Never before has China’s diplomacy been so crucial to determining future world developments. From the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the two plenary sessions of the National People’s Congress & the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, to Xi Jinping’s first overseas visit as the Chinese President, the world has come to realize the importance of China’s diplomacy in the Xi Jinping era.
In taking stock of global public opinion of Xi Jinping’s overseas visit, it is well recognized that the world has a different understanding of China’s commitment to peaceful development. Peaceful development is not a new concept, however previous talks on peaceful development were always linked with the belief that it is concerning China. But now the world is aware that, with the continued rise of China’s strength and its deepening interaction with the world, China’s diplomacy will have a greater impact on the spectrum of world politics and the economy.
World public opinion has learned something new from Xi Jinping’s statements on China’s foreign policy, because they are clearer and more confident and because China’s diplomatic positive energy is different from what it used to be:
“As China forges ahead, so will the world. As China embarks on the road of peaceful development, so will other countries. Only when all countries embark on this path can they develop together and live peacefully among themselves.”
Many things we Chinese talk about amongst ourselves can have a greater impact on the world than before. For example, we Chinese talk about confidence in our path, our theory, and our system; and all this seems to be internal only. But today, with the rise of China’s global impact, such talks are also external. With China’s growing strength, this confidence can have a far-reaching and extensive influence on the world landscape along with China’s sustained and stable development.
It is apparent that some people have not been able to accept this reality. According to them, China cannot be considered as a “normal great power” and China’s diplomacy is becoming “more assertive and arrogant.” This line of thinking has largely resulted from their lack of preparedness in a few ways.
First, they are not prepared for the inevitable change in the global power structure. Second, they are not prepared for China becoming a strong power. Third, they are not prepared for an end to the obsolete view in history that the rise of a new power will inevitably lead to war.
The most notable manifestation of China’s peaceful development in the world will be the change of power structure. The rise of new emerging economies will usher in the start of a re-balancing process. And the process resulting from a transfer of power, as well as the redistribution of responsibilities and rights, will be in the interest of all countries.
The Singapore academic Kishore Mahbubani wrote in his new book “The Great Convergence” that the prosperity and security of emerging countries and developed economies will depend on whether or not they can find a method for power-sharing.
When a foregone set of rules and philosophy is no longer applicable to China’s current development, then it will be vital to weigh China’s outlook on development and its corresponding foreign policy in order to address some thorny and pressing issues in the years ahead.
In the next decade, China’s diplomacy will still maintain its all-dimensional and multi-level characteristics, while still emphasizing China’s core interests as the precondition and foundation for peaceful development. However, given the growing strength of China, efforts to promote a global strategy, comprehensive cooperation, and to build a new type of relationship among big powers will be obviously different. Continued peaceful development will eventually bring about a more balanced international landscape.
Whereas previously China had to give more consideration to integrating itself with the rest of the world; today’s China, while continuing to adapt to world development, is doing more to push the rest of the world to make adjustments in light of its own development. Thus, the interaction between China and the rest of the world has entered a new stage of mutual adaptation. The world needs a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the lofty aspirations of an eastern power embarking on a path of peaceful development.
The above was featured on the People’s Daily Website in the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, China’s official state-run newspaper.
Ding Gang is a senior editor of People’s Daily.