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China's continuous gains in strength have fanned the flames of envy, misgiving and even horror among certain Westerners, leading some to slander Beijing's development, squeeze its strategic space and challenge its main interests.
China's fast economic development over the past 30-odd years has not prevented the spread of empty talk about subjects such as "China's collapse", "China's responsibility" and "China's expansion". The country's rapid gain in international influence has been accompanied by a so-called alliance of values, the "return to the Asia-Pacific" strategy and similar Western initiatives.
Certain Westerners are always trying to contend that China's achievements are the "products of a distorted political system". Even Chinese athletes who excelled in the just-concluded London Olympics have seen their praiseworthy performances come under the harsh light of such criticism.
China has consistently walked the road of peaceful development and held high the banner of cooperation. As early as in the 1970s, the late leader Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's reform and opening-up, solemnly vowed at a United Nations assembly that China will never seek hegemony. The ideals of peace and harmony are upheld in China's millennium-old traditional culture and are rooted deeply in the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.
A country can forge a suitable path for development only by conducting explorations in accordance with its national conditions, instead of by simply following other countries' methods. The Chinese people find no fault in the road Western countries have taken and only ask that the road they have chosen be accorded the same sort of respect. Common sense dictates that the only fit judges of a country's path of development are the people of that country themselves.
The Chinese are satisfied with the direction development has taken them. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, they are now more satisfied with their prevailing path of development and government than many other peoples in the world are with theirs.
Western countries, in one moment, accuse China of hampering the entry of foreign companies into its market and then, in the next, conjure up various pretexts to sabotage plans to liberalize trade and investment.
The Chinese government places a priority on protecting intellectual property rights, knowing well that they pertain to the openness of the country's economy. In the decades since China's reform and opening-up, the country has never slackened its efforts to safeguard such rights and has continuously worked to perfect its legal system.
China has also taken measures to coordinate global work related to energy conservation and climate change. China is committed to being able to say by 2020 that it is emitting 40 percent to 45 percent less carbon dioxide for each unit of its gross domestic product than it was in 2005, and to having 15 percent of its primary energy come from renewable, nuclear and other non-fossil sources of energy.
Despite all of this, some Westerners seem to be willfully ignoring China's unremitting work to meet international accords. Disregarding China's low amount of energy use per capita and low emissions of carbon dioxide per capita, and its efforts to conserve energy and reduce emissions, they try to place the entire blame for global warming on China.
Yet they cannot ignore that China's remarkable achievements over the past 30 years have shaken the "moral code" Western countries have attempted to use to rule the world. China's success once again proves that there is no one-size-fits-all method for ensuring a country's development.
China will unwaveringly travel a development road that merely suits its national conditions and is in no way intended to promote "ideological competition". At the same time, China will not tolerate attempts to squeeze its development space and disturb its development process.
With the quickening pace of globalization, China and Western countries should cooperate more with each other in complementary ways. This will not only bring strength to their development, but also improve international relations and make bigger contributions to world peace and prosperity.
To this end, China and Western countries should try to resolve their disputes in a prudent manner as part of efforts to strengthen mutual trust and reduce misunderstanding and misgivings.
At the moment, China's priorities are in finding better ways to handle the country's domestic affairs, achieve development and make further progress along a socialist road with Chinese characteristics.
The author is a commentator at People's Daily and this article was first carried in that newspaper.
(China Daily 09/01/2012 page5)