Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has reiterated the country's commitment to a policy of peaceful development that will benefit its neighbors and the world, but what is the evidence and how is the policy perceived at home and abroad?
Raymond Lim, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry of Singapore, said China's "make neighbors prosper" thinking is not only forward-looking but also contributes to regional economic integration, stability and prosperity.
"The emergence of China has unavoidably led to short-term disruptions in the economies of many countries. Hence, it is important that China actively continues trade and economic cooperation with neighbors, which will benefit both China and the region," said Lim.
The policy derives from the thoughts of "common prosperity" that China applied in domestic economic development, said Su Changhe, associate professor, Institute on China and International Organization, Fudan University.
Premier Wen Jiabao, for the first time, named the policy as the "peaceful rising" during his speech at Harvard late last year. Chinese President Hu Jintao reiterated the policy in his visit to Europe and Africa early this year.
"Peaceful rising" means that when a nation is maturing, it doesn't seek hegemony, instead it resolves disputes mainly through multilateral cooperation, said Su.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing further clarified the policy at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) that started on March 5. "The colonialist nations or imperialism powers expanded through plundering and exploiting other nations. Unlike them, we want to develop ourselves in a peaceful way.
"People shall have a new concept of security which relies on mutual trust, benefit and fair negotiation. In fact, China's development will be China's biggest contribution to the world's peace and development," the minister told the conference.
Leading Japanese economist Fujii Hirofumi said China's continued prosperity will provide strong momentum for Japan and even other Asian countries.
Japan's exports to China grew steadily in the past few years and last year rose sharply by 38.7 percent, creating an export surplus of US$14.8 billion. Booming trade with China was a possible factor for the economic revival in Japan last year, whose exports to the United States dropped by 9.8 percent.
In 2003, China's trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grew by 40 percent and is likely to reach US$100 billion in 2005.
China's foreign trade with another big neighbor India also rose fast and the sum is to hit US$10 billion by 2005.
Increasing foreign trade indicates Asian neighbors are more involved in China's market, which will surely create more jobs for themselves, said Meng Honghua, researcher with the institute of China's situation, Tsinghua University.
China has a population of 1.3 billion, a huge market that becomes an important premise for the "peaceful rising" strategy, said Zhu Mingquan, experienced scholar on international affairs with Fudan University.
China's Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita surpassed US$1,000 for the first time last year, which indicates the stronger consumption power of Chinese people. The thousands of Chinese tourist groups are regarded as an important source of revenue for tourist nations in Southeast Asian countries, said Zhu.
"The implementation of peaceful rising is not confined to the economic realm", he added.
China is also a more active participant in other fields of international cooperation in recent years such as the fight against trans-national crime, anti-nuclear proliferation campaigns and counter-terrorism.
Beijing hosted the second round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue last month. US officials considered that the result of the meeting to be positive and China had made an unique contribution to the peaceful process to the resolution for the issue.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2004)