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China's Rise Drives Region's Emergence

China's rise is just part of a bigger Asian story. And the rise of Asia is giving vital impetus to the world economy as well as providing a new model of peaceful coexistence that overcomes social and cultural differences, Chinese and foreign officials and policy advisors said at a high-level conference in Boao on Friday.

"In today's world, China is not the only country that is rising peacefully. China's emergence is part of Asia's emergence," said Zheng Bijian, chairman of the China Reform Forum, at the conference titled, "China's peaceful rise and the new role of Asia." Zheng's forum, the Boao Forum for Asia and the New York-based Asia Society co-organized the conference.

Zheng said the East Asia region, which mainly covers China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is responsible for a considerable part of global economic growth and has shown great development potential. And South Asia, led by India, is fast catching up.
The region's collective reactions to a series of crises since 1997 have shown that co-operation in East Asia has surmounted, is surmounting and will surmount cultural and social differences, Zheng said.

Speakers at the conference said that Asia's development has defied traditional scenarios for an emerging country or region.

"Perhaps the strongest reason for optimism (over the region) is that it is no longer true that rising powers must inevitably confront existing powers in either an acrimonious rivalry or in overtly belligerent competition," said Michael Rich, executive vice-president of Rand Corp, a US-based think tank.

Fortunately, many nations around the globe, particularly here in Asia, have demonstrated there is a superior way to create prosperity and power: through indigenous and mutual reinforcement of economic growth, Rich said.

In the case of China, its "dramatic growth in global stature has come from its peaceful economic development, the government's decisiveness in managing difficult development problems, and the consequent improvement in the lives of its citizens, not from its military power or geopolitical assertiveness," he said.

Jerome Monod, chief political advisor to French President Jacques Chirac, offered his observations on China's emergence.

China's rise has come about through participation in economic globalization, competition with others in the world market and recognition of a world system that is mutually beneficial to all, he said.

"I believe China's peaceful rise is something to emulate and not to fear. This indeed, is unquestionable for me," he added.

But why does China want its development to be peaceful? Lee Kuan Yew, respected statesman and Singapore's Minister Mentor proffered an explanation.

He said China's leaders since Deng Xiaoping have experienced all or a large part of China's tumultuous history over the past century and know very well the costs of conflict and confrontation, domestic or international.

But China's path of future development will not be smooth. There are still many problems to deal with, participants agreed.

Zheng said the major challenges China faces include energy shortages, environmental problems, and the conflict between short-term goals such as technology upgrades, job creation, reform and stability.

China's answer to these problems is a set of strategies that include the promotion of more efficient industrial growth; active participation in economic globalization and continuous social reforms, he said.

(China Daily April 24, 2005)


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