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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Peaceful rise calls for more engagement

By Tan Yingzi and Zhou Wa (China Daily)

13:26, March 03, 2012

Finding a way to balance the international community's expectation that China will play a bigger role in the world with the country's long-held noninterference policy will be the biggest task before Chinese foreign-policy-makers when they gather in Beijing this weekend.

During the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top diplomats, think tanks and cultural exchange experts will share ideas about China's changing role in the international community.

As China becomes the second-largest economy in the world, it will inevitably have more economic and political influence over other countries, especially in regions where China has large investments, such as Africa, the Middle East and South America.

Its growing status in the Asia-Pacific region has also raised concerns from Washington and its allies in recent years.

China adheres to the "non-interference" policy, but the international community regards it as a important power today with great international responsibilities.

On issues ranging from climate change to the eurozone crisis, many industrialized countries have been pressing China to make more of a contribution. On the Syrian issue recently, Beijing vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria and urged all parties to have peaceful talks.

Kerry Brown, head of the Asia Program at London-based Chatham House, said China's main challenge is to create a consistent strategy that is able to communicate and promote China's legitimate economic and territorial needs, while at the same time avoiding accusations by the United States and others that it is becoming "assertive and arrogant".

"It needs to engage, and try to change, the somewhat contradictory desire of the West to see it sometimes as a country that is too unwilling to involve itself fully in resolving international issues, but then overassertive about certain issues that affect it directly," he said.

It is essential that China assure the world of its peaceful intentions, experts said.

"The 'China threat' argument remains active among China's neighbors and in the West," said Zhu Zhiqun, professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

The latest white paper, issued in September, stressed that peaceful development is China's strategic choice to realize modernization, make itself strong and prosperous and contribute more to the progress of human civilization.

In dealing with international relations, China will promote the construction of a harmonious world and pursue an independent peaceful foreign policy. It will also promote new thinking on security, featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination. By doing this, the white paper states, China will actively live up to its international responsibility and promote regional cooperation and good neighborly relations.

For instance, on the territorial disputes over the South China Sea, China hopes to overcome the difficulties through bilateral consultation and invite the countries concerned to develop the area together.

But some countries would rather develop the area alone instead of isolating the disputes and cooperating, which requires China to explore new ways of dealing with the issue, said Wang Fan, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University.

"China should explain its peaceful development aims further to neighboring countries, which is different from the way the hegemonic powers did it 500 years ago," he said.

Rana Mitter, professor of history and politics at the Institute for Chinese Studies at Oxford University, said China needs to show its neighbors in South and Southeast Asia that it understands their concerns.

"Beijing will need to show policymakers from New Delhi to Hanoi that it is committed to cooperation, not confrontation," he said.

Zhang Chunyan in London and Zhang Yuwei in New York contributed to this story.


Leave your comment1 comments

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wende at 2012-03-0571.255.93.*
China should be flexible with its stand and slways able to explain its stand in words. However, China should not timid to use its soft and hard powers when it is deemed necessary. Coxed with candy at the start, but not to forget spanking if the spoiled brat does not comply.

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