China's "Peaceful Rise" to Great-Power Status

I spent the morning reading essays in the latest issues of Foreign Affairs, as ever there lots, and all make very interesting reading. One that caught my attention in my particular was by Zheng Bijian, Chair of the China Reform Forum, a nongovernmental and nonprofit academic organization. He has also drafted key reports for five Chinese national party congresses and held senior posts in academic and party organizations in China.

His essay concerns China’s future
, where he believes China will act entirely peacefully, but will not make exceptions when it comes to doing business with rogue regimes, as the US would wish.

He begins with some facts:

Since starting to open up and reform its economy in 1978, China has averaged 9.4 percent annual GDP growth, one of the highest growth rates in the world. In 1978, it accounted for less than one percent of the world economy, and its total foreign trade was worth $20.6 billion. Today, it accounts for four percent of the world economy and has foreign trade worth $851 billion — the third-largest national total in the world. China has also attracted hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment and more than a trillion dollars of domestic nonpublic investment. A dozen years ago, China barely had mobile telecommunications services. Now it claims more than 300 million mobile-phone subscribers, more than any other nation. As of June 2004, nearly 100 million people there had access to the Internet.

That is 100 million accessing the Chinese version of the Internet don’t forget.

He goes on to outline 3 primary ‘grand’ strategies:

The first strategy is to transcend the old model of industrialization and to advance a new one. The old industrialization was characterized by rivalry for resources in bloody wars and by high investment, high consumption of energy, and high pollution. Were China to follow this path, it would harm both others and itself. China is instead determined to forge a new path of industrialization based on technology, economic efficiency, low consumption of natural resources relative to the size of its population, low environmental pollution, and the optimal allocation of human resources. The Chinese government is trying to find new ways to reduce the percentage of the country’s imported energy sources and to rely more on China’s own. The objective is to build a “society of thrift.”

The second strategy is to transcend the traditional ways for great powers to emerge, as well as the Cold War mentality that defined international relations along ideological lines. China will not follow the path of Germany leading up to World War I or those of Germany and Japan leading up to World War II, when these countries violently plundered resources and pursued hegemony. Neither will China follow the path of the great powers vying for global domination during the Cold War. Instead, China will transcend ideological differences to strive for peace, development, and cooperation with all countries of the world.

The third strategy is to transcend outdated modes of social control and to construct a harmonious socialist society. The functions of the Chinese government have been gradually transformed, with self-governance supplementing state administration. China is strengthening its democratic institutions and the rule of law and trying to build a stable society based on a spiritual civilization. A great number of ideological and moral-education programs have been launched.

He concludes:

China does not seek hegemony or predominance in world affairs. It advocates a new international political and economic order, one that can be achieved through incremental reforms and the democratization of international relations. China’s development depends on world peace — a peace that its development will in turn reinforce.

Is it just me or does that sound really really nice, but just not very believable?

2 thoughts on “China's "Peaceful Rise" to Great-Power Status”

  1. God I better learn Chinese fast! Sounds like it’s going to be a Utopia. I’m actually slightly worried about Chinas growth.

    As for their aim to develop in an environmentally friendly way using minimal resources, I very much doubt it.

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