Realistic answer to Montagomery's queries in his 1960 talk with Mao

16:49, December 23, 2010      

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Half a century ago, on May 27, 1960, late Chinese leader Mao Zedong had a very fascinating, intriguing talk on China's development "50 years later" with Bernard L. Montgomery, British field marshal and allied commander during World War II, and the gist of their talk reads roughly as follows:

Bernard L. Montgomery (hereinafter referred to as Montgomery): I have an interesting question to ask The Chairman: China probably needs 50 years to get everything in shape … What will China's future be by then?

Mao Zedong (hereinafter referred to as Mao): In your view, we will be aggressive by then, is that right?

Montagomery: I have the idea that when a country turns very strong, it should be very careful, so as not to carry out aggression. Just take a look at the United States, people will get to know... The historical lesson is that a country tends to be aggressive when it is very powerful.

Mao: A country is to be driven back when it commits aggression overseas... A foreign country is for its people to live in; others should not occupy it, nor do they have the right or reason to squeeze in... If you get there, you will be driven back, and this is a historical lesson.

Montgomery: What will be China's destiny 50 years from now? By then China will be the world's most powerful country.

Mao: Not necessarily. Fifty years from now China's destiny is still 9.6 million square kilometers. China has no God but the Jade Emperor. Fifty years from now, the Jade Emperor will still be reigning over 9.6 million square kilometers. We would be aggressors if we occupied an inch of land belonging to others. In fact, we are the "aggressed."

The above "Montgomery's queries" reflect a historical "inner logic" of Westerners in history contest. When a nation becomes strong enough, it inclines to invade others. The development of some Western nations in history has fully proven this point. The ancient Roman and Ottoman empires have taken this road, so have the Netherlands (or Holland), Spain, Portugal, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States. Why it is so is attributed to two substantial reasons. One is the cause of economics. After the human society enters into private ownership, powerful nations often go ahead with overseas aggression and expansion to plunder the property of other countries, especially when they became capitalist countries, where their military force and colonial expansion provide capital for the development of their industry and so served as special means of capitalist production.

Another is the political clause. Some Westerners hold that Charles Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest", or the law of nature, is also a law of development and progress in human society. So, they introduced the "Law of the Jungle", or a set of political philosophy, to bully the small and weak. With this "historical logic" in addition to the so-called "Yellow Peril theory" innate in their mind, Some Westerners are worried about and alert to the development of China, formerly a "great sleeping lion" that has now been awakened.

Time slides by and 50 years has elapsed in a flash. Looking at China today, its economic output has leapt to the world's second, its comprehensive national strength has enhanced greatly, and its social appearance and people's outlook have undergone great historical changes.

China has not engaged in invasion, aggression, plunder, wars, or expansion and domination as Western powers used to practice, nevertheless; China is still taking the road of peaceful development. Why does the Chinese nation not emerge the very situation which Marshal Montgomery had predicted and worried about?

Frankly speaking, this is determined by China's national character. As known to all, China is a socialist country, which insists on taking as the primary object the people's wish for their wellbeing, social equality, national development, security and world peace.

New China initiated the five principles of peace co-existence with the related countries shortly after it was founded in October 1949; it held high the banner of peace, development and cooperation and steadfastly implemented the independent policy of peace and development after the launch of the reform and opening-up policy in the late 70's of the last century and, since its entry of the 21st century and the new stage of development, China has increasingly integrated itself with the international community and related its own destiny with that of the world.

China wants peace, development and cooperation, and it has firmly pursues a strategy of opening up for mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, and this has definitely become China's only choice or only way out. Party General Secretary Hu Jintao's political report to the 17th CPC National Congress solemnly declared that China pledged to take the path of peaceful development steadfastly and unswervingly and further annotated the peaceful nature of the socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Meanwhile, anti-hegemony has been written into the constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Party Constitution of the CPC. This kind of the social character and political system have determined that China will never seek hegemony and never carry out overseas expansion. China's development in the last half of this century has given an eloquent proof the sincerity and correctness of Mao Zedong's remarks half a century back in reply to Montogmery's queries about China's future development.

However, some personalities in the Western world still have anxiety on such issues whether China will go for overseas expansion after it turns increasingly powerful, and those with harbored ulterior motives however have been claiming the so-called "China Threat Theory". As long as its people steadfastly take the path of peaceful development, China can surely answer Montogmery's queries well another 50 years later and contribute even more to the world's lasting peace and common prosperity.

Contributed by People's Daily Online and its author is Chang Ming
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