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BEIJING - China's naval power took a landmark step Tuesday when its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning with the hull number 16, began its service in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
However, this move should not be viewed as a new threat. China is accelerating its process to integrate with the world and the country shares ideas and rules with the international community. China's increasing power will serve as a positive factor in the established order.
In correspondence with its rapid economic development, China's national defense power has continuously strengthened in recent years, giving rise to doubt about whether the country will threaten its neighbors or even challenge the global system.
However, there is another question that must be answered first: why were British or French aircraft carriers not viewed as threats, but the intermediate range missiles that the Soviet Union intended to deploy in Cuba struck the United States' most sensitive nerve?
International relations have long been dominated by realist thinking, which stipulates that in an anarchic international system, sovereign states have to defend themselves by preparing for conflicts through economic and military build-up. This has led to a security dilemma whereby increasing one's security may bring along even greater instability in the event of an arms race.
Realism only explained the situation between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Cold War period. However, France and Britain pose no threat to the United States as in the constructivist theory, identities and interests are not objectively grounded in material forces but the result of ideas and the social interaction of such ideas.
Despite some ideological differences with the West, China has increasingly integrated in the international system by accepting its rules and practices rather than trying to build a new one, and is now interacting positively for the world's peace and stability.
China has joined most of the international governmental organizations, playing well its role in various multilateral platforms. In major global and regional issues like the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear program and the Iran nuclear issue, the country has always pursued peaceful solutions through dialogues over turning to confrontations or resorting to force.
From late Chairman Mao Zedong to President Hu Jintao, Chinese leaders have reiterated the promise that the country will never seek hegemony as it gains power. In addition, the country does not force other countries to accept its ideologies. But of course, China, like most developing countries, would appreciate a more fair and reasonable international order.
Therefore, although China's power is increasing, it will not undermine the established global order, as the country shares ideas with the international community and a powerful China can make more contributions to global peace and stability.
China's increased military strength does contribute to the world. So far, the country has sent more than 21,000 peacekeeping forces on 30 United Nations peacekeeping missions around the world. Since December 2008, the Chinese navy has dispatched 12 fleets to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to escort more than 4,700 Chinese and foreign ships.
In the meantime, the shared global outlook can also break the cycle of rising powers waging wars against the established international order.
History repeats itself, but with exceptions. Rising powers and established ones have waged wars against each other in the past. In the last century, rising powers like Germany, Japan and Russia all waged wars against the established powers and all were defeated in the end.
But one exception occurred between Britain and the rising United States around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Political scientists believe that one of the reasons no war was waged was that the United States accepted the rules and norms that Britain built rather than trying to overthrow them.
That China shares ideas with the established international order means that the country and the mainstream world share common interests, so an aircraft carrier taking service should not be viewed as a threat to the regional and world orders.
The rest of the world should feel comfortable with China's rise and consolidate the common sense and shared ideas by interacting with China normally -- moves that can better maintain and improve the established international order and attain regional and global peace and stability.