Op-Ed Contributors

China's goal: Peace and development

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-09 07:51
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Editor's note: The 4th World Forum on China Studies was held in Shanghai on Nov 6-7, where many scholars from home and abroad presented their views on China's development and its relationship with the rest of the world. China Daily brings readers the views of some of the scholars.

Wang Chen: Harmony and cooperation

Countries today have become more interdependent and the fates of people across the world are more closely connected. Hence, the trend of international relationships is establishing peace, seeking cooperation and promoting development.

The theme of the 4th World Forum on China Studies is "Harmonious Co-existence: The Way to Harmony in China and the World". The forum reflects Chinese people's hope for world peace, development, security and prosperity, and shows their openness, tolerance and eagerness to hold dialogues with people of other countries. It reflects their hope of building a harmonious world with permanent peace and shared prosperity, too. The forum is very important for presenting the true picture of China to the world.

Chinese people know full well the value of peace and development. The two world wars were disasters. The deaths of millions of people, the mindless devastation and the trauma have made people across the world, including in China, realize that peace can be established only through development, and development is the best guarantee for peace.

China's peaceful development differs from that of the other powerful countries. The quintessence of China's development lies in consolidating its domestic development and opening up to the outside world, connecting its peaceful development with world harmony and prosperity, and combining Chinese people's fundamental interest with those of the people in the rest of the world. China has always tried to achieve development through peace, cooperation and harmony, because it knows that is the only way for the sustainable development of humankind.

To follow the road of peaceful development is not expedient for China, rather it is its solemn choice. Looking ahead, Chinese people will continue to follow the road of reform, opening-up and peaceful development. This road has changed the fate of China and brought prosperity to its people. We have no reason to replace it. To understand China's confidence and determination on the road of peaceful development, one needs to know its relationship with the rest of the world on a broader perspective.

The first decade of the 21st century is about to end, and China's future is being increasingly connected with the other countries. China requires a peaceful, stable, harmonious and cooperative international environment for its development, and it is willing to contribute to creating such an environment. China is an integral part of the international community and is committed to making concerted efforts to meet the challenges facing the world to achieve sustainable economic and social development.

The author is the minister of State Information Office.

Wang Jisi: Consistent policy for future

China began its reform and opening-up policy in the late 1970s. As part of this profound strategic reorientation, the Chinese government re-assessed the country's foreign policy and, based on that assessment, adopted a foreign policy that emphasized national independence, while maintaining peaceful relationships with other countries. Thanks to the successful implementation of this new policy China has experienced no large-scale armed conflict with other countries. And this peaceful and stable environment has enabled China to accomplish rapid economic growth and social advancement over the past three decades.

After the end of the Cold War, China worked with its neighboring countries in an amicable way to resolve territorial disputes and promote regional stability and security. It made substantial efforts to set up a multilateral cooperative mechanism for security in the Asia-Pacific region and to denuclearize the entire region.

In recent years, in contrast to the rest of the world, which has been plagued by financial crisis, China has maintained its pace of economic growth. This has helped it to modernize its military forces and become influential in global affairs. These developments have attracted the attention of other countries, which have either cooperated with and praised China or suspected its intentions and criticized its actions.

Such contrasting reactions are inevitable and natural for a rising power. Equally true is that as China's national strength continues to grow it will become more confident in foreign affairs. For this reason, a part of the Chinese population wants the government to do more in terms of protecting territorial integrity and national interests, and do it in a more "aggressive" way.

With all these developments, China's relationships with other countries are becoming more complicated, especially with new issues cropping up. To meet such challenges, the Chinese government should maintain a balanced and cautious stance toward the international community.

As emphasized by the Chinese leadership of late, China remains a developing country. But it should not deviate from the reform and opening-up policy, and its strategy to achieve peace and development. This is the only strategy consistent with China's fundamental interests and global peace and development.

The author is a professor and dean of the School of International Studies, Peking University.

David Shambaugh: Role in global security

China's capacity to contribute to meeting global security challenges is inextricably interlinked with its conceptualization of its growing global role as well as the world's growing expectations from it. In other words, security is simply a subset of the broader question of China's contributions to global governance. In fact, the security sphere is one of the most challenging for China, simply because its capabilities for it are more limited than in other areas.

China possesses greater capacities to contribute to global financial and economic stability and growth, to development assistance in developing countries, to fight climate change through its own industrial and consumer growth, to global public health through its domestic as well as international actions, to global innovation and technological development through its indigenous innovation, and to global energy consumption through its appetite for natural resources and investments in new energy technologies.

In all these areas, China's capacities to influence global patterns and global governance are greater than in the security sphere. Yet, in all of these areas, the degree and intensity of China's global involvement and contributions will be heavily influenced by a combination of external expectations and internal debates.

One thing is certain: the international community, particularly the developed countries in North America and Europe, will expect a continually growing contribution from China to meet global challenges and global governance commensurate with its new power, size and growing role.

China can, of course, help its own case for global multilateral security cooperation by continually enhancing its military transparency, acting in non-provocative ways toward its neighbors, and through continually expanded participation in multilateral and bilateral peacekeeping activities and security forums.

China has, in fact, become quite active in addressing "non-traditional" security threats in recent years, and is making positive contributions to several areas. Increased Chinese contributions to disaster relief, poverty alleviation, public health, and a broad range of other "non-traditional" security challenges/threats will also continue to gain Beijing international prestige. China is already contributing quietly to intelligence sharing and to counter-terrorism, monitoring financial institutions for money laundering, strengthening controls against human and drug trafficking, and cracking down on organized international criminal networks.

China has joined an expanding number of United Nations peacekeeping operations (2,155 peacekeeping troops in 12 countries). This makes it the 14th largest contributor of personnel (out of 119 contributing countries), but first among permanent members of the UN Security Council.

All in all, China's contributions to the peacekeeping operations have been a definite "net plus" for the UN, for China and the recipient countries. It is a tangible, perhaps the most tangible, indication of China's contribution to global governance. China's overseas development assistance is a significant contribution, too.

Thus, China's global security involvement has grown in some (non-traditional) areas, and has been very positive. China has also been active in working with other powers and in the UN Security Council on the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear issues. But in other areas, China's participation remains quite limited.

In the end, however, all of China's involvement in global security will be shaped by its calculations of its national interests.

The author is a professor and director of the China Policy Program, George Washington University, US.

Zheng Bijian: Development trends

The first 10 years of this century were crucial for China, because it focused on building a better-off society. The next 10 years will be equally crucial for the same reason. China can look back at the first 10 years with some satisfaction. But how will the second decade go?

China will enter the middle stage of industrialization and a period of stimulating domestic demands in the next decade. As a result, it will accelerate the transformation of its social structure, rapidly increase its consumption and expedite the process of transforming itself from a lower-middle income to a higher-middle income country.

China will continue to give full play to its advantages during this period. It will have sufficient workforce and funds, its infrastructure will improve drastically, its material, technical and system foundation will become firmer, the impetus and vigor of its enterprises for competition will grow constantly, and the government's ability to implement macro-adjustment and macro-control and cope with complicated situations will be enhanced remarkably. As a result, its social situation in general will remain steady.

But China's economic and social development faces some difficulties and obstacles, too. For instance, its economic growth faces increasing constraints because of dwindling resources and environmental constraints, unbalanced relationship between investment and consumption, lack of technological innovation , unreasonable industrial structure and still weak agricultural foundation. Other difficulties include unbalanced urban-rural development, disparity in income distribution, pressure of total social employment and structural contradictions, and social conflicts, especially the increase in contradictions of interests among its people.

So, in the second decade, China will still be in the primary stages of socialism, and has to free itself of old ideas, persist with reform and opening-up, advance the development of science and technology, and promote social harmony. By doing so, it will build a better-off society, largely achieve industrialization, increase national strength, and will become a combination of "world factory" and "world market".

In short, it will become a country whose people are better off and have a higher spiritual pursuit.

The author is former executive vice-president, Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

Nicholas Platt: Growing together with US

China's economy grew exponentially after its planners embraced globalization. United States-China relations expanded in every way, and became increasingly intertwined. Trade, investment, and technology transfer became the new drivers of their dealings and the sources of cooperation and competition in their ties.

Looking ahead, the choice is clear. The US and China must address vigorously the issues that threaten their economic lives - market access, outsourcing, the growing trade imbalance, exchange rates, and intellectual property. Strategies to rebalance their economies are under way. China's peaceful development creates opportunities for the two countries to grow together. Neither country has anything to gain if the other fails.

As foreign direct investment expands in both directions, interdependence becomes the source of a stable, growing relationship. The two must help each other to address looming problems such as a large enough pension system to cover China's aging population. This can only be based on direct participation in the global financial system.

The greatest looming challenge for China and the US is climate change. They have no choice but to confront it together. The consequences of global warming, described by some as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, such as rising sea levels, food shortages, mass migrations, widespread disease, droughts, flooding and political unrest already threaten countries across the world. China and the US will be forced to collaborate and concentrate their power even as the competition between them for supply of food, water, and energy intensifies. Ultimately, the fate of our planet depends on cooperation to control carbon emissions and develop clean energy.

Closer contact between peoples and governments of the two countries will be crucial for the future. US nationals know much less about China than the Chinese know about the US. The Internet, travel, student exchanges, and trade, investment, academic and military contacts are teaching the peoples of the two countries more about each other, but they need to increase the pace and the levels of such exchanges.

The author is president emeritus of Asia Society and honorary research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Robert Lawrence Kuhn: Role of scholars

Scholars are essential for the flourishing of great societies, and they have been honored and respected throughout Chinese civilization. Scholars seek truth, and because truth is elusive and often disputed, it is incumbent on scholars to present their views without fear or favor.

Scholars have a corollary responsibility, too: Not to distort or mislead. But an absolute standard of what is, or is not, distortion or misdirection can be a challenge.

The common assumption in the West is that scholars in China are not free. This is not correct, because the assumption does not appreciate progress. Although there are indeed pockets of restrictions, the off-limit areas have been shrinking. So scholars in China today have vastly more freedom than they did four or five decades ago. We should appreciate that progress.

The common assumption in China is that many Western scholars, just like much of the Western media, are biased against the country and conspire against it. This is not correct, either. Scholars, like the media, often focus more on what's wrong than on what's right. That is their nature, and society can benefit from it.

The problem with foreign critics of China is not so much that what they state is wrong - the problems they emphasize are often real problems - but rather that they give the impression that the problems comprise the entire picture of China, as opposed to just part of the picture.

Constructive critics of China, whether Chinese or foreign - those who root for its success but are concerned enough to point out the problems - are the country's best friends and greatest allies.

There is great hunger in the world for information about China and for understanding of the country. It is the responsibility of Chinese scholars to ensure that the information is accurate, even if the understandings differ.

I conclude by offering my congratulations to Shanghai on the conclusion of the magnificent 2010 World Expo, which drew the world's attention on two historic themes: The needs of cities, highlighting new technologies as the developing world urbanizes; and the emergence of China as a great and responsible member of the international community.

The author is chairman of the Kuhn Foundation and has a book, How China's Leaders Think to his credit.

Shahid Yusuf: Sustaining globalization

Given the depth of the imbalances among countries, only an internationally orchestrated approach to policymaking can restore the tempo and health of globalization. This will call for a "new deal" on global governance with concessions by all parties for the common good. With such global governance it may be possible to arrive at credible and impartially enforced rules for containing and eliminating imbalances through coordinated macroeconomic and pricing policies, and, in time, settling the issues with regard to a global reserve currency.

The global financial crisis and its underlying causes argue for clearer guidelines for monetary policy, banking regulation and techniques for managing capital flows in the interests of price stability, and the avoidance of asset bubbles to minimize systemic financial risks.

While these measures could correct imbalances and lessen the risks of crises, China's growth will require other kinds of policy actions as well. First, even though more of China's growth should derive from household consumption, investment will remain a crucial driver as it has been for the past 30 years. Maintaining high levels of investment in industry, urban development and infrastructure, and human-capital-building services will be vital for growth directly.

Second, globalization has drawn much impetus from technological revolutions (in electronics, computing, the Internet and bio-technology) and innovations across a wide spectrum of activities. Many of these technologies are now maturing and although there is plenty of potential left, China and the world economy urgently need to push the technological envelope in new areas and to spur productivity-raising innovations. Technological change will not only be important for growth (through investment and productivity gains), it will also provide answers to challenges that lie ahead from climate change, resource scarcities, urbanization and aging population to name just a few.

Third, technological advances increasingly depend upon open trading and innovation systems and international networking of researchers. The globalization of innovation is a significant achievement and one that needs to be preserved at all costs. With advancing knowledge and increasing specialization, the productivity of research will depend upon international efforts and the quality of networks.

The author is economic adviser to the Development Economics Research Group of the World Bank.

(China Daily 11/09/2010 page9)