Two months ago, the heads of the five permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations gathered in New York during the United Nations Millennium Summit, at the proposal of China. Chinese President Jiang Zemin stood alongside the four other heads of state.
The historical moment demonstrated China's rising international status, after 100 years of highs and lows.
During the past century, the international political situation has changed a lot. Colonialism has been buried, turbulent national and democratic revolutions have been launched. Both capitalist and socialist countries have adjusted to the needs of the international environment.
China has grown from a weak nation into a powerful state, and an important nation in the international arena seeking peace and development.
The Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded China in 1900 and forced China to sign the International Protocol of 1901 the next year, which reduced China to a semi-colonial status. The Chinese bourgeois democratic revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the corrupt Qing Dynasty in 1911. However, the revolution failed to end China's weakness and restore its national pride.
Two world wars changed the global situation, but did not change China's international status even though it was on the side of victory. China became a permanent member of the UN Security Council, but it had no say in international affairs.
In 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), marking the beginning of a national renaissance and a starting point for China to regain its esteem.
During the 50 years since the PRC was established, the leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have safeguarded the state's independence.
China contended with the U.S., the most powerful country of the world this century, in the war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea. Peng Dehuai, who commanded the Chinese Volunteers in the war, said that the times have passed when Western aggressors can occupy a nation in the east simply by aiming a few guns at its coast.
In order to safeguard state sovereignty, Mao Zedong turned down the Soviet Union's offer to build a joint navy fleet and a long-wave radio station in China. China refused to be included in any actions leading to the global strategic dominance of one country.
Also in regard to state sovereignty, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, during the negotiations on the Hong Kong issue, that there is no room for discussion on the issue of sovereignty.
Chinese leaders have always adjusted domestic policy in accordance with changes in international situation.
China initiated the five principles for peaceful co-existence in the 1950s, and kept close contact with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In the 1970s, after the legendary "Ping-Pong diplomacy", China resumed its legitimate seat at the UN, and later the PRC forged diplomatic ties with the US.
China began to reduce its armed forces and launched a modernization drive in 1980s when Deng announced that peace and development are the two major themes of the world.
China has won the world's respect, as it resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao in 1997 and 1999 respectively.
China's current world status has risen a great deal, compared with the turn of last century. In 2000, Chinese President Jiang Zemin held his tenth meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in the past eight years, and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin four times. Jiang also held talks with French President Jacques Chirac three times in three days.
Moreover, China's views have been echoed around the world. The Chinese Government gave its view on globalization at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting; declared to reduce and exempt debts of 10 billion yuan (about US$1.2 billion) for African countries at the China-Africa Cooperation Forum; and safeguarded the authority of the UN at the United Nations Millennium Summit.
China has never conceded on fundamental issues. China opposes interference by Western countries in other country's internal affairs using human rights as an excuse. China has also worked with Russia and Belarus to safeguard the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) treaty.
China has become integrated into the whole world, having forged diplomatic ties with over 160 countries. Chinese cities have established friendship links with more than 800 overseas cities.Over 300 of the world's top 500 transnational companies have invested in China, one of the largest markets in the world.
China will continue to gain strength in the next century. Experts estimate that China's foreign trade volume, which currently ranks eleventh in the world, will double in the next five years, as China is about to enter the World Trade Organization.
(People’s Daily 12//18/2000)