Sunday, November 20, 2005

China's dream of harmonious existence

China's dream of harmonious existence
Lun TanChina Daily  Updated: 2005-11-10 05:57
President Hu Jintao suggested in his September 15 speech at the United Nations General Assembly that a "world of harmony" be brought about by all nations on Earth.
This signifies first of all the importance of the co-existence of diversified civilizations on our planet.
About 6 billion people of 2,500 ethnic groups in more than 200 countries dwell on Earth. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and many other faiths exist side by side.
Pluralist civilizations constitute a very important driving force for the progress of the human race.
Tolerance, which is free of restrictions by any ideologies and social systems, plays a role of paramount importance in bringing about peaceful co-existence for different civilizations. Only respect for each other, equal treatment, learning from each other and being considerate can ensure harmony in the world.
Applying this in the international political arena means consultation among all parties involved, not unilateralism driven by hegemonic ambitions.
This calls for democracy in international politics, instead of "what I say goes."
This is based on an optimistic judgment of international politics over the last six decades since World War II, when the idea of "world of harmony" was yearned for and conceived.
Fully-fledged wars and the Cold War in the 20th century were waged by big powers whose mutual relations were strained over a long period.
Looking to the future in the new century, we can be sure the big powers will alternately encounter times of strained relations and enjoy relaxed exchanges. Although the possibility of a deterioration of relations should not be ruled out, the big-power relations are poised to develop in a benign direction. The international community should help make this happen because the nature of relations between the leading global powers will determine war and peace on the world stage and the smooth running of world affairs and upheavals, as historical experience tells us.
In addition, countries are becoming more and more dependent on each other economically, taking into account the accelerating economic globalization process, which will help foster better ties between nations, big powers included.
At the same time, the negative aspects of globalization should by no means be ignored. While driving world economic growth, globalization is making the world's wealth disproportionately concentrated in the hands of a small number of countries and a handful of individuals.
The ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots has become the root cause of upheavals and social unrest, which renders this world disharmonious.
The gap between the least developed nations and the most developed widens each day, as does the disparity between the poorest populations and the richest ones.
According to a UN report on the development of the human race released this year, the total income of the richest 500 people in the world is higher than that of the 416 million poorest people put together.
The unfair and unjust world economic order is seriously hampering the harmonious development of the world economy.
Take aid to poor countries. Some rich countries that have enjoyed sustained prosperity since the end of the Cold War have not become more generous. Their per capita income has increased by more than US$6,000 but their per capita aid to poor countries has dropped to US$1.
Poor countries often run into tariff barriers set up by rich countries that are three to four times higher than those between wealthy countries.
Taking all this into account, eradicating world poverty and redressing the current unfair world economic order are pre-conditions to the world's balanced development, and, in turn, harmony.
Viewed from other angles, the idea of a "harmonious world" has been put forward because this world is not harmonious at present.
After September 11 and the Iraq war, profound changes have taken place in the world political arena. Contradictions have become unprecedentedly acute - the clashes between terrorism and anti-terror campaigns; the contradiction between the United States' unilateralist inclinations and the world's general trend towards multilateralism.
Wars and armed conflicts are posing a large threat to the harmony of the world.
Twenty-three serious armed conflicts are going on in the world today, including those raging and those cooling down.
Environmental damage, refugees, deteriorating public hygiene, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cross-border organized crime are other factors threatening the harmonious development of the world.
In view of this, a common security mechanism, common prosperity and pushing for the reform of the United Nations, in addition to tolerance, are the remedies prescribed by China.
In particular, the role of the United Nations, which is at the core of the world's collective security mechanism, should be strengthened, not weakened.
The idea of harmony is rooted in traditional Chinese thinking.
The Chinese word "he" has not only the connotations of "harmony" and "unity" but also those of "centripetal" and "coherence."
For the ancient Chinese, "harmony" was always at the core of dealing with everything from state affairs to neighbourly relations. The concept has always had a profound influence on the country's relations with the rest of the world.
At the same time, the Chinese have always emphasized the importance of "ruling a country benevolently," instead of "rule by force." This is a different expression of "harmony."
Putting forward the idea of bringing about "a world of harmony" today is also a way of promoting Chinese culture in the modern context.
The article is based on a discussion by international affairs specialists that appeared in Global Times
(China Daily 11/10/2005 page4)

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