Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval fleet conducted a training drill within international waters in the western Pacific Ocean recently, a regular exercise held in line with the PLA’s annual plan. However, some Western media showed “surprise” at the “unprecedented scale”, and some even denounced this legitimate act as a “regional threat”. Some even challenged China’s path of peaceful development.
China should listen to different voices with an objective mind. Some of the apprehension springs from a lack of understanding. The impact of China’s rise has been associated by some with the historical rise of Western powers, and in response to this, we have to explain China’s development with patience and sincerity. Some of the apprehension, however, is rooted in people’s reluctance to accept China’s development, or simply a sense of jealousy. They are aware that China’s commitment to peaceful development poses no threat to others, but China’s peaceful development is the last thing they want to see.
Pursuit of peaceful development is China’s strategic choice, which has brought tangible benefits to the Chinese people and contributed substantially to world peace and development. China’s peaceful development is not only based on its cultural and historical heritage, but also on the necessity of inter-dependence among countries for the creation of a harmonious world.
In an era of economic globalization, a country can fully achieve its development by participating in international competition and cooperation based on equality and mutual benefit, without resorting to the old practice of expansionism or colonialism. Upholding peaceful development and opposing hegemony are the solemn commitments made by the Chinese government and people to the world, which has been codified in the Constitution of China. Something no other major country has done.
For any sovereign state, improvement of national defense is part of its all-round development, just like technology upgrading, productivity increase and improvements in the standard of living. China has a land boundary of more than 22,000 kilometers and an 18,000-km coastline. We pursue a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. China’s strengthening of its national defense is not aimed at hegemony, but to uphold sovereignty and territorial integrity, secure a peaceful environment for development, create favorable conditions for world peace and fulfill its international responsibilities.
All countries, big or small, rich or poor, should treat each other as equals and with respect. Judging an international dispute has nothing to do with the relative might of the disputing parties or of one side speaking louder than the other. The key is to judge each case on its own merits.
Take the South China Sea situation for instance, it is not that China has infringed upon another country’s interests, but that China has no choice but to defend its lawful rights and interests because of other countries’ encroachment upon its sovereign and territorial integrity.
However, now the encroaching parties act as victims, falsely accusing China of being a bully. Moreover, some countries not even connected with the issue, turn a blind eye to the facts and back up these self-proclaimed victims with ostensible impartiality. People have every reason to ask if such behavior is truly conducive to regional peace and stability.
In spite of many injustices in the world, the Chinese people will never waver in their pursuit of peace and trust. Peaceful development should be the common aspiration of mankind. This calls for the joint efforts of all countries.
Like any other country, China has its own principles to stick to, and its own bottom line. The Chinese have behaved with the utmost sincerity and hopefully other countries will do likewise. Only in this way will the road of peaceful development become broader, and the idea of peaceful development be embraced across the world.
The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.
Source: China Daily