Sticking to a Path of Peaceful Development

By Dai Bingguo, State Councilor of the State Council of China

Sticking to the path of peaceful development is the brand-new development path put forward by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Hu Jintao as the general secretary on the basis of the features of the times, China’s national conditions, domestic and international situations, and developmental experiences and lessons from other major countries. This is a major decision on China’s developmental strategy and a major statement of China’s external strategy.

1. Why has China chosen the path of peaceful development?

Sticking to the path of peaceful development is not an impulsive decision. On the contrary, it is a carefully considered choice based on our analysis of the great changes that have taken place in the world, in China and in China’s relations with the rest of the world. We realize we must adapt to changing situations and follow a path that suits the trend of world development and China’s national conditions.

The world is undergoing extensive and profound changes. Economic globalization and development of information technology are gaining momentum. Science and technology are advancing fast. The world is getting smaller and has become a global village. Countries are more closely linked and interdependent and their interests are more closely integrated than ever before. There are more areas of common interest and more issues calling for joint responses. Various countries want to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation more than ever before. To some extent, the world has become a community of interests. No country, even the most powerful, can stand alone and survive. The behavior of one country will have an impact not only on itself, but also on other countries. Selfish practices of conquering or threatening others by force, or seeking development space and resources by non-peaceful means are losing ground. It has also become very unpopular for countries to identify friends or foes on the basis of ideology and gang up under various pretexts seeking dominance in world affairs. In response to increasing risks and challenges, the international community has opted for peace, development and cooperation, which is the irresistible trend of the times. Countries should consider themselves passengers in the same boat and cross the river peacefully together instead of fighting one another and trying to push one another out of the boat.

China is undergoing extensive and profound transformation. Its relations with the rest of the world have also undergone historic changes. If we fail to manage well our relations with the rest of the world, we might miss the development opportunities provided by the overall peace in the world, relative stability in relations between major countries and rapid progress in new science and technology revolutions in the first 20 years of the new century.

2. What is the path of peaceful development?

In my view, there are five features of this path.

First, the peaceful nature of development. China will not engage in the invasion, plunder, war or expansion that Western powers used to practice. Our strength will be harnessed to serve world peace and integrate development with peace.

Second, the independent nature of development. Independence is the fundamental feature of China’s diplomacy. Self-reliance is our great tradition. Over the past 30 years and more, in our efforts to develop the country, we have mainly relied on reform and opening up, our own wisdom and hard work, expanding domestic demand and transforming economic growth pattern.

Third, the scientific nature of development. In accordance with the requirements of the Scientific Outlook on Development, which put people first and pursue comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development, we have intensified efforts to promote sound and rapid economic development, and the building of a harmonious society, with a view to securing a sound domestic environment for peaceful development.

Fourth, the cooperative nature of development. China is a member of the international community. It best serves its own and others’ interests to cooperate with others, and share interests and responsibilities. In external relations, we advocate friendship instead of animosity, cooperation instead of confrontation, trust instead of suspicion, and treating each other as equals instead of imposing one’s will on others.

Fifth, common development. China’s national interests are consistent with the common interests of mankind. In developing itself, China aims to achieve common development with other countries and never does anything at the expense of others.

3. What is China’s direction and strategic intention?

China’s strategic intention is not as complex or unfathomable as some people may think, nor are there any hidden agendas or ambitions.

China’s strategic intention can be defined in two words: Peaceful development, i.e. harmony and development at home and peace and cooperation abroad. This is what we must focus on and achieve–not just this generation but for generations to come. This is a policy that will not change in 100 years or 1,000 years. To be specific, we need to achieve the goal by peaceful means, by continued reform and improvement of our own system, and through hard work, creativity and ingenuity of the Chinese people, and long-term friendly coexistence, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. In this way, the Chinese people, accounting for one fifth of the world’s population, will rid themselves of poverty and lead better lives. In this way, China will develop into a country where people are contented, society is harmonious and political, economic, cultural and environmental development proceeds in a balanced way. In this way, China will become a most responsible and law-abiding member of the international community. In this process, we will develop socialist democracy and a political system in light of China’s national conditions. In a word, the Chinese people have suffered long enough from poverty. Our greatest and only strategic intention is to live better lives, where every day is better than the previous one. We wish the same for the entire world’s people. The CPC has termed this process “peaceful development” and the ways and means to achieve peaceful development “the path of peaceful development.”

4. How do we view China’s development?

After more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China has achieved remarkable progress in its economic and social development. In recent years, in particular, China’s development has attracted even greater international attention. Many think China is already a developed country, on a par with the United States. This view indicates the path of peaceful development can lead a nation to development and we have made the right choice. But it also shows a lack of comprehensive, in-depth understanding of the level of China’s development. The reality is that China’s GDP, however big it may grow, must be shared among 1.3 billion people.

China has a huge population and a weak economic foundation. Urban-rural gaps, imbalances in industrial structure and underdevelopment of productivity are issues yet to be fundamentally addressed. In whatever sense, China is big in terms of population but small in terms of economy. It is a developing country in every sense of the term. The economic and social problems we face are the biggest and most difficult in the world. We have no reason whatsoever to be conceited or arrogant. Our road to real development and a better life for our people will be long and hard. This will require unremitting efforts from several generations or even more. Even if China becomes stronger, it will remain a member of the developing world.

5. Will China seek hegemony when it becomes more developed?

This concern is unfounded. Opposition to hegemony has been written into China’s Constitution and the Constitution of the CPC. Probably, no other big country or political party in the world has ever done that. In terms of history, China has no culture or tradition of seeking expansion or hegemony. In terms of world development, the revitalization of a country in the era of economic globalization can be achieved successfully through equal and orderly international competition and mutually beneficial cooperation. It is no longer necessary or possible to take the old path of challenging either existing international order or other countries. Never seeking leadership, never competing for supremacy and never seeking hegemony are our basic national policies and our strategic choice.

Some say China wants to replace the United States and dominate the world. That is simply a myth. Politically, what we practice is socialism with Chinese characteristics. We do not export our social system or development model and we respect the choice of the people of other countries. Economically, we focus all our efforts on development. We are happy to see lasting prosperity and development in all other countries and we pursue common progress. Militarily, we reject any arms race.

We do not seek hegemony and will never compete with other countries for leadership in our region, seek so-called “joint hegemony” or follow the so-called Monroe Doctrine. We hope what other countries do in Asia is not aimed at keeping off, containing or harming China.

In short, the Chinese entertain good-will and China is a responsible nation. We respect others, but do not allow others to bully us. We are developing socialist democracy based on our national conditions. We value, respect and protect human rights. We may encounter many difficulties on our way forward, but we will never waver in reform and opening up. We will always keep an open mind and learn from others. In our relations with other countries, we will seek equality, harmonious coexistence, mutual benefit and common development. Ours is a country that follows the path of peaceful development and treats others with candor and sincerity. The world may feel reassured and confident in dealing with a country such as China.

6. How will a rapidly developing China handle its relations with other countries?

We have basic principles in our external relations, which have proven effective during the past decades. First, we follow the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. To be specific, we reject interference in others’ internal affairs and the use or threat of use of force and we do not enter into alliances with any country. Second, we follow a win-win strategy of opening up and never adopt a beggar-thy-neighbor policy. We value, develop and protect common interests and strive to make the pie of common interests bigger and better. Third, we stand for settlement of disputes and conflicts through dialogue and negotiation and by seeking common ground while shelving differences. That is what we have been doing during past years.

No development path should be chosen at the expense of major national interests, core interests in particular. What are China’s core interests? My personal understanding is: First, China’s form of government and political system and stability, namely the leadership of the CPC, the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristics. Second, China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity. Third, the basic guarantee of sustainable economic and social development for China. These interests brook no violation.

7. How will China use its growing power and influence?

The objective of China’s development boils down to one sentence: To build a harmonious society at home and help build a harmonious world abroad. This means China will first of all be responsible to its 1.3 billion people and also responsible to people across the world and world peace and development so that the fruits of China’s development benefit both its own people and the international community. There is misunderstanding about “giving top priority to China’s development.” Some people take it as a sign of China’s ducking international obligations. In fact, since the beginning of the reform and opening up, the CPC has made it one of its three tasks historically to uphold world peace and promote common development. In recent years, the Party has further introduced the idea of building a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity. We are paying greater attention to and increasing our input in international and regional affairs. First, China has taken an active part in joint responses to global issues such as energy, food, climate change, terrorism, natural disasters, infectious diseases and financial crisis as well as the settlement of regional hotspot issues such as the Korean and Iranian nuclear issues, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Darfur issue in Sudan. Second, China is active in the building of the international system. China has been a responsible player in the international system. It is a beneficiary as well as a builder and contributor. The current international system is not perfect and should be reformed and improved to keep pace with changing times so as to be fairer and more rational. China is ready to play a more active role in this process, including the making and improvement of international rules and will continue to assume international responsibilities and obligations commensurate with its national strength. Third, China has actively promoted its development agenda in the interests of world prosperity and progress.

8. How is the path of peaceful development related to socialism with Chinese characteristics?

These are two sides of the same coin. On one side, the path of peaceful development is intrinsic to socialism with Chinese characteristics. At the end of the day, a country’s choice of development path is determined by the nature of its system. The innate greed of capitalist society and capital determined the rise of Western powers was accompanied by aggression and expansion, full of blood and violence. China, a socialist country, is committed to the goal of prosperity, social justice, national development and world peace. China will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come, and the mismatch between people’s increasing material and cultural needs and backward production is still our major problem. This fact dictates that we must constantly put development on top of the agenda in the Party’s effort to rule and revitalize the country, and create a stable international environment of lasting peace; it also determines that “in pursuing socialism, we should constantly raise productivity and advocate peace.” (Deng Xiaoping). On the other side, the path of peaceful development is an integral part of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which manifests itself in many respects, such as in economic, political, cultural, social, ecological and other fields. And its manifestation in external relations is the path of peaceful development. In other words, peaceful development represents the basic nature, features, content of and means to achieve socialism with Chinese characteristics in external relations. To hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics means we should hold high the banner of peace, development and cooperation and never waiver in taking the path of peaceful development.

9. What is the relationship between the path of peaceful development and the building of a harmonious world?

To stick to the path of peaceful development is to make known to the world how China is to realize development and revitalize itself. It represents essentially the choice of the development path and the Party’s strategy. To promote the building of a harmonious world is telling about the kind of world and international order China is committed to building. It represents essentially the international order and code of conduct our Party advocates. A commitment to the path of peaceful development is the basis and prerequisite of building a harmonious world while the latter is the inevitable need of the former. China upholds the unity of the two and advocates both patriotism and internationalism. By taking the path of peaceful development, the Chinese people, accounting for one fifth of the world population, can lead better lives, which will be a tremendous contribution to mankind and make the world a more harmonious place. The commitment to the path of peaceful development and the building of a harmonious world serve as each other’s condition and are mutually reinforcing and they cannot be separated artificially.

10. Will China’s path of peaceful development lead to its desired outcome?

It will. The world may have noticed in the past 30 years, we have broken the precedent of emerging powers engaging in plunder, aggression and rivalry for hegemony by opening a whole new path in the time of globalization–the path of peaceful development through hard work, wisdom and win-win cooperation. It has been proven by practice that, as we pursue reform and opening up to stay in line with the trend of economic globalization, building friendly partnerships with other countries through peaceful development and international cooperation, properly handling various problems and frictions, playing a constructive role in international affairs, moving the international order in a fair and rational direction, we will be able to open a path of peaceful development in line with the trends of the time. This road will lead to a bright future.

Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: Tel: 86-10-88828000