Taking the best way forward

Updated: 2012-08-10 08:08

By Chen Xiangyang (China Daily)

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China should continue to prioritize peaceful development despite US' game of fanning trouble in its neighborhood

The upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has drawn the attention of the world. In this context, Party General Secretary Hu Jintao's speech at the opening session of a workshop for ministerial and provincial officials on July 23 further unified senior Party cadres' thoughts and prepared them for the national congress.

The important speech comprehensively analyzed the domestic and overseas situations, and stressed that China is still in an important period of strategic opportunities. The 16th CPC National Congress in 2002 had said that the first 20 years of this century was an important strategic opportunity period, which must be fully used.

During the past decade, the international strategic landscape has undergone complex and profound changes with the global financial crisis serving as a "turning point". Although the United States is still the only superpower, its abuse of military force, deficit spending and financial crisis have caused its comparative advantage to decline.

The change in the status of major powers is particularly significant with the old Western powers sliding in strength, and emerging powers scrambling to catch up. The European Union is struggling with the eurozone debt crisis. Japan, which suffers both natural and man-made disasters, has "lost" its development direction and resorted to a "manic" foreign policy. Though the emerging powers face the "pangs of growth" in varying degrees, their rising momentum is irreversible.

Among the emerging economies, China's performance is especially prominent. Its GDP is now the second largest in the world, and its comprehensive strength and international status have recorded a historic leap.

In the second half of the strategic opportunity period, China's peaceful development has great external sources to tap.

The global power balance is shifting with the collective rise of the emerging powers. China's rise is part of this collective ascent and, hence, not isolated. The emerging economies have begun coordinating and cooperating strategically to resist Western hegemony.

On one hand, the Western powers and the emerging countries compete with and guard against each other. On the other, they have to cooperate in dealing with global challenges. The Western powers are relying more on China. And China and the US are exploring a new non-zero-sum relationship.

The reform of global governance is deepening, and China's say is increasing steadily in important international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and G20. China has become an important player in and defender and reformer of the international system.

In the post-global financial crisis era, the world economy is restructuring and a new round of technological revolution is on the anvil, which can benefit China's independent innovations in technology and help it build an "innovation-oriented country".

Though the security environment China faces, especially in its neighborhood, is becoming more challenging, Beijing's good-neighborly diplomacy has won the recognition and support of most neighboring countries.

But in the coming decade, China has to take precautions against external challenges.

China's international responsibilities are rising correspondingly with its fast growing economic strength. But since China's per capita GDP is still very low, it cannot undertake as much global responsibility as the West wants it to.

China showed its strong resilience during the global financial crisis and recovered faster than any other country. Some Western powers that are in a deep crisis, however, are trying to foil China's peaceful development through foul means.

With the unfolding of the financial and debt crises in Western developed economies and their shrinking external demands, China's foreign trade is facing greater pressure. Besides, some developed countries have resorted to protectionism against China to squeeze its overseas market. And the US' loose monetary policy could again shift the burden of its crisis onto emerging economies, led by China. Under such circumstances, it is difficult for China to maintain steady growth and create enough jobs.

The combination of the spillover effect of regional turmoil and the side effects of information technology make maintaining political and social stability an arduous task.

Amid the continuing upheaval in West Asia and North Africa, the West insists that it has the "responsibility to protect" people when its actual aim is to achieve "regime change" through armed intervention. Developing countries today find it more difficult to safeguard their sovereignty.

Moreover, the US is trying to use maritime territorial disputes surrounding China to fulfill its own interests. China's rise is worrying for its neighbors that have maritime territorial disputes with it. Using this to its advantage and to maintain its dominant status in the Asia-Pacific region, the US has tried to drive a wedge between China and some of its neighbors and force it to get bogged down in endless troubles in its neighborhood.

China has unprecedented opportunities for its development but it also faces challenges, and its scientific and peaceful development still has a long way to go.

That's why it should proceed with confidence, generate new ideas in diplomatic strategy by sticking to the Scientific Outlook on Development, use its advantages and avoid the pitfalls, and make full use of the important strategic opportunity period to build a well-off society in an all-round way and keep creating new opportunities.

The author is deputy director of World Politics Research Institute, affiliated to the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.