With its growing, mighty national strength, especially in economic capacity, China should take on more responsibility in the international stage, said Yan Xuetong in an op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune on March 31.
Yan Xuetong, professor of political science and dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said, "If China wants to regain its historical status as a great world power, it must act like a great world power."
In fact, the debate over whether China should shoulder more international responsibility has been raging on since the 2008 Olympic Games. While the Chinese mainstream maintains that the call for China to play a more active role is "a conspiracy" by Western countries "to exhaust our economic resources by saddling it with more obligations abroad," according to the article, a growing number of critics have started to question China's decades-old doctrine of "keeping a low profile," first articulated by Deng Xiaoping. The author stated unequivocally that he is "firmly" in the critics' camp.
Indeed, "the idea for a more assertive role appears to be gaining influence," said Professor Yan. This coincides with China's recent foreign policy changes, notably China's rescue efforts of Japan's earthquake, sending military forces to Libya to evacuate Chinese nationals and its recent vote in the UN Security Council to approve sanctions against Libya. "Today, there is increased recognition of the fact that China must exercise positive influence on international affairs," he said.
Finally, the article also stressed the role that traditional Chinese values can play to "help Chinese leaders to make sense of the new emphasis on international responsibility" and express Chinese voices "in morally desirable ways."