Successfully Identifying a Path of Peaceful Development with Chinese Characteristics

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2013-02-19 10:38
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Following the Sixteenth National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee of the CPC made the strategic decision that China would remain committed to pursuing a path of peaceful development. This decision, which was based on the Central Committee’s analysis of contemporary themes and international trends, its accurate understanding of its position in history and China’s basic conditions, its penetrating review of China’s developmental experiences during the reform and opening up drive, as well as the lessons it has drawn from the rise and fall of other major countries, has since ushered in a new era of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics. 

I. The path of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics has emerged under the backdrop of profound changes in the relationship between China and the rest of the world

Coming into the 21st century, the world has witnessed twists and turns in economic globalization, the accelerated emergence of multipolarity, the increasing transformation of society by information technology, the dawn of new breakthroughs in a technological revolution, and new progress in the transformation of the international system. A number of international and regional hotspot issues remain unresolved, such as raging wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and a persisting financial crisis. There has been turmoil in West Asia and North Africa, and fierce strategic competition in the Asia-Pacific region. The number of global issues and common challenges has risen, and traditional safety threats have become increasingly intertwined with non-traditional threats. With the rise of emerging economies, the countries of the world are becoming more dependent on one another and their interests are becoming more closely integrated as the “global village” continues to take shape. The countries of the world must work together in order to address global issues and meet common challenges. Pursuing development through non-peaceful means will only lead to a dead end; the only viable approach to achieving development is through mutual assistance and mutually beneficial cooperation. The pursuit of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit has become an unstoppable trend of the contemporary era.

Coming into the 21st century, China’s relationship with the rest of the world has undergone historic changes. China has become the world’s second largest economy, with the country’s overall national strength and international prestige increasing by considerable margins. In addition, China’s comprehensive participation in economic globalization and regional cooperation, coupled with its deep involvement in international affairs and global governance, has allowed it to become both an important contributor to the international community and an important factor affecting the global landscape and international relations. China’s relationship with the rest of the world has never been so close, and the world’s expectations of China have never been so high.

China’s sustained, rapid development has captured the attention of the international community and been met with a range of different reactions. The different interpretations that have emerged with regard to China’s development, such as the view that China’s development presents opportunities, the view that China is a threat, and the view that China must assume greater responsibility, signal the concerns of the international community over the direction that China will go, the way that it will make use of its growing national strength, and the way that it will handle its relationship with the outside world. China is currently undergoing an important phase of transition in which the country is going from weak to strong and its mode of development is being transformed. At this important juncture, we need to be fully aware of the basic conditions of our country as well as our position in the international community, and use this as a basis for the formulation of correct foreign strategies and policies.

In response to the profound and complex changes that were occurring both domestically and internationally, General Secretary Hu Jintao emphasized the need to “adhere to a path of peaceful development” in the year 2004. In the year 2007, the words “unswervingly following the path of peaceful development” appeared in the report to the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC. The Chinese government issued white papers in 2006 and 2011 respectively to enunciate China’s path of peaceful development. Moreover, a series of important documents issued by the Party and the government have made “adhering to the path of peaceful development” the will of the country, turning it into a strategic plan and a guiding principle for the country.

Isaia Herimialy Ratsizakaina receives a warm welcome on her return to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, on July 28, 2012 after winning first prize in the 11th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Ding Haitao

II. The CPC has introduced a series of new ideas, new affirmations, and new concepts with regard to the path of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics. In doing so, it has laid down a new milestone for the international strategy of the Party and diplomatic theory with Chinese characteristics

Having taken full stock of China’s diplomatic experiences since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and especially since the launch of the reform and opening up drive, the CPC has responded actively to the concerns of the international community by systematically answering major questions such as what banner China will hold up in the world of the 21st century, what path it will follow, what strategy it will adopt, what goals it will pursue, how it will handle international relations, what kind of world it wishes to build, and how it will go about building that world. In doing so, the Party has sketched a basic outline for the path and strategy of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics.

The path of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics comprises of the following elements: striving for a peaceful international environment to underpin domestic development while relying on domestic development to safeguard world peace; achieving development through our own efforts, reforms and innovations while continuing to open up to the outside world and learn from the merits of other countries; working with other countries to achieve mutual benefit and mutual development by embracing the trends of economic globalization and regional economic integration; and being a constructive and responsible member of the international community and joining other countries in an effort to build a harmonious world with enduring peace and common prosperity.

The strategy of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics comprises of the following guiding principles: holding high the banner of peace, development and cooperation; unswervingly following the path of peaceful development; adhering to an independent foreign policy of peace; adopting an open strategy of mutual benefit; balancing domestic considerations with international ones; safeguarding national sovereignty, national security, and national development interests; engaging extensively in friendly cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence; and making joint efforts to build a harmonious world with enduring peace and common prosperity.

The goals of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics include the following: creating a peaceful international environment and favorable external conditions, so as to underpin China’s efforts to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society of a higher level to the benefit of over one billion people by the year 2020, and its efforts to make China a modern socialist country which is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by the middle of this century; and making a due contribution to world peace and common prosperity. These goals demonstrate a high level of unity between China’s domestic and international strategies.

The means of achieving peaceful development with Chinese characteristics include the following: The first is scientific development, which requires a continued commitment to comprehensive, balanced, and sustainable development; the second is harmonious development, which requires efforts to build a harmonious domestic society as well as efforts to promote the development of a harmonious world; the third is peaceful development, which requires that we follow a new path of development completely different from the path followed by traditional powers; the fourth is cooperative development, which requires the pursuit of mutual benefit through extensive international exchanges and cooperation; and the fifth is common development, which requires that we find a balance between safeguarding the interests of our own country, taking the interests of other countries into consideration, and furthering the common interests of humanity. 

The policies that must be implemented to achieve peaceful development with Chinese characteristics are as follows: carrying forward and developing our independent foreign policy of peace; introducing a series of systematic standpoints on promoting the development of a harmonious world; enriching the concepts of global governance and the reform of the international system; committing to the establishment of a just and equitable international order; seeking to promote mutually beneficial international development; proposing a new approach to security founded on the basis of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and collaboration; fulfilling international responsibilities in an active manner; engaging in friendly regional cooperation with neighboring countries; pursuing national interests while taking the interests of other countries into account; implementing a national defense policy of active defense; maintaining modest and prudent conduct in the international community; and developing our own approaches to international governance in regard to political, economic, cultural, security, financial, and environmental issues.

The path and strategy of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics represent both an essential requirement and an external manifestation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Peaceful development with Chinese characteristics fully conforms to the foreign policy that the Party and state have consistently implemented; to the cultural traditions of the Chinese people as a peace-loving nation; and to the trend of human progress in the era of globalization. 

III. Following a path of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics will by no means be plain sailing. This is a path that must be paved as we confront all kinds of difficulties and obstacles, and a path that we must follow with indomitable conviction

With the prospects for the global economic recovery still being unclear, international competition is set to become even more intense in the years ahead. Continued changes in the international balance of power, deepening strategic adjustments among the major powers, turbulence in the international security situation despite prevailing stability, fierce geopolitical strategic competition in the Asia-Pacific region, and increasingly complex and varied security challenges all indicate that the need to strengthen global and regional governance has become even more pressing. At a crucial stage of its transformation from a major country to a strong country, China will be confronted with more interference and hindrance as it works to achieve peaceful development. Striving to achieve its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China will not only enjoy various opportunities for development, but will also come up against unprecedented risks and challenges.

We need to hold high the banner of peace, development, and cooperation, safeguard world peace, and promote common development. We need to adhere to an independent foreign policy of peace, and develop friendly ties with foreign nations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We need to commit to an open strategy of mutual benefit, and seek to achieve mutual benefit with all countries in regard to political, economic, security, and cultural issues. We must continue to promote the development of a harmonious world, and engage in an untiring effort to achieve enduring peace and common prosperity. We must continue to balance domestic considerations with international ones, combine the fundamental interests of the Chinese people with the common interests of the peoples of the world, and promote peaceful development through scientific development.

China’s peaceful development depends not only on its own efforts, but also on the understanding and support of the international community. The success of the path of peaceful development with Chinese characteristics will signal a break away from a traditional model of development in which rising powers have always sought to dominate. It will present a new path of reinvigoration that the world’s major countries can follow, and guide human civilization into a new phase whereby the majority of people in the world are able to benefit from developmental progress. The international community should view the efforts that China is making to achieve peaceful development in the correct light, and have faith in the sincerity and determination of the Chinese people to follow a path of peaceful development. It should support and promote China’s efforts to achieve peaceful development, instead of hindering and interfering in these efforts. Undaunted by the hardships and obstacles that await us on the path ahead, we will overcome various forms of interference and stick to the path of peaceful development with indomitable determination.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.20, 2012)

Author: Deputy Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Work Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee

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