by Xinhua Writer Yang Qingchuan
BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — The frequent visits by Chinese leaders to neighboring countries and the joyous gathering of Asian Games participants in Guangzhou are just the two latest examples of a growing sense of unity and common prosperity in the region. However, some Western commentators have as always tried to interpret the positive developments in Asia in another way.
It may not be wrong for the West to seek greater market access and maintain security alliances in Asia, but its goal should not be achieved at the cost of China’s relations with her neighbors. The New York Times, like some other Western media organizations, tried to flame up territorial disputes in Asia, claiming that it was “China’s assertive posture” on these issues that pushed her neighbors toward the embrace of Washington.
The allegations are new, but the logic is centuries-old. They dated back to the time of the rise of colonial powers. The Social Darwin[ism] theory, deeply rooted in the Western view of world politics and still held by many there, believes every rising power will eventually pursue regional and world hegemony. However, that is just something the West drew from its own experience and is irrelevant to China’s case.
Let facts speak for themselves. Even in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) when China’s overall strength reached its historical zenith and was capable of launching long-haul sea voyage[s] as far as…Africa, it neither seized an inch of foreign territory nor set up any overseas colony.
Unlike Western sea powers which built their colonial empires around the world, legendary Chinese Mariner Admiral Zheng He and his massive fleet, unmatched at the time, brought Chinese merchandize [sic] and assistance to locals at every stop throughout his voyages.
In recent decades, after ending the sufferings from internal upheavals and foreign invasions, China is once again progressing on a path of rapid economic and social development. During that process, in relations with neighboring countries, China always sticks to the principles of mutual respect, good-neighborliness, seeking common grounds despite differences, and harmonious coexistance.
In 1954, late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai played a crucial role in formulating the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”, which are now the fundamental guidelines for international relations.
In the early 1980s, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping proposed the “independent foreign policy of peace”, and since the turn of the century, the Chinese leadership has pledged to take a “path of peaceful development”.
Most recently, current Chinese leaders reiterated China’s unchangeable policy towards its neighbors, which underscores peace, harmony and concord, and is based on the cooperative strategy of seeking peace, promoting development and pursuing a win-win situation.
It is undeniable that China’s impressive socioeconomic development has contributed greatly to peace and prosperity in Asia, and helped the region to overcome economic and natural mishaps.
In October 2008, at the onset of the global financial crisis, East Asian leaders gathered in Beijing and reached a broad range of consensus to avert risks and maintain economic stability.
In the first nine months of 2010, the trade volume between China and the rest of Asia achieved a year-on-year growth of 38 percent to reach more than 640 billion U.S. dollars, with China having a trade deficit of 79.6 billion dollars. China has become the largest exporting market for other Asian countries and increased economic assistance to Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The recent launch of a free trade area between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has enhanced the flow of capital, resources, technology and personnel…in East Asia.
China encourages its leading companies to increase investment in other parts of Asia and actively supports upgrading of regional transport networks.
Every time a major natural disaster took place elsewhere in Asia, China is more than willing to extend a helping hand. The Chinese government provided 250 million U.S. dollars in assistance to Pakistan when it was hit by massive floods earlier this year. Chinese President Hu Jintao called his Indonesian counterpart immediately after Indonesia was struck by tsunamis and volcano eruptions.
…China’s communications with other countries on the South China Sea issue are going smoothly and its call for “setting aside disputes and pursuing joint development” was well-received in the region.
It is crystal clear that there is neither historical precedent nor contemporary proof that China is on her way to become a threat to the neighbors or a new hegemony. So why all the fuss about the talks of “China threat” from the West? A possible explanation is that the West looks at China through a lense of its own past.
A modern U.S. theory on international relations argued that a hegemonic superpower like the United States is indispensable for maintaining a “free and open” international order. But such a hegemony theory runs counter to Chinese philosophic traditions, which expound the concept of “harmony without uniformity,” which means the world is full of differences and contradictions, but the righteous man should balance them and achieve harmony.
Moreover, China is still a developing country with a large poor population and backward rural areas. Its leaders and people are very clear that it has a long way to go before it is fully developed. Thus it is in China’s fundamental interest to maintain good relations with all its neighbors and promoting common development. It is also in the world’s vital interest to maintain a good relationship between China and the rest of Asia. Given Asia’s growing prominence in the world economic structure, any turbulence in the region could jeopardize the world growth.
So painting the China-Asian relations with colors of Western hegemony theory is both irrelevant and harmful, and it just shows how outdated and absurd the theory itself is.
Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2010-11/14/c_13606431.htm