Zheng Bijian:China's Peaceful Rise and Opportunities for the Asia-Pacific Region
Origin:Boao Forum for Asia      Time:2013-12-13 14:53:33     Views:1008366

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was here last year and, against the backdrop of wave upon wave of theories about"China threats" and"China collapse", expounded on the fact that China's rise is a peaceful one and falls part of Asia's rise. I have noticed lately that people are quite interested in the topic of"China's peaceful rise" and have raised some very thought-provoking questions that deserve answers.

Today, I wish to further elaborate my observations on the topic in three aspects:

-- What is the nature of the path for China's peaceful rise?

-- What will China's peaceful rise bring to the Asia-Pacific region?

-- Where is the future of China and the Asia-Pacific region?

About the path for China's peaceful rise, I said last year it was not something new. It is a road of development first pioneered by Mr. Deng Xiaoping a quarter century ago.

I also said that the most fundamental features of this path were the commitment to development, the engagement in economic globalization and development without seeking hegemony.

Here I would like to reiterate one point. This is a path that departs from the beaten track of some big powers who rose through seeking and fighting for hegemony. That is to say, our experience in the past 25 years shows that we have found a brand new way to development.

This new path reflects our profound summarization of our own experience and that of other countries as well as our understanding of people's will. It also reflects the most important characteristics of Chinese-style socialism. One is developing productive forces, and the other is peace.

What will China's peaceful rise bring to the Asia-Pacific region?

Last year I mentioned two mathematic questions. One is multiplication; the other is division. The two questions illustrate the pressure and impetus brought to our development by China's huge population, and prove that we have to concentrate on our own development.

Today I will talk about two more mathematic questions. One is addition; the other is subtraction. The addition is: What a huge growth potential will it produce if a big market of 1.3 billion people and China's rapidly growing economy are added to the Asia-Pacific economy. The subtraction is: what a huge market vacuum will it be if the Chinese market of 1.3 billion people is subtracted from the Asia-Pacific market.

That is to say, China's peaceful rise and the sustained, rapid, coordinated and sound growth of China's economy will bring about tremendous historic opportunities, rather than threats, to the Asia-Pacific region. China is already a constructive force for peace and stability of the region, rather than a destructive force that challenges the regional order. This is fully testified by China's responsible behaviors in handling regional affairs.

In the process of peaceful rise, China is now cementing various sub-regional cooperation mechanisms and close economic links with its neighbors. Such a sub-regional system not only serves the needs of the developing countries in the region, but also provides a platform for big powers to play their due role in the region.

There is no denying that China's peaceful rise will somewhat intensify the competition in the region. But this is competition of friendship, cooperation, mutual benefit and win-win, not competition of arms buildup, or competition for spheres of influence or hegemony. None of us should miscalculate strategically on this point.

Now let us look at the future of China and the Asia-Pacific region.

At present, the world is undergoing tremendous and profound changes. With peace and development remaining the themes of the times, the Asia-Pacific region is faced with more development opportunities than other regions in the world amid the readjustment of big-power relationships. China's peaceful rise, in particular, will contribute to the creation of a win-win situation and common prosperity of the region. This is a general trend of the region in the first one or two decades of the 21st century.

First, Asia-Pacific countries are blessed with the same opportunities brought about by the strong economic growth of the region. Compared with most other regions, the Asia-Pacific has less wars and conflicts and most countries in the region are committed to their own development. To share these common opportunities, the Asia-Pacific region, the East Asia in particular, needs to form communities of common interests.

Second, the new threats we face mainly come from the non-traditional security areas. Such comprehensive and profound new challenges cannot be handled with the strength of a simple country. It takes our joint efforts to guard against and dissolve the present and prospective security threats. In this connection, security cooperation is becoming an effective way to maintain security in the Asia-Pacific region. The common challenges facing China and Asia-Pacific countries give rise to the necessity to establish communities of common interests that are conducive to all parties, different in content and multi-layered.

Third, it is necessary to emphasize that, in the process of peaceful rise, China has formed a new security concept that differs from any traditional security concepts. With"mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation" as its core notions, our new security concept firmly abandons the strategic framework under which big powers in the past vied for spheres of influence, went in for military confrontation or exported ideologies. The new security concept is a comprehensive and strategic concept with peaceful coexistence as its precondition, common interests as its basis, strategic cooperation as its bond and common development as its objective. History and reality have repeatedly proved that armed forces cannot make peace, and power politics cannot ensure security. The collective security achieved through cooperation by Asia-Pacific countries will surely lead to universal, lasting peace, and rapid, sustained development.

Finally, we are soberly aware that, given the huge area, large population and great differences in system and culture, it takes arduous efforts and a long time to realize integration and build mechanisms in the whole region. Nonetheless, we may start with the establishment of sub-regional mechanisms with different functions and features, and conduct flexible cooperation to achieve marked results.

All in all, the future of China and the Asia-Pacific region hinges on peace, development and cooperation. We are confident that so long as we work hand in hand, pull together and make all-out efforts, the lasting peace and sustained development of the Asia-Pacific region, the East Asia in particular, will surely have a promising future.

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