China and US can coexist peacefully

Updated: 2011-12-19 07:47

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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Asia-Pacific is big enough for both countries to cooperate: diplomat

BEIJING - China does not intend, nor is it able, to squeeze the US out of the Asia-Pacific region, which is big enough for both to coexist and cooperate, a senior diplomat said during a review of the diplomatic year.

China hopes the US can play a constructive role and respect China' s core interests in the Asia-Pacific region, assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said during the 2011 Review and Outlook diplomatic seminar held by the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing on Sunday.

When responding to the strategic shift by the US in the Asia-Pacific, Le said that the US actually never left the region and China is confident that any problem can be solved through cooperation instead of confrontation.

The strategic reengagement since 2010 by the US in the Asia-Pacific region has been widely interpreted as trying to counterbalance China's rising clout in the region. Many Chinese experts consider this US policy shift to pose the biggest challenge for China's future development.

"Because of our peaceful development and openness, China is able to 'dance with the wolves' like its economy has done during the past 10 years as a WTO member," he said.

Diplomacy is not a zero-sum game in today's increasingly integrated world, he said. China, unswervingly committed to peaceful development, never engages in aggression or expansion, and never seeks hegemony, he said.

"The world will be much safer with more cooperation, instead of weapons."

There are two different perceptions about China's diplomacy in 2011. The West is critical about what it claims is China's tough foreign policy, while some domestic critics said that we are too soft in our diplomacy, Le said.

"The world has been through so much turmoil this year that I doubt that even a fortune-teller could have predicted it. So the hard-won achievements of China's diplomacy cannot simply be defined as 'soft' or 'tough'," he said,

"We cannot say resolving problems through negotiation is a compromise which is 'softer' than military force. Being tough or not is never the diplomatic objective or standard to judge diplomatic accomplishments," said Le, adding that both "toughness" and "softness" are just paths to create a favorable environment for domestic stability and economic development.

"Wisdom is more important than the fist," he added.

More and more Chinese would like to express their opinion about diplomacy through the Net, especially on issues such as the $5.85 billion arm sales by the US to Taiwan and the South China Sea disputes. As for public requests for "showing our fist" or "teaching foreigners a lesson", experts said China's development and mutual dialogue are the best ways to solve problems.

As for US arm sales to Taiwan, China has to prepare for the long-term until China and the US become equal in national strength, said Yuan Peng, director of the American Studies Center at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"Besides reiterating our firm stance against it, what China needs to think about now is not immediate confrontation but how to optimize domestic economic structures and what are its inviolable interests to defend," he said.

The rules also apply to the issue of the South China Sea, where confrontation is not inevitable, an analyst said.

With economic and technological advantages, China can set aside the disputes and develop it jointly with countries in the area, said Yang Yi, a rear-admiral and former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University.

"Stressing domestic development, China can be confident about the final settlement of these disputes one day as its strength rapidly increases," he said.

Wu Jiao and Zheng Yangpeng contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/19/2011 page1)