Monday, November 21, 2005

A peacefully-rising China is a resolute force in maintaining world peace

A peacefully-rising China is a resolute force in maintaining world peace

By Zheng Bijian

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

   We are glad to have this opportunity to discuss regional cooperation in East Asia and Sino-American relations with American experts and academics prior to the China-US summit.

   Many of you would have noted the speech on Sino-American relations made by US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick on Sept 21. I would also like to focus on the same topic to explain how a peacefully-rising China is a resolute force in maintaining world peace.

(1) It has been proven that having an awareness of the overall situation and being pragmatic are keys to increasing mutual trust and improving ties.

   Sino-American ties are important but complicated. In the new situation where China and US are driving global economic development from the manufacturing and consumption ends respectively, active communication between both countries to promote interaction and increase trust is of utmost importance to developing healthy bilateral ties as well as
maintaining a peaceful, prosperous world.

   I would like to point out that US President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other American leaders have emphasised on responding pragmatically to China's show of goodwill, bearing in mind the big picture of sound bilateral ties, during a domestic debate on Sino-American relations this year.

   Mr Zoellick's speech can be said to have expressed an important political stand of the US leaders towards Sino-American relations in recent years. It is a substantial expression that contains the gist of the US policy on China.

   The tone of his speech indicates an acknowledgement of the logic behind China's path of peaceful emergence. His speech also recognises the success of China in opening up and joining the global economy.

   We also took note that his speech acknowledges that China's path is different from that of the former Soviet Union and therefore US should adopt a more pragmatic strategy towards China.

   Furthermore, his speech states that US is willing to work with a peacefully-rising China in maintaining and improving existing world order.

   Of course, there is another side to the story. While I appreciate the awareness of the overall situation and pragmatic spirit displayed in Mr Zoellick's speech, this does not mean I agree with all his views.

   Like other high-level US officials who have spoken on their policies on China, Mr Zoellick has certain ideological prejudices when looking at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese socialist system. Adding to the complications are the various voices and actions attempting to influence US policies on China, including those by certain high-level
officials.

   All in all, I feel that the development of Sino-American relations has highlighted the importance of keeping in mind the overall situation and being pragmatic.

   When we are clear about the big picture and adopt a pragmatic attitude towards specific problems, we can then grab opportunities to push ties forward. Otherwise, misjudgement and mistakes would happen. We would lose those opportunities and even make a historic mistake.

   Just as R&D (research and development) can stimulate economic development, I believe O&P … minding the Overall situation and Pragmatism… can bring realistic achievements for Sino-American relations.

(2)   To deepen Sino-American understanding, a fundamental issue is how one views the CCP and its goals in the 21st century.

   I want to begin with the different choices made by the CCP and its Soviet counterpart in 1979. Both are communist parties and they made important strategic choices in 1979 that determined their fates.

   Brezhnev's Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to invade Afghanistan, embarking on a ""world revolution' campaign to gain global domination through military conquests that eventually brought destruction upon itself.

   In that year, however, the CCP made the historic decision to reform and open up, embarking on a developmental path with economic construction at its core and connecting China with the world through globalisation. We have journeyed on this road for 26 years and will continue on this path. This is my first point.

   My second point is that economic globalisation has helped China achieve its peaceful rise. Thus the CCP has no intentions of challenging the existing international systems and does not propose to destroy or overthrow them with violent means.

   Globalisation has given rise to unnecessary expansion and invasion for resources, but it has also provided the conditions through which China can obtain the resources it needs for its modernisation.

   There are of course illogical aspects in the existing world order. We therefore advocate using reforms, and not other ways, to build up a new world order.

   I ask all of you to take note of my third point. The core principle currently guiding the domestic and foreign policies of the CCP is this: seek international peace, seek domestic harmony and seek reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait.

   Since embarking on a peaceful rise in the late 1970s, the CCP has adhered to developing a market economy along with building a socialist nation ruled by law and promoting culture and harmony in society.

   We combine the rule of people with the party's leadership and the legal system in order to develop a broad democracy. Our experience tells us that democracy and the legal system cannot be separated. Democracy without the legal system will bring only disaster to our people while a sound democratic system which allows the people to participate in politics in an orderly manner will ensure the well-being for our people.

   Lastly, I want to stress that the different paths taken by China and the former Soviet Union stem from the different understanding of socialism, from the different historical and cultural traditions, as well as from the different interpretation and grasp of the peoples' wishes.

   The CCP understands socialism as developing productivity internally and advocating peace externally. Historical, cultural traditions that the party values include harmony in diversity, trustworthiness, neighbourliness; in other words, not doing unto others what we do not want others to do unto us.

   The CCP knows the Chinese people want to wipe out poverty; they want progress, a strong nation and a harmonious society where everyone is happy.

   There is therefore no basis to the view that China will turn autocratic or embark on expansionism just because it has been under the long-term rule of the CCP.

(3)   I would like to talk about a point that is linked to the 11th five-year plan announced recently. It is about the three major trends that are inevitable in China's peaceful rise. The first is China will continue to focus all its efforts on development. Mr Deng Xiaoping once said the key to solving all problems in contemporary China lies in the country's own development. He also said we have to work hard and do our own work properly.

   The fifth plenary session of the 16th Central Committee of the CCP (the Fifth Plenum) has captured his words in this line: Concentrate wholeheartedly on development. This is a major undertaking affecting 1.3 billion people!

   The Chinese population will hit 1.5 billion people between 2030 and 2040. To a certain extent, China will be making a big contribution to the human race if it resolves the survival and development issues of a quarter of the world's population.

   This undertaking will occupy a few generations of the Chinese. We neither have the time, energy nor the need to threaten anyone or any country. We can say that this undertaking has never been attempted by any big countries in modern history.

   The second trend is China will, on the basis of maintaining its independence, continue to participate in globalisation, taking more initiatives to pursue a path dependent on the domestic and international markets.

   Due to its large population but limited resources, including energy resources, China will pursue a new industrial path and a conservational society with Chinese characteristics.

   The Fifth Plenum has stressed that China's per capita GDP in 2010 is to double that of 2000 while energy consumed per GDP unit must be 20 per cent less than that of 2005; environmental deterioration must also be curbed and over-tilling must be brought under control. All these will allow our balance of payments to achieve equilibrium and our open economy to reach a new height.

   China will continue to work towards promoting domestic consumption and relying on its own strengths to solve its developmental problems, and not burden other countries. This has also never been attempted by any big countries in modern history.

   The last trend is that China will achieve a renaissance based on socialism along with its peaceful rise and convergence with world civilisation.

   China's peaceful rise has been defined as a coordinated development of material, political, spiritual civilisation and a harmonious society. It is a construction which will enhance the qualities of its people and boost harmonious ties internally and externally.

   This signifies another great revolution in the Chinese society in the first half of the 21st century and another great reform for the Chinese people.

   This definition has become a fundamental policy, paving a peaceful, civilised and open path.

   Mao Zedong, founder of New China, had said in the 1950s: ""China will become powerful and yet amiable.'

   Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China's reform and opening-up programme, had also said during his 1992 tour of southern China that ""socialist China should use action to show the world it opposes hegemony and power politics; it is a resolute force in maintaining world peace'.

   Hence, we are treating this big undertaking seriously and will work on it for a long time. This, too, has never been done by any big countries in modern history.

Mr Zheng Bijian, a close adviser to the Chinese leadership and chair of the China Reform Forum, gave this speech in Mandarin at a conference in Beijing on Sino-American relations and cooperation in East Asia on Nov 3. This speech was translated by Ho Cheeng Cheeng, The Straits Times translation desk.

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