Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

World's worries addressed

By Qu Xing (China Daily) Updated: 2011-09-09 07:54

White paper answers concerns of others on China's rise and clarifies new approach of its peaceful development

The State Council Informational Office issued a white paper entitled China's Peaceful Development on Tuesday, which elaborates the inevitability of China's commitment to a road of peaceful development.

The Chinese government published its first white paper on China's peaceful development road in 2005. So why has it been necessary to publish a new white paper on the same subject after just six years and what is new in the latest white paper?

As the world entered the 21st century, Chinese leaders judged that the first two decades of the 21st century would be a period of important strategic opportunities for China, during which peace and development would be the world trends. Over the past decade China has witnessed tremendous changes brought by its peaceful development. So the year 2011, the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, is an important point in China's transformation.

The year 2011 also marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the past nine decades have already proved to the world how the CPC has enabled the "sick man of East Asia" to stand tall among the nations of the world. Whether China can continue its reform and opening-up and seize the opportunities created by its peaceful development is closely related to the ruling party's perceptions about China's relationship with the world. Therefore at this crucial point on its socialist path with Chinese characteristics, it is necessary for China to reiterate its development concept.

The international landscape has experienced huge changes in recent years. The eruption of the 2008 global financial crisis, the collective rise of developing countries, changing share and voting power in international financial institutions and the establishment of new platforms for international economic governance have changed the world economic and political landscape, resulting in substantive progress in multi-polarization. Meanwhile, with the speeding-up of globalization, the integration of concepts and interests, as well as friction and conflicts, have become more common among nations and China's interaction with the world is growing correspondingly.

Furthermore, China's rapid development has caused concerns among the international community. China, which ranked as the sixth largest economy in the world in 2005, became the second largest in 2010. The consequences of China's rise on the existing pattern of interests have caused anxiety among others living in "the global village".

Developed countries worry that China will challenge their vested interests and dominance; while developing countries worry whether China will follow the disastrous road of colonialism taken by Western countries and whether China's international competitiveness will damage their national industries; neighboring countries also worry about whether its military modernization means China will solve territorial disputes by force; meanwhile, there are worries about the strain China's development will have on world resources, energy and the environment. Therefore it was necessary for China to respond to such misgivings.

The white paper makes clear that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the path of peaceful development, and defines the six characteristics of the path of peaceful development, namely scientific development, putting people first and promoting comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development; independent development, relying on itself and focusing on domestic development, rather than shifting its problems and difficulties onto other countries; open development, combining both the domestic market and foreign markets and using both domestic and foreign resources and integrating itself with the rest of the world with an open attitude; peaceful development, creating a peaceful and stable international environment for its development as the central goal of China's diplomacy and striving to make its due contribution to world peace and development; cooperative development, using cooperation as a way to pursue peace, promote development and settle disputes; common development, ensuring that China's own development and the development of other countries are mutually reinforcing, thus promoting the common development of all countries.

The white paper expounds what China aims to achieve by pursuing peaceful development. The overall goal of China's pursuit of peaceful development is to achieve modernization and common prosperity for its people. To build a society of higher-level initial prosperity in an all-round way which benefits over one billion Chinese people is the medium-and long-term goal of China's pursuit of peaceful development and the successful implementation of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) is the near and medium-term goal.

To attain these goals, China will make efforts to accelerate the transformation of the growth model, further exploit China's domestic resources and its market strengths, protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign companies in China and foster a fair and orderly investment environment.

Compared with the 2005 white paper, the new paper clearly defines China's core interests, which include state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national reunification, national security, China's political system established by the Constitution and overall social stability, and the basic safeguards for ensuring sustainable economic and social development. China advocates a new thinking on security based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security.

The new white paper also responds in a less direct way to other concerns of the international community.

With regard to democracy and human rights, the white paper emphasizes that China will strengthen the building of socialist democracy, continue to conduct democratic elections, decision-making, governance and supervision in accordance with the law, respect human rights and human values and strive to advance the all-round development of its citizens, to ensure that development is for the people, by the people and with the people sharing its fruits.

Concerning China's military buildup, the white paper emphasizes that China has a vast territory with a long border and coastline and faces multiple traditional and non-traditional security challenges and the threat of separatism and terrorism. Therefore, China's defense expenditures are appropriate and moderate, and are in keeping with the need to defend its security. China will not engage in an arms race with any other country, and it does not pose a military threat to any other country.

The white paper also elaborates that China does not seek regional hegemony or a sphere of influence, nor does it want to exclude any country from participating in regional cooperation. China's prosperity, development and long-term stability represent an opportunity rather than a threat to its neighbors. China's peaceful development has broken away from the traditional pattern where a rising power was bound to seek hegemony. China is glad to see and supports the developed countries in maintaining prosperity and development. China has made remarkable achievements, but as the white paper says it is not perfect in every respect.

At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, the white paper presents China's understanding and perspective of its path of peaceful development. As the white paper elaborates, taking the path of peaceful development is the historic and future choice of the Chinese government and people, and it is also the choice that China's development calls for.

The author is president of the China Institute of International Studies.

(China Daily 09/09/2011 page8)

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