China and the World
By An Gang  ·  2020-01-14  ·   Source: Newsweek


Chinese UN peacekeepers take part in a military parade in Beijing on October 1, as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (XINHUA)

A common consensus in the world today is that China's development is linked to the change in the international structure and will have a profound and far-reaching influence on the world order. In many people's eyes, China has already become a superpower, second only to the U.S., and is having growing impact on the world.

In this context, a white paper titled "China and the World in the New Era," published by the State Council Information Office on September 27, ahead of the grand celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, makes clear what role the country wants to play in the world and what it expects from the rest of the world.

Xu Lin, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and minister of the State Council Information Office, said the white paper systematically introduces China's development achievement, path and direction and details the relations between China and the rest of the world to help the international community better understand China's development.

Responding to Misunderstandings

Particularly in recent years, as China's national strength has grown rapidly and its way of dealing with international affairs has become more active, a sense of fear has grown in some countries, both big and small. Some are afraid that China may become a regional or even global dominant force, pressuring other countries to follow its model, rules and standards.

Over more than a year, the trade friction between China and the U.S. has spilled over to other sectors, and the two countries' relations are becoming more complicated. The international community has growing worries that the "trade and technology wars" and the possible economic "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies will disrupt the global supply chain or even the whole global system.

China has continually responded to these fears by publicizing its policies on bilateral and multilateral occasions. There are also an increasing number of Chinese officials, experts and scholars who express China's stand through international media outlets. However, misunderstandings continue to grow, and China still has a lot to do to increase mutual trust and clear doubts.

This is not the first time China has published a white paper on its relations with the world. "China's Peaceful Development Road," published on December 22, 2005, stressed that peaceful development is the inevitable path to China's modernization, and it will make more contributions to the lofty cause of peace and development of humanity.

On September 6, 2011, "China's Peaceful Development" was published, which pointed out that China has broken away from the traditional pattern where a rising power was bound to seek hegemony, demonstrating instead that peaceful development is China's new development path as the largest developing country in the world. The highlight of the white paper was that it defined China's core interests, which include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and national reunification; China's political system established by its Constitution and overall social stability; and the basic safeguards for ensuring sustainable economic and social development.

The latest white paper explains an already strong China's promise to the world and its stance in a more confident and constructive manner. It reflects China's willingness to promote reform of the current global system and international order.

A New Reality

In the new era, the guideline for dealing with the relations between China and the rest of the world is "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy," which was developed from inheriting the excellent traditions of Chinese civilization, absorbing the experiences of China's diplomatic initiatives since the founding of the PRC and studying the development trends of the contemporary world and the opportunities and challenges China has faced.

Based on the vision of a community with a shared future for humanity, "Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy" is underpinned by multiple concepts such as a new model of international relations, a new model of economic globalization and a new type of partnership. It also highlights the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination. It provides new-type international public goods such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Its aim is to safeguard the international system centered around the United Nations, improve global governance through reform rather than reinventing the wheel, and build a more fair and reasonable international order.

On the same day the white paper was published, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke at the annual general debate of the U.N. General Assembly, where he said over the past 70 years since the founding of the PRC, China has constantly integrated with and made contributions to the world. Entering the new era, the Chinese people are more confident in and capable of realizing national renewal and are more prepared to make contributions to humanity than at any other time in history.

China will prove to the world through its engagement in peaceful development and global governance that it will not find its place in the world through power transfer, hegemony, competition or geopolitical expansion.

The author is an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review and a researcher with the Pangoal Institution

Highlights of the White Paper

China Has Found a Development Path Suited to Its Actual Conditions

China has made tremendous achievements over the past 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China. Its successes have been achieved through the hard work of generations of Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. Also, China is developing through interaction with the world.

China's Development Is an Opportunity for the World

The causes of the "China threat" theory include cognitive misunderstanding, deep-rooted prejudice, a psychological imbalance brought about by the prospect of falling power and deliberate distortions by vested interests. China's pursuit of peaceful development is not diplomatic rhetoric, an act of expediency or a strategic ambiguity. Rather, it showcases China's confidence in theory and readiness for practice, and represents China's unswerving strategic choice and solemn commitment. China will never pursue hegemony or expansion, nor will it seek to create spheres of influence no matter how the international situation changes or how China develops.

It is both unrealistic and harmful to regard China's economic development as a "threat" or a "challenge" and try to squeeze China out of the global industrial chain, supply chain and value chain so as to "detach" China from the world economy.

A Prosperous and Beautiful World Is the Common Aspiration of All Peoples

The world is undergoing the greatest changes in a century, and one of the most notable changes is that the rise of China and other emerging markets and developing countries is fundamentally altering the international structures of power. China's proposal to build a global community with a shared future pursues the goal of universal harmony and the principles of cooperation and mutual benefit, while opposing the law of the jungle, power politics and hegemonism. Meanwhile, it looks beyond zero-sum games to the idea of blazing a new path of development based on win-win cooperation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and offering a new option to the international community.

China Contributes to a Better World

China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa. The country will continue to forge ahead on its socialist path. Seeking a better life for the Chinese people has always been China's primary goal. China believes that the global trend toward multipolarity and democratic international relations is irresistible, and it hopes the world will uphold multilateralism, ensure equity and fairness and turn the proposals for the transformation of the global governance system into consensus and concerted actions.

As for China-U.S. relations, cooperation is the only correct choice for the two countries. The U.S. should treat bilateral relations from a broad and rational perspective. China has no intention of challenging the U.S. or replacing it. The U.S. will be unable to force China's hand, and even less likely to halt China's development. China is ready to work with the U.S. to jointly advance China-U.S. relations focusing on coordination, cooperation and stability.

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