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Trial voyage turns 'China threat theory' on its head

By He Hui (Global Times)

16:04, August 24, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

After the trial voyage of China's first aircraft carrier, some countries showed complicated emotions and expressed or implied that China is pursuing maritime hegemony. Their complicated emotions are understandable, but it is just their imagination or terrible illusion that China is pursuing maritime hegemony.

However, this kind of imagination or illusion must not be underestimated. Some have indeed made a conclusion based on the history of the first and second world wars that if a country expands its armaments, it will pursue hegemony. At least, since China already has the aircraft carrier, Western media will have more ears to listen to its "China Threat theory" and will be able to make more conclusions of various types.

The sea trial of China's aircraft carrier is simply a fact, and China has reiterated that it needs to own aircraft carriers. China's path of peaceful development has time and again refuted the "China military threat theory." The entire low-profile sea trial process of China's aircraft carrier has in a sense belied the "China military threat theory" again because some countries have always urged China to increase its military transparency over recent years, and they still doubt China's motives after China improved its military transparency. This shows that they have yet to understand China, how deep their bias toward China is and how firmly they hold to the illusion of "evil China."

They do not understand China's behaviors for a lack of understanding of China's thoughts. Some countries’ historical vision is so narrow that they claim that the expansion of military strength is just aimed at securing hegemony; peace refers only to "hegemonic stability" in their dictionary.

A powerful China has a greater desire to seek peace. China has never had a powerful navy. The world’s most powerful fleet led by Zheng He during China's Ming Dynasty had never imposed any threat to any other country. Instead, the fleet combated pirates, sent signals of peace to many countries and advanced the friendship between China and many remote countries. In contrast, Western explorers' fleets that were vulnerable to the Ming fleets had slaughtered and plundered many countries. Therefore, whether or not a country's military threatens peace does not depend on whether its strength is weak or strong but rather some more fundamental factors regarding the country, the most important of which is perhaps its culture and ideals.

The two virtues of "He" and "Ren" are the cornerstone of traditional Chinese culture. "He" means harmony and peace, and "Ren" means humanity and benevolence. Both the upper and lower classes in China admire the two virtues. Foreigners who know a certain amount of Chinese characters may find that the signboards of many Chinese restaurants and stores contain the two characters of "He" and "Ren," just like Americans who often talk of democracy. The two virtues have been extolled and preached by countless Chinese people over the past few thousand years.

The pursuit of peace does not mean China will give up its right of national defense. Like the country’s other military projects, the aircraft carrier project is defensive in nature and is aimed at safeguarding national security rather than seeking hegemony. Certain Western military experts have already noted that China's military buildup plan focuses on the development and deployment of anti-access and area-denial weapons.

For example, China has deployed anti-ship missiles in costal areas to prevent foreign aircraft carriers from entering its territorial waters. The country is building up its naval forces only for the purpose of strengthening its ability to defend itself. Admittedly, China's aircraft carrier project will change the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region but as it continues to increase its military transparency, the "China threat theory" will become increasingly unpopular.

The author is vice director of the Public Relations and Public Opinion Institute under the Communication University of China.


Leave your comment13 comments

  1. Name

Walton at 2011-09-04174.6.21.*
Let those who worry about China,and its military, worry about themselves, The World needs a strong China
PD User at 2011-09-02210.177.156.*
Harald, do you mean the set of Sino-Russian agreements? I see a lot of territory going from Russian to Chinese hands, so it is quite possible to view it as a case of the Chinese taking advantage of Russian military weakness for a land grab.
PD User at 2011-09-0275.92.103.*
Dear Comrade He Hui, I do not perceive China"s aircraft carrier as a threat to peace or regional stability. I see it as an attempt to show the world that China intends to be a "player" in international affairs, and wants to be taken seriously. However, we must not be misled by "images". In naval combat it would not last as long as the German surface fleet did in World War II. Aircraft carriers are mainly for countries who intend to project air power in far away places. (Like in Libya.) Submarines and guided missiles are more cost effective and efficient in an actual war. Therefore, I congratulate China on its aircraft carrier, but, if it is meant for war, I urge you to reconsider what a future sea war would be like.
Harald at 2011-08-30194.209.126.*
arkhangelsk: I can think of many. China has had many border conflicts in the last 50 years. China has given up large parts of conflicted territory in order to reach agreements and stability.I totally agree with the writer, that China has a history of peace, whereas the west has a history of colonialism. What China will do when its diaspora in other world regions is threatened remains to be seen, though.
PD User at 2011-08-3098.207.151.*
Great site, great reporting. Keep on going

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