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China's peaceful rise is all about soft power|
By Shi Yinhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-14 07:05
China is seeking to become a sustainable major power rather than a fast-rising, then fast-declining one.
A peaceful rise relies primarily on resources of non-military power. These include economic power, foreign trade, diplomatic and cultural power and esteem from successful national development as well as persuasive power. The rise can be characterized as non-violent, gradually building and mutually beneficial. It is most unlikely to set off strong resistance, and while minimizing costs it generates results that are most likely to be "win for all".
The peaceful rise has been clearly shown in the operation of the Chinese government's US policy. China's set of principles for Sino-US ties is increasingly coherent, mature and efficient.
Generally speaking, it is for China to keep on securing its critical interests and developing its strength while preventing the US from feeling strongly challenged. This involves paying particular attention to the confrontational aspects of bilateral ties, making more efforts to build up confidence, reduce suspicion and make compromises if necessary.
The United States has run into serious challenges since 9/11, particularly with the war in Iraq. This situation is the result of cross-national terrorism and the post-war crisis in Iraq, which have led to a major containment of the US.
Even so, it is wrong to believe that China's rise is made possible by US inability to mind the east. Suppose the US had not been mired in the tremendous aftermath of cross-national terrorism and the war in Iraq. It would still have been faced with China's impressive development, which started nearly 30 years ago.
Even if the US had not suffered from such containment, it would have been impossible to prevent China's rapid rise. China's development has relied primarily on "soft power", including such peaceful areas as economic development, foreign trade and diplomatic power.
The US made the colossal mistake of adopting a China containment strategy featuring the deployment of military forces and the strengthening of military alliances.
Since the adoption of the revised guidelines for the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1996, the US has been beefing up its military strength and military alliances in the mid- and western Pacific region primarily aimed at China.
China, however, is doing its best to encourage more coordination and cooperation with the US and to try to get the US to adapt to China's development.
Some mid- to long-term structural differences between China and the US are becoming more profound. These differences could ruin the future of Sino-US relations if allowed to explode.
In order to enhance the prospect of the US accepting China as a global power, China needs to pay the utmost attention to the structural differences between the two countries. It needs to extend the range and depth of bilateral consultation over international political and major global issues and develop mutually beneficial economic exchanges and strategic cooperation.
At least in the next few years, the most important thing China needs to focus on is the increasingly significant issue of bilateral trade. Tackling this issue both on the surface and deep down is of extreme importance to securing a favorable external environment for China's development.
China must do its best to prevent China-oriented pressure from trade protectionist groups in the US from growing out of control. It must prevent major Western economic entities from concluding that principles of free trade should be abandoned.
China also needs to uphold a basic national strategy - military modernization follows the strategic direction and serves the needs of a peaceful rise. China should also work harder to reduce the growing disagreements among Western countries on environmental protection.
The key to the rise of a major power is creativity. A new trend that is very likely to be of global historic significance is emerging in China - the theories of the peaceful rise to power and a harmonious world.
In the past 30 years or so, a number of acclaimed writings on the theories of international relations have pointed out that the basic nature of international relations was undergoing a significant change.
The value of war as a means of securing national interests is rapidly declining. The major concern in international relations is irreversibly shifting from territorial and military issues to economic and soft power issues. The rate and impact of interdependence in the international economy is increasing. A country's achievements in economy, culture, diplomacy and morality and justice are generally gaining more credit than military affairs. At the same time, various cross-national non-conventional threats are growing in prominence.
Amid such changes, the rise of China as a major trading state and its contribution of the harmonious world theory are undoubtedly advancing the worldwide trend to soft power.
The author is professor of international relations at Renmin University of China
(China Daily 06/14/2007 page10)