China developed bilateral relations with the East European countries after drastic social change in them
From 1989 onwards, fundamental changes since World War II took place in the East European countries. Solidarity won the parliamentary election in Poland and formed the first non-communist government in Eastern Europe. There was subsequent change in the rule by the communist parties in Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania. Some communist parties changed their names or formed coalition governments with other parties. Multi-party system and parliamentary democracy were introduced in the East European countries, and their economies began transition towards market economy based on private ownership.
Faced with the drastic changes in Eastern Europe, China from the very beginning adopted the position of not interfering in their internal affairs and respecting the choice made by the people of these countries. The Chinese party and government leaders stated on many occasions that China hoped to maintain and develop normal state to state relations with the East European countries and enhance exchanges and cooperation with them in the political, economic, trade, science and technology and cultural fields. In light of changes in Eastern Europe, China adjusted its policies towards the East European countries, which are summarized as follows: Respect each other, seek common ground and set aside differences, treat each other as equals and enhance mutual benefit, promote steady development and develop state to state relations in accordance with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
Despite drastic changes at home, the East European countries continued to pursue the policy of maintaining and developing friendly relations and cooperation with China. They reiterated that they recognized only one China, namely, the People?s Republic of China, and that they would not enter into official relations with Taiwan.
In 1990, China sought to increase understanding with the East European countries and explored ways to enhance bilateral relations with them. Both sides maintained frequent exchange of contacts and visits towards this end. In August, 1990, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Tian Zengpei visited Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Romania and Yugoslavia for regular consultation. During the bilateral contacts and meetings, China and the East European countries reached consensus that there were no conflict of fundamental interests between them and that to continue to develop all-round state to state relations between China and the East European countries were in their best interests.
The year of 1991 saw continued improvement in the political relations and increased exchanges and cooperation between China and the East European countries. According to statistics, 65 visits at and above the vice ministerial level were made between the two sides, including 33 visits to China made by the East European countries.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen visited five countries, namely, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. It was the first senior level visit paid by China to Eastern Europe after its drastic change and was of great importance. Foreign Minister Qian was well received by the governments of the East European countries. During his visit, the foreign minister stressed that difference in social system, ideology and values should not stand in the way of developing relations between China and the East European countries. He reiterated that China respected the right of the East European countries to choose their own social systems and path of development and expressed China?s desire to develop good bilateral relations with them on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. His stand was highly appreciated by the leaders of the five East European countries, who, on their part, expressed their readiness to have good relations with China. Such high level exchange of visits improved mutual understanding, trust and cooperation between China and the East European countries, and brought about substantive progress in their political relations.
In 1992, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split into five countries, namely, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Macedonia. In pursuance of its consistent position of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and respecting the choice made by the people of these countries, China recognized these newly independent countries and entered into diplomatic relations with them at appropriate time. (Note: In February, 1999, China cut off diplomatic relations with the Republic of Macedonia as it entered into official relations with Taiwan.)
China?s smooth political relations with the East European countries were accompanied by steady growth in trade and scientific exchanges. Both sides realized that the former mode of trade between them no longer met the need of conducting trade under the new circumstances. Therefore, it was necessary to explore new ways and channels to expand trade. Starting from 1990, barter trade between China and Poland changed into cash trade. In the same year, China respectively signed agreements to conduct cash trade in 1991 with Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. The new governments in the East European countries recognized and continued to implement the previous agreements and projects of cooperation with China. China also signed new agreements with these countries, which provide legal basis and guarantee for conducting bilateral trade and scientific cooperation and ensuring the sound growth of bilateral cooperation. China?s cooperation with the East European countries in other fields has registered new progress and the scope their cooperation has steadily expanded.