Is the growing prosperity of China a threat or a contribution to world peace? This question should not need to be asked, but it frequently is because of repeated mentions of the so-called "China threat."
The white paper entitled "China's Road to Peaceful Development," released yesterday by the Information Office of the State Council, provides an answer.
It is quite natural for the country to choose peaceful development, having suffered humiliation and oppression at the hands of Western powers from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. As Chinese sage Confucius said, you should never do to others what you do not want others to do to you. That explains why China seeks a peaceful path for its development.
A peaceful world is essential if the nation is to realize its dream of becoming a prosperous country.
China has already benefited from world peace in the past two decades since it adopted opening-up and economic reform policies in the late 1970s.
Per-capita GDP grew from less than US$300 in 1978 to US$1,400 by the end of 2004. With less than 10 percent of the world's farmland, China has provided its huge population of 1.3 billion with enough food. More than 220 million farmers have shaken off the shackles of poverty.
The country's economic development has also improved the health of the world economy. Statistics from the World Bank show the contribution of China's economic growth to that of the global economy averaged 13 percent from 2000 to 2004.
China imported commodities worth US$500 billion annually during the period from December 2001 to September 2005, having created 10 million jobs for other countries and regions.
In the next few years, annual imports are expected to surpass US$600 billion and will eventually exceed US$1 trillion, making an even greater contribution to the growth of the world economy.
China is a responsible nation in terms of maintaining world peace and managing world affairs. It has already joined more than 130 inter-governmental and international organizations and participated in 267 multilateral conventions and treaties. It has been involved in international co-operation in peacekeeping missions, combating terrorism and arms proliferation, environmental protection, disarmament and human rights.
To maintain good relations with its neighbors, China has signed treaties with 12 countries concerning demarcation of borderlines and has thus solved historical territorial disputes with these countries.
Having been involved in more than 1,000 aid projects, the nation has provided 110 countries or regions with economic assistance. At the same time, it has deducted or exempted a total of 16.6 billion yuan (US$2 billion) of 44 countries' debts.
The nation has made great efforts to keep its development sustainable. The number of thermo power plants has increased remarkably, but the levels of smoke and dust emissions are the same as in 1980. From 1980 to 2000, the nation's GDP quadrupled, while its consumption of energy resources doubled. The nation is well aware of what over-consumption of energy resources and poor environmental conditions mean to the entire world.
Still a developing country, China has many obstacles to overcome on the path to becoming a developed nation. The government and its people are quite clear that China must depend on itself to solve its own problems.
As early as 1974, when China took up its seat at the United Nations once more, Deng Xiaoping said to the world that China would never seek hegemony.
The inter-dependence of China and the rest of the world benefits both sides. A peaceful world is in the interests of China, while a prosperous China contributes to the growth of the world economy.
Following this logic, it is clear China has no reason to seek hegemony or become a threat, either economically or militarily, to the rest of the world.
(China Daily December 23, 2005)