While human society is now able to generate abundant material wealth, it still struggles to effectively address urgent global challenges. It is within this context that China has come up with the philosophy of peaceful development, a concept that answers the call of the time, gives developing countries a greater say in world affairs, and enriches the ideological pool of the international community.
Given the problems in the world today, viewpoints and solutions are abundant. With the multi-polarization of world politics, globalization of the world economy, and development of social information, however, mankind has come to share a clearer sense about its destiny and has sensed a growing possibility to extend a range of common values. Below are viewpoints on China’s peaceful development from Yang Jiemian, president of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Zhang Youwen, director of the World Economy Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Wu Xinbo, Center of American Studies, Fudan University.
Yang Jiemian, president of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies
The world community is now faced with the following three major issues of historical significance. Fortunately, China’s path of peaceful development has provided some experience and inspiration for the solutions.
1. Maintenance of social stability and exploration of new methods of development.
After a historic 30 years of light-speed development, China is now facing economic, social and cultural challenges, which will necessitate deeper reforms for a stable social environment. Meanwhile, in developed nations, chaos and disorder have continued to abound, such as the debt crisis in the United States and Europe, the disastrous earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear leak in Japan, the phone-hacking scandal in Britain, the immigrant upheaval in France, the killing in Norway, and the oil leak in Mexico Bay; all revealing a deep-rooted crisis in the Western system. In North Africa and West Asia, street revolutions and armed struggles have been waged. These movements, though great in strength and impetus, will not fundamentally change the contradictory social structures, or restore and stabilize a post-revolution order. Experiences at home and abroad over the last 30 years have proved that stability comes before everything else, as economic development can only prosper in a peaceful and stable environment. That development is of overriding importance because a country can only fully develop when it takes its specific national conditions into account. The world community as a whole will benefit from each nation developing in its own way and at its own pace.
2. Western countries need to abandon the prejudiced belief that a country always grows hegemonic once becoming powerful enough.
Some Western countries have come to interpret China’s growth in national strength as China’s shaking the balance of international order, which will inevitably lead to war and turbulence. The opposite is true. Carrying forward its culture and traditional method of external exchanges, China will hew to its chosen path of peaceful development and follow an independent and peaceful diplomatic route. As it has gained strength, China has contributed, through consultation and cooperation with the international community, to the rise of the G20, the restructuring of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the steady progress of regional cooperation. More importantly, it has stabilized the run of the international system onto a more equitable and rational track. China’s philosophy of peaceful development has therefore transformed the international system, while its practice of peaceful development has added new momentum to such transformation.
3. The meeting of global challenges is the major threat to our world today.
To effectively combat global challenges such as the financial crisis, terrorism, energy and resource security, arms proliferation, epidemic diseases and natural disasters, all countries must pool their strength and wisdom. The philosophy of peaceful development has become a major theoretical foundation for global governance. While joint efforts are needed for meeting global challenges, it is also necessary to pool wisdom from across the globe and make good use of all valid global governance theories for development. China’s philosophy of peaceful development is therefore a major contribution to the theories about global governance.
Zhang Youwen, director of the World Economy Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
A chief player in the world economic system, China has designed its strategies and policies concerning foreign economic development. It has always stressed the importance of regional economic development through neighbourly cooperation; facilitated trade and investment liberalization by signing agreements with various countries on free trade, investment protection, and avoidance of double taxation; joined global efforts to stabilize the energy and resource bottleneck of development by stepping up efforts to transform its traditional production and consumption mode; reformed its export system and emphasized two-way trade and investment; tried its utmost to develop new growth poles at home and enlarge its market space to alleviate the competitive pressure on the traditional world market; alleviated domestic poverty to attain the UN millennium development goals; maintained its high-speed growth and stabilize its exchange rate to safeguard world economic stability ; joined the world community in efforts to combat crises through coordination of macro policies; and given help to countries in crisis by multiplying its international procurement and imports. China has therefore contributed to the stability of the world economic system and the growth of the world economy on all fronts and in a most effective way.
While maintaining its high-speed growth, China has included the world into its own development, which is an embodiment of the development philosophy of a responsible big power and a demonstration of the internal link between its own development mode and the common prosperity of the world as a whole. Only through inclusive development can all countries develop common prosperity, jointly meet challenges in development, and enjoy common security by seeking common points while reserving differences. In this sense, inclusive development constitutes one part of the outlook on peaceful development.
Wu Xinbo, Center of American Studies, Fudan University
Since the beginning of the 21st century, China’s policy and academic circles have come to the conclusion that economic globalization and mutual independence between all countries are the trend of the time. China believes that instead of challenging the international order or the traditional path followed by other countries, it is possible for a country to promote its own development through international competition in an orderly way, and through promotion of mutual benefit and reciprocity in an era of economic globalization.
It is only normal for there to be differences and disputes in international relations. How to solve them, however, would be a test of the political wisdom of individual countries. China favours solving disputes through peaceful means and bridging differences through dialogue, consultation and negotiation instead of confrontation. China has always believed that the best strategy is to subdue an opponent without resorting to force. Even if arms come to be necessary, they should only be used for the purpose of securing a political solution. Also, China opts to follow a natural course in the solution of problems. If the time is not yet right for the settlement of a dispute, China would rather shelve it until the right time comes, as it has done in the settlement of territorial and marine disputes with its neighbours. China also seeks to settle disputes in an inclusive way. China does not see total gain as the best policy for the solution of contradictions. Instead, it seeks to balance the interests of all parties concerned. This calls for compromise, tolerance and creative thinking. The idea of ‘one country, two systems’ masterminded by Deng Xiaoping, China’s late leader, for the settlement of issues concerning Hong Kong and Taiwan, for instance, has considered the concerns of all the parties involved. As the experience of Hong Kong over the past decade since its return to the motherland has shown, this mode of inclusiveness is successful.
In our present-day world, each country has its own pace of development, and domestic and foreign policies. There are many factors that may affect the development strategy of a country. Of these, historical and cultural traditions will be of great importance. China’s option for the path of peaceful development may seem to be an unprecedented choice. In actuality, it is a natural product of China’s traditional wisdom.