On October 30th, 2008, H.E. Mr. Zhang Junsai, the Chinese Ambassador to Australia, delivered a speech entitled China’s Path of Peaceful Development and Its View of Regional Security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. Over 60 scholars and officials attended the seminar and his speech was covered the next day by several major media.
Ambassador Zhang elaborated on China’s path of peaceful development and he explained “taking the path of peaceful development is China’s inevitable choice based on its cultural tradition, national realities and the trend of the time. “
The major points he made in his speech are as follows:
Peaceful development is the soul of the Chinese culture. And in China, people usually use just one word “和” to summarize the Chinese culture. That means the peace between nations, the harmony between people and the harmonious co-existence between mankind and the nature.
Those ideas, like “Harmony is precious” and “Seeking harmony without uniformity”, existed in China since the ancient time. “Harmony is precious” means that unity, mutual help and friendly co-existence should be upmost aspiration among nations, races and peoples. “Seeking harmony without uniformity” means that a nation or a race should be tolerant of other cultures while preserving the essence of its own culture and traditions. Confucius once briefly pointed out the benefits of harmony. And he said, harmony brings cooperation and cooperation brings prosperity.
Peaceful development is the realistic requirement based on China’s national realities. Since China adopted the policy of reform and opening-up 30 years ago, it has made huge achievements within the peaceful and stable global context, becoming the fourth largest economy in the world. The fact is: China’s development has benefited from a peaceful world, and in turn China’s development has contributed to peace in the world.
However, China remains a developing country. Its per capita GDP is listed behind 100 nations in the world. And China still has 15 million people in total living in absolute poverty, and some 20 million people every year to join the labor market. The serious challenges China is facing have specified its core task. That is to promote its economic and social development and continuously improve its people’s living standards. Without any doubt, China needs a peaceful global environment for further development.
The theme “harmony” was also adopted in the recent opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, which showed the sincere desire of the Chinese people to pursue peace in the world.
Peaceful development is also consistent with the trend of the time. It is the common wishes of peoples across the world to maintain peace, to promote development and seek cooperation. Any nation wishing to fulfill its development goal must follow the developing trends of the world. China firmly maintains the view that only when all nations achieve development and make progress, will the world become stable and secure. China is willing to work with other nations to accomplish common development on the principle of win-win results and universal benefits.
The path of peaceful development is no makeshift for China, but a long-term strategy China is determined to uphold. This tells that China will develop itself through maintaining and promoting the world peace, and at the same time, it will strive to maintain and promote the world peace through its own development. China’s adherence to the path of peaceful development has shaped its view of Asia-Pacific regional security. And China is committed to maintaining regional peace and stability, and achieving the common development of itself and the region at large.
When talking about the trend in Asia-Pacific region and about China’s view on the region’s security, Ambassador Zhang pointed out that the world today is undergoing tremendous changes and adjustments. As one of the most dynamic regions in the world, the Asia-Pacific region has seen the rapid development of regional and sub-regional cooperative mechanisms. The overall situation in the region is stable, but there are quite a few difficulties and challenges.
The region is plagued by both historical problems, such as the cloud of the Cold War, the territorial, ethnic and religious issues which have long existed, and new problems like the increasingly prominent problems of terrorism, transnational crimes, natural disasters and the spread of infectious diseases. It has to face such problems as imbalanced development, widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor, sharp increase in energy and resources consumption as well as ecological and environmental deterioration. It has not only suffered the global financial crisis, but also undergone domestic turbulence in some countries. These intertwined problems have affected and restrained the stability and development of the region.
China strongly believes that any nation’s security should not be acquired at the cost of others. It is in the common interests of countries across the region to build a harmonious and stable Asia-Pacific. Therefore, China actively advocates the New Concept of security, and believes countries in the region should achieve common security and common development through dialogue and cooperation based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and coordination.
China is vigorously seeking settlement of issues with its neighbors through peaceful negotiation. China has 14 neighboring countries, and has resolved the land boundary issues with most of them.
Two weeks ago, China and Russia held a ceremony to unveil the boundary markers for eastern section of China-Russia boundary. It was the final step toward resolving the boundary dispute of 4300 kilometers long between the two countries.
Last June, China and Japan reached joint development understanding over the East China Sea. The agreement indicates the two sides are both committed to the stability of the East China Sea and seeking cooperation and win-win results.
On issues related to the South China Sea, China has put forward the principle “Set aside dispute and pursue joint development”, and continuously expanded the common interests with the countries concerned. All these have proved once and again that peaceful dialogue and consultation on an equal footing are a proper and effective way to settle sensitive and complicated issues.
China sees the economic exchange and interaction as an important access to a lasting security in the region. And China has actively participated in regional and sub-regional economic cooperation among those including APEC, 10+3 and Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program.
Especially under the framework of 10+3, China has worked with other countries to push forward the cooperation in the fields of political security, economy and trade, social culture, environment and climate change. During the 7th Asia-Europe Summit held recently in Beijing, China, Japan, Korea and ASEAN reached consensus on implementing Chiang Mai Initiative to facilitate foreign currency exchange between them in case of emergency. They promised to enhance coordination and cooperation to make joint efforts in fighting the global financial crisis.
The development of the regional economic cooperation mechanisms have not only brought real and tangible economic benefits to countries in the region, but also enhanced the mutual exchange, mutual trust and cooperation between all parties involved, thus contributing to the security and stability of the region.
China is in favor of pushing for the establishment and development of a regional security dialogue and cooperation mechanism. The key guarantee for the regional security comes from a regional security framework featuring dialogue instead of confrontation.
ASEAN Regional Forum is the primary official channel for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation, and has now started shifting gradually from the trust building measures to the preventive diplomacy. China holds that ARF should follow the concept of mutual respect, equal dialogue, consultation and cooperation, mutual benefits, maintain the leading role of ASEAN, focus on the real needs of the region and push forward the preventive diplomacy effectively. ARF should conduct preventive diplomacy mainly to guard against and cope with cross-border issues and non-traditional security challenges, especially strengthening dialogue and cooperation in the fields of disaster relief, fighting against cross-country crimes, anti-terrorism and marine security.
Ambassador Zhang expanded his views on reaching the common goal of regional security through strengthening cooperation among Asia-Pacific nations and he brought forth his personal suggestions as follows.
First, we should enhance our mutual trust. All nations in the region should expand communications to increase mutual trust, which is the basis and prerequisite for the regional security cooperation.
Second, we should respect the diversity of the region. During the process of the regional security cooperation, we have gradually gained some experiences and principles of cooperation such as consensus through consultation, gradual progress and proceeding at a pace comfortable to all. These experiences should be kept and the principles need to be maintained.
Third, we need to manage well relations between the regional multilateral security mechanisms. We should accelerate exchanges and contacts between those mechanisms, and reinforce each other by tapping fully their respective advantages, so as to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region.
Forth, we should advance steadily the establishment of new regional security mechanism. China is open to proposals and suggestions that are conducive to the regional security and peace.
Ambassador Zhang ended his speech by saying “China and Australia are both important countries in the region. And we should continue to strengthen our dialogue and consultation on important regional security issues. We should encourage other countries in the region to be actively involved to achieve common security and build a harmonious Asia-Pacific on the basis of mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and coordination.”