The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in November 2012 reiterated that China is still in the primary stage of socialism and will remain so well into the future. It was emphasized in the congress that China's international status as the largest developing country in the world has not changed.
After Xi Jinping took over as general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, he said at a group study session with members of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau that since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the country has put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; established and carried out an independent foreign policy of peace; made a solemn commitment to never seek hegemony and expansion; and emphasized that it will always remain a staunch force in safeguarding world peace. He stressed that China will unswervingly adhere to these principles, policies and commitments.
In a speech delivered on September 7 at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, Xi elaborated on China's Central Asia policy. He emphasized that China will never interfere in the internal affairs of Central Asian nations, seek a dominant role in regional affairs, nor try to nurture a sphere of influence.
The new Chinese leadership has also pursued building a new type of relationship between major countries when handling issues with the United States. The concept was accepted by Washington and has become the principal axis of Sino-U.S. relationship in the new era. The core of the concept aims to handle properly the strategic relationship between the biggest and fast rising developing country and the world's only superpower. It will help the two countries build a mutually beneficial cooperation framework, prevent misjudgment and avoid confrontation. It is starkly different from dividing world power or co-leading the world.
On September 20, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered a speech at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution, during his first U.S. trip after assuming his post in March. Wang shared his thoughts on the way toward a new type of major-country relationship between China and the United States. He said, "Win-win progress is only possible when both countries are committed to cooperation. Moreover, such a win-win outcome should not just be beneficial to China and the United States—it should also be beneficial to all countries of the world." He went on to say, "China is prepared to engage in comprehensive cooperation with the United States at regional and global levels. What we seek is not the so-called 'G2,' but each complementing the other with its respective advantages. China is ready to shoulder international responsibilities commensurate with its national strength and realities, and together with the United States, offer more quality public goods for the global community."
China's explicit rejection of the "world's second power" laureate and the "G2" is not an attempt to cover up an aspiration of being a world power. Rather, it holds a rational understanding of its own path of development and adheres persistently to its own strategic culture. The new leadership shows resolution in realizing the Chinese Dream, the core of which is to build China into a prosperous and strong country.
Shortly after China overtook Japan as the world's second largest economy, the government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released a blue book at the end of 2010, which said that China is set to become one of the top five G20 countries by 2020; and by 2050, it will be the world's second most competitive country only after the United States.
Changes in the international system not only manifest as the rise and fall of economic strength and power status, but also show up as the changes of dominant institutional models, values, principles and norms.
Since modern times, China has never been so close to world power status, and is already playing the role of de facto power in more and more fields. Meanwhile, China has also been pushed to the cusp of increasing international contradictions. In the next decade, China's position in the world will undergo fundamental changes. In the process of becoming a world power, it must confront several issues: How to meet the needs and safeguard the interests of China's own development; to what extent it must shoulder international responsibilities in line with its national strength and realities; and how to stay on the path of peaceful development while promoting the peaceful development of the world.
The author is an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review
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