The ongoing evolution of human civilization brings with it a need to revise established views of the world. This is particularly true of China's extraordinary, peaceful development, dubbed by many China's boom and rise.
Earlier this week, official Japanese statistics confirmed that China overtook Japan in 2010 as the world's second largest economy in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP), a position Japan had held since 1968.
Although not unexpected, the news is prone to be exploited by the ill-intended or poorly informed as a handy tool to foment the unfounded "China threat" theory or the false "hegemonic China" projection. The basis of this wrong-headed reasoning is that a rising power will inevitably pursue hegemony.
However, this conventional wisdom about world politics and international relations is obsolete in the face of China's ongoing peaceful development. This Eastern nation, following a time-honored tenet established by ancient Chinese philosophers over 2,000 years ago, upholds a deep-rooted commitment to peace and harmony.
"As a responsible member of the international community, China will stick to the path of peaceful development and play its due role in protecting world peace and promoting common development," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Tuesday.
In an article published in December, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo articulated China's strategic intention in the plainest words: "The Chinese people have suffered long enough from poverty. Our greatest and only strategic intention is to live a better life, in which every day is better than the previous one. We wish the same for all the people in the world."
China's adherence to peaceful development is widely applauded by sagacious and well-informed scholars and commentators. Some of them stressed in recent interviews with Xinhua that China's development not only poses no threat to the world, but brought significant opportunities for other countries, and that China's peaceful development was a suitable, feasible and infallible path forward.
NOT ALL POWERS SEEK HEGEMONY
Some in the West remain vigilant in their concern about China's rise on the basis of the perception that great powers seek hegemony, a conclusion derived from the historical record of Western powers.
But things are different with China, an Asian country whose rise happened at a time when the global systems that saw Western powers rise through war and colonization have passed.
As pointed out by Kazuteru Saionji, director of the Confucius Institute at Kogaku University, the upward trajectory of China is unlike those of the powers in both ancient and recent times, and China's development to date is not at the price of other countries' interests.
Instead, China keeps its economy on the track of high-speed growth by building through its own efforts a unique economic system, namely the "socialist market economy," he says.
Dan Mahaffee, a scholar from the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, also says China's rise is off the beaten track of powers rising from conflict. He noted that many European powers used to feed on colonizing other countries, but China had never done so.
Instead, China had concentrated on economic growth rather than military buildup, and favored globalization rather than on trampling the existing global system, Mahaffee said.
HEGEMONISM NOT VIABLE IN TODAY'S WORLD
As put by Sun Yat-sen, a founding father of China's democratic revolution, those who submit to the world trend will prosper, while those who resist shall perish. It is exactly because China has recognized the mainstream of the world trend, namely peace and development, that it sticks to the path of peaceful development.
Yakov Berger, a professor at the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, held that China's policy of peaceful development evolved from a lengthy theoretical and practical study of the times and a rigorous search for its place in the modern world.
The policy consisted of two parts: development and peace, he said, adding that development was a main theme of the current times and long-lasting peace was not only possible but necessary in the post-Cold War world.
Besides, globalization had made interconnections of different countries the necessary imperative of the modern age due to acute global problems, the Russian scholar said.
Professor Kjeld Broedsgaard, head of the Asia Research Center of Copenhagen Business School, said China had shown no intention to expand its territory, but aimed to integrate into the current international order and share its development achievements with the world.
Chinese leaders had ruled out the path of a hegemonic rise, and China was engrossed in growing economically and creating a well-off society for its population, he said.
Noting that "we are living in an integrated world" where the West and the East were highly interdependent, he said China, a beneficiary of globalization, would only harm itself if it threatened other countries. 1 2