A giant panda climbs a tree at Shenyang Forest Zoological Garden on Jan 9. [Photo/Xinhua]
Editor’s note: A rising number of media reports say a new Western coalition may be in the making to counter China’s rise and its increasing “sharp power”. Is it true? What are the causes of the conflicts between China and some major Western countries? Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily’s Pan Yixuan. Experts follow:
No need to overreact, over disagreements
The existing US alliances with some major countries may not necessarily be targeted at China. Perhaps their vigilance on China has strengthened because of the country’s astounding development pace. For example, former US president Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was an economic version of North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And the “Indo-Pacific” strategy US President Donald Trump has proposed — with Japan, Australia and India — might play the same role as TPP.
Besides, the ideological differences have also driven Western countries to treat China differently. China is still developing much faster than many people’s expectations. In contrast to many major economies struggling to cope with the post- global financial crisis slowdown, China has maintained a steady and sustainable growth momentum.
Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative and President Xi Jinping’s efforts to build a community of shared future for humankind, China is much closer to global center stage than ever before. Hence, some Western countries consider China a challenge to the world order led by the United States.
Also, Japan and India could become less friendly toward China, partly because of their imbalanced economic development. Japan used to be the largest economy in Asia, but today it is facing many economic and demographic challenges — fast aging population for instance — which are obstructing its growth. Like China, India is also a large developing, but it has a big development gap with China. So it is natural that a rising China will have differences and conflicts with some other countries.
Therefore, China and other countries should make concerted efforts to keep the disputes under control, so as to help make the world order more fair and stable. It is also important for China to take measures that would enable the world to understand China will remain committed to peace.
Tao Jian, head of the University of International Relations
Using cooperation to build confidence
That some Western countries’ conflicts with China are increasing is a worrying trend, but all sides should be cautious enough to not fall into the “Cold War” trap. After the end of the Cold War, the West became more open toward China and its economy, with China adhering to socialism with Chinese characteristics to make unprecedented economic achievements. Now, China is shifting from quantity to quality growth.
China has also made big contributions to global governance, which have further increased in the past years thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative. The initiative is not only fueling economic growth in all the involved countries but also improving local people’s well-being. But the West may not appreciate such public products provided by China.
The world is paying greater attention to China because its increasing cooperation with other countries is yielding more and more mutual benefits. So Beijing should use its economic advantage to take steps that would enable other countries to better understand China.
Also, China should be careful about how it presents itself to the outside world. For example, it should let the world know its development model is not a nationalistic concept aimed at just boosting its economy — the model suits its national conditions but still it has been learning from the good experiences and good practices of other countries. More important, as an important member of the international society, China will remain committed to developing with other countries through cooperation.
Wang Yiwei, Jean Monnet chair professor at Renmin University of China
Beijing plays positive role on world stage
Since the global situation has changed, no one country can claim to be superior to the others. According to the 2017 US National Security Strategy report, Washington sees Beijing as a rival — rather than an economic partner and competitor with whom it may have occasional differences.
Besides, the US has launched several anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against Chinese products. And even though China is the European Union’s second-largest trade partner, the EU has joined the US to deny that China is a market economy.
Last year, Australia claimed China is interfering in its internal affairs despite having very few differences with China.
Misunderstandings over a rising China co-exist with the age-old Western bias against China. For example, the aim of the Belt and Road Initiative is not to project China as a big geopolitical player, but the West is not convinced. In contrast, given its remarkable comprehensive development, China is willing to further contribute to global development.
Although anti-globalization sentiments in some parts of the world have made the world more complicated while also resulting in Brexit, cooperation and talks still work.
And Xi’s efforts to strengthen global governance, including building a community of shared future for all humankind and the Belt and Road Initiative, have been acknowledged worldwide, which means China’s voice is being widely heard and this is good for regional and global development.
Han Feng, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences