FREELY The dimensions of China's peaceful
rise By Yiwei Wang
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The peaceful rise of China has become its national will
and concept. Though the rise of China is an indisputable
fact, consensus on the approach and future of the
nation's ascent has yet to be reached in the
international community. During his address to Harvard
University last November, Premier Wen Jiabao for the
first time stated to the world China's confidence and
determination in its peaceful rise.
terminology of international politics, used to study the
destiny of an empire or big power, the word "rise" is
always linked with "decline" or "fall". In the West,
since the word "rise" denotes a potential change of
hegemony or transfer of power, the growth of a new power
invariably makes traditional hegemonic countries uneasy.
Moreover, as Westerners who believe in democratic peace
doubt whether China can become "democratic" in the
future, they recognize the theory of "China threat" more
than the theory of "China's peaceful rise".
Within China, the term "great rejuvenation of
the Chinese nation" replaces the word "rise". However,
the word "rejuvenation" can also make neighboring
countries suspicious that China might attempt to restore
the imperial system. In fact, regarding the regional
environment prior to China's growth, the approach during
its rise and the impact after its rise, the ascent of
China is not only reasonable but also legitimate and
Rationality of China's rise: Rise
of peace In terms of the environment, China is
able to and will inevitably realize the "rise of peace".
Economic globalization and the vigorous development of
regionalism have created a favorable international
economic climate for China's peaceful ascension. The
process of China's rise has just overlapped the
transformation of world politics and economy, so the
rise of China is flowing with the tide of development.
Moreover, the peaceful ascent of Asia has become the
basis for China's peaceful rise.
The new mode
for cooperation among the big powers in the field of
non-traditional security such as anti-terrorism and
anti-proliferation has created a favorable international
political environment for China's rise. Generally
speaking, most of the big powers have adopted the
position of recognition on China's growth.
Seeking peaceful negotiated resolution of
disputes China has been seeking to solve
disputes with neighboring countries through peaceful
negotiations. China so far has resolved territorial
conflicts with most of its neighbors and has also
reached consensus with all sides concerned with
maintaining peace and stability in the disputed areas
through peaceful means.
Rifts over territory and
water are not the obstacles preventing China from
developing good relations and cooperating with its
neighboring countries to build regional security, which
has created a favorable security environment for China's
ascending in peace.
With the improvement of
national strength and international status, China is
increasingly welcomed by major powers, neighboring
nations and the Third World to play a more active global
role, which builds a positive image for the country.
Regarding China's huge population and growing
involvement in the process of globalization, it would
not be in the interests of the world if China did not
The legitimacy of China's rise: Rise by
peace The approach China has adopted for its
ascent is inevitably peaceful. Internally, making a
peaceful, democratic and civilized nation has been
designated as China's ultimate development goal.
Externally, the nation has obtained resources and
development momentum through legal means and
constructively participated in international affairs.
This differs fundamentally from the mode of rise of
other powers in history.
China's rise stems from
the rapid growth of the economy, which is largely based
on its domestic market. China's economic development
also hinges on a peaceful and stable international
environment. Rather than choosing the road of external
expansion like some big powers in history, China has
chosen the mode of combining self-reliance with opening
up for developing its economy, which has laid the
material foundation for China to rise peacefully.
To build an all-around well-off society is the
domestic basis for the legitimacy of China's ascent. The
promotion of the new security concept with mutual trust,
mutual benefit, equality and cooperation as its core and
the successful practice of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization have contributed to enhancing increasingly
the international basis for the legitimacy of China's
Rise derives from soft power,
global contributions The priority of China's
diplomacy has been adjusted to improve relations with
the major powers, neighboring countries and the Third
World. China seeks to improve and develop its relations
with developed countries by enhancing common interests
while adopting the policy of "being friendly to and
making partners with neighboring countries" and seeking
to strengthen the unity and cooperation with the Third
World by establishing a just and reasonable new world
political and economic order.
policy has been welcomed by the international community
and thus has upgraded China's soft power. China's
economic growth has made great contributions to the
growth of world gross domestic product (GDP) and global
trade. China has also played a constructive role in
seeking a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the
Since China has not adopted
the approach of challenging the hegemony and world order
for its rise, and has sought to be a responsible country
within the current international system, its growth is
hailed by the international community.
Matching objectives of China's rise: Rise for
peace In terms of impact, China's peaceful rise
means "rise for peace". Specifically, China seeks
security and development by means of realizing world
peace and prosperity so as to fulfill its promise of
peaceful rise made to the international community. The
goal of China's rise is to build an all-around well-off
society internally and to maintain world peace and
promote common development externally. China's rise
serves to safeguard and realize the human rights of the
1.3 billion Chinese citizens and to realize better the
national right of China.
Of course, China's
peaceful rise is not unconditional and without
challenge. The largest challenge lies in itself,
including whether or not it is able to realize the
balance and coordinated development between regions and
industries, stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait
to achieve peaceful reunification, and become integrated
into the mainstream international society.
challenge also includes whether or not it is able to
realize the peaceful and steady development of the
Sino-US strategic relationship, promote a common rise by
following the example of European integration, and
promote win-win Sino-Japanese relations.
competition among the big powers in the future will not
merely be a competition of comprehensive strength but
one among the continental blocs based on regional
integration, mostly among Europe, America and Asia. The
future of China lies not only in managing the Chinese
economic circle but also in becoming the engine of Asian
integration and another sphere independent of Europe and
America. If so, national unification and Sino-US or
Sino-Japanese relations will never be the problem
containing the rise of China.
Wang is an assistant professor at the Center for
American Studies and assistant to the dean of the
Institute for International Studies of Fudan University
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times
Online feature that allows guest writers to have their
say. Pleaseclick hereif you are
interested in contributing.