war in Ukraine as an invasion.
China and the US are confronting each other on almost all fronts. China has repeatedly warned Washington it will face a strong reaction if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan. Beijing regards the self-ruled island as a breakaway province to be taken back, by force if necessary.
Beijing is also stepping up engagement with its Southeast Asian neighbours, arguing external forces such as the US should not be involved in South China Sea disputes between China and countries in the region.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has soured China's relations with the West further, with Beijing hitting back against suggestions that the virus originated in the country.
Wang said there were many "black swan" and "grey rhino" events facing China and that he expected more challenges ahead.
"The country's development is still in a period of important strategic opportunities, and there is new development to the challenges and opportunities facing the nation," he said.
Wang reiterated that Beijing was not seeking hegemony but building a new type of international relations that stressed mutual respect, fairness and justice. He said the model of international relations China has advanced had transcended the historical limitations of "universal values" stressed by the West.
Wang said China would continue to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, its global trade and infrastructure strategy, and did not seek a "zero-sum" game in international relations.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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