Time to Work With China’s Rise
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Time to Work With China’s Rise

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US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent four-day trip to China ended on a high note. He assured Chinese leaders that the United States is committed to honouring all of its debts, despite its recent credit downgrade; he talked enthusiastically about US-China interdependence; and he showcased his granddaughter, who has studied Chinese for several years, as a future bridge between the two countries.

But behind all the smiles and banquet toasts, serious issues and perception gaps continue to divide the world’s two great powers.

For a start, there’s always an attitude problem. To those who view China’s rise in a negative light, the country is simply becoming ever more arrogant. It is getting tough in its territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea; it’s becoming assertive in the South China Sea with its neighbours, also over disputed islands; it put its own stealth fighter on display during US Defence Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to China; it’s sending its first aircraft carrier out to sea for trials, indicating the possibility of establishing naval bases in the Indian Ocean. Even a brawl between the Chinese and a visiting American basketball team is viewed as evidence of China’s aggressive behaviour.

Many Chinese, on the other hand, tend to think that the United States is suffering from a severe case of conceited superpower syndrome. As these Chinese see it, the United States has a rather dysfunctional government, but still insists that its political and economic system is the best in the world, and that everyone should emulate it. It’s heavily in debt, but can’t stop spending and borrowing. It is no longer competitive in manufacturing, but blames others for its huge trade deficit. And the world’s only military superpower is often seen within China as trigger-happy when intervening in other countries’ internal affairs.

Then there’s the issue of trust. China’s critics argue that its claims to a peaceful rise aren’t credible, given the country’s non-democratic, one-party system. Coupled with this is a zero-sum view of the world, in which any Chinese gain in the share of the global economy, or any increased presence in many parts of the world, must be at the expense of the United States or other powers. Any Chinese military move is portrayed as an expansionary and aggressive act that must be contained. Any attempts at engagement by Western politicians, such as Biden’s recent trip, are automatically met with doubt and criticism for cozying up to dictators.

Likewise, for those Chinese who are suspicious of US intentions, conspiracy is always in play. They see a declining superpower using economic, military, and diplomatic means in an unrelenting effort to prevent China’s rise. Talk of human rights and democracy is nothing but a smoke screen for demonizing China. Arms sales to Taiwan, Tibetan activism, and ‘colour revolutions’ of various kinds are all sponsored by the United States and other Western powers, and are aimed at weakening China.

Despite decades of close interaction, with millions of Americans, Europeans, and Japanese visiting China every year and similar numbers of Chinese now visiting the US and other advanced countries, both sides see each other through a glass darkly. Increased interdependence hasn’t led to better understandings on even some of the most basic issues.

China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Fu Ying expressed her country’s anxiety about this state of affairs in a recent interview. ‘The most important thing is the question of whether China and the US are enemies. Are we going to be in a war? Are we preparing for a war against each other?’ Biden, while reaffirming that the United States doesn’t view China as an enemy, implied that Fu’s worries are not fanciful, saying that the worst scenario is a misunderstanding that leads to an unintended conflict.

So the key issue for China, its neighbours, the United States and rest of the world isn’t how many aircraft carriers, missiles, submarines, and next-generation fighters China may produce and deploy in the coming years and decades. Rather, it’s how China intends to use its newly acquired economic and military strength in pursuing its domestic and foreign-policy goals – and how the world’s leading powers can ensure that they do not end up harming each other by accident or misunderstanding.

To meet these challenges successfully, there is no viable alternative to a positive, continuous, and frank engagement between China and the rest of the world. The Chinese economy will continue to grow; the Chinese military will continue to modernize; and the Chinese people will remain united in their great power aspirations. A Cold War-style confrontation and containment policy from the West will be met with strong resistance from the Chinese, whose global leverage, particularly in finance, cannot be ignored.

Only a patient, creative, and consistent engagement strategy will mitigate fears on both sides. China’s rise is a fact; the enduring peacefulness of that rise must be a priority for China, its neighbours, the West, and, most importantly, the United States.

Wenran Jiang is Chair of the China Institute at the University of Alberta and Senior Fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. This article is an edited version of a piece that appeared with Project Syndicate that has been reproduced with the permission of the author.

Comments
54
Chinese
July 18, 2012 at 14:19

@aaron,
 
It's actually the other way around.
 
In the earlier days, ALL accusations were one way, from the West, directed at China.  Mainland Chinese had very good opinion of the West and anything Western.  No-one "demonises" the West.
 
All these verbal fighting is a response from the Chinese against all the non-stop senseless accusations coming from the West.  Its is people like YOU who IS constantly demonizing the Chinese.  NOT the other way around!
 
If someone is a "racist hypocrite", it is YOU and people like yourself !

Irresponsible Beijing
July 17, 2012 at 16:50

Whha..at?!!  Giving away territories?!!  Beijing leaders should be shot for selling out the country's integrity. They are forever living in their comfort zone.  Traitors!
 
Chung-guo-ren

Henry Lee
May 1, 2012 at 13:03

Quote “He assured Chinese leaders that the United States is committed to honouring all of its debts, despite its recent credit downgrade”.In my opinion, tis is a rubbish statement. In my opinion:How is USA going to? Except by way printing/ reating more money USD in bits and bytes in US banking system. At USD15 trillion aint no way USA will be able to do so, except by way of monetising/printing more worth less USD. The world has to accept that if the rest of the world want to continue to use USD as reserve currency

chimak
January 30, 2012 at 17:45

I completely agree: White are not making significance compensation to those minority with just delusional apologies. Simply just look at the world map. 55% of world land are occupied by White. We Asian (half of world population) only have 20%. The rise of China and India in 21th century are the chance for Asian to kick out some White back to Europe.

Tron
November 25, 2011 at 08:19

1972年,日本著名歷史學家 井上清 Kiyoshi Inoue 寫了 《釣魚島的歷史解析》 一書,該書再版為書名 《釣魚島歷史與主權》。

在該書中,井上清寫到:

1971年11月,我初次去冲繩旅行,在那裏收集了許多關于釣魚群島的歷史資料,1972年初,我又利用到西歐旅行的機會,去英國海軍資料館查閱了英國海軍繪制中國南部、臺灣和琉球方面的海圖,航海日志以及探險記錄。

眾所周知,釣魚群島自明朝以來就是中國的領土 – 井上清寫到日本及琉球在1867年以前實際上沒有一份釣魚群島的歷史文獻。

與日本及琉球方面正相反,中國有許多關于釣魚群島的文獻資料。

至少在16世紀中葉,釣魚群島就有了中國名字。如釣魚島、黃毛嶼、赤嶼等等。

井上清幾乎是在日本有影響力的歷史學家當中唯一一個敢于尊重事實,堅持說釣魚群島屬于中國的 – 這樣絕無僅有的一個例證。

vokoyo
October 8, 2011 at 10:24

China boundary settlements with other countries —

Western and Indian analysts and journalists frequently accuse China of having a new-found self-confidence, call on Obama to “burst Beijing’s bubble”, call its statements “harangue” and its behaviour “hubris”, and accuse it of possessing an increased “assertiveness” (Almost everyone!).

Even a 2005 Pentagon report on Chinese military power expressed concern that “conflicts to enforce China territorial claims could erupt in the future with wide regional repercussions.”

J. Mohan Malik, an expert in Asian Geopolitics and Proliferation, proclaims, “Having wrested substantial territorial concessions from Russia, Vietnam, and Tajikistan in their land border disputes with China, Beijing is now expecting the same from India.”

Although a thorough analysis of China border disputes merits a separate blog post, only a summary is sufficient here to put things in perspective.

China has had land border disputes with every country which it bordered. However, it has resolved 12 out of the 14 disputes quite remarkably, giving remarkable concessions in each of them.

In its border negotiations with different countries, China has pursued compromise and offered concessions in most of these conflicts. China compromises have often been substantial, as it has usually offered to accept less than half of the contested territory in any final settlement. It has also not reiterated its claims on a majority of the territory which was seized from it by the so-called unequal treaties.

According to M.Taylor.Fravel, a premier expert on China border disputes,

“Contrary to scholars of offensive realism, ……China has rarely exploited its military superiority to bargain hard for the territory that it claims or to seize it through force. China has likewise not become increasingly assertive in its territorial disputes as its relative power has grown in the past two decades. Contrary to others who emphasize the violent effects of nationalism, which would suggest inflexibility in conflicts over national sovereignty, China has been quite willing to offer territorial concessions despite historical legacies of external victimization and territorial dismemberment under the Qing.”

“…..China has not issued demands for large tracts of territory that were part of the Qing dynasty……”

“China only contested roughly 7 percent of the territory that was part of the Qing dynasty at its height”

China land border negotiations with neighbouring countries offer a startling revelation. Portions of the total disputed territories that China received as part of its boundary negotiations with 12 of its 14 neighbours are as follows:

Afghanistan – 0%
Tajikistan – 4%
Nepal – 6%
Burma – 18%
Kazakhstan – 22%
Mongolia – 29%
Kyrgyzstan – 32%
North Korea – 40%
Laos – 50%
Vietnam – 50%
Russia – 50%
Pakistan – 54%

Pakistan was a special case in which China received 60% of the disputed land but transferred 1942 square kilometers of separate land to Pakistan. In Tajikistan’s case, the figure refers to the 28000 sq.km of the disputed Pamir mountain range, other sectors were divided evenly. In the case of Vietnam, in addition to this settlement, China transferred, apparently without any strings attached, the White Dragon Tail Island to (North) Vietnam in 1957.

According to Fravel, “Analysis of China dispute behavior bears directly on the future of peace and stability in East Asia. Behavior in territorial disputes is a fundamental indicator of whether a state is pursuing status quo or revisionist foreign policies, an issue of increasing importance in light of China rising power.”

vokoyo
October 5, 2011 at 13:08

China boundary settlements with other countries

Western and Indian analysts and journalists frequently accuse China of having a new-found self-confidence, call on Obama to “burst Beijing’s bubble”, call its statements “harangue” and its behaviour “hubris”, and accuse it of possessing an increased “assertiveness” (Almost everyone!).

Even a 2005 Pentagon report on Chinese military power expressed concern that “conflicts to enforce China territorial claims could erupt in the future with wide regional repercussions.”

J. Mohan Malik, an expert in Asian Geopolitics and Proliferation, proclaims, “Having wrested substantial territorial concessions from Russia, Vietnam, and Tajikistan in their land border disputes with China, Beijing is now expecting the same from India.”

Although a thorough analysis of China border disputes merits a separate blog post, only a summary is sufficient here to put things in perspective.

China has had land border disputes with every country which it bordered. However, it has resolved 12 out of the 14 disputes quite remarkably, giving remarkable concessions in each of them.

In its border negotiations with different countries, China has pursued compromise and offered concessions in most of these conflicts. China compromises have often been substantial, as it has usually offered to accept less than half of the contested territory in any final settlement. It has also not reiterated its claims on a majority of the territory which was seized from it by the so-called unequal treaties.

According to M.Taylor.Fravel, a premier expert on China border disputes,

“Contrary to scholars of offensive realism, ……China has rarely exploited its military superiority to bargain hard for the territory that it claims or to seize it through force. China has likewise not become increasingly assertive in its territorial disputes as its relative power has grown in the past two decades. Contrary to others who emphasize the violent effects of nationalism, which would suggest inflexibility in conflicts over national sovereignty, China has been quite willing to offer territorial concessions despite historical legacies of external victimization and territorial dismemberment under the Qing.”

“…..China has not issued demands for large tracts of territory that were part of the Qing dynasty……”

“China only contested roughly 7 percent of the territory that was part of the Qing dynasty at its height”
In the adjoining map, the grey area was part of the Qing dynasty during 1820, claims that China did not pursue.

China land border negotiations with neighbouring countries offer a startling revelation. Portions of the total disputed territories that China received as part of its boundary negotiations with 12 of its 14 neighbours are as follows:

Afghanistan – 0%
Tajikistan – 4%
Nepal – 6%
Burma – 18%
Kazakhstan – 22%
Mongolia – 29%
Kyrgyzstan – 32%
North Korea – 40%
Laos – 50%
Vietnam – 50%
Russia – 50%
Pakistan – 54%

Pakistan was a special case in which China received 60% of the disputed land but transferred 1942 square kilometers of separate land to Pakistan. In Tajikistan’s case, the figure refers to the 28000 sq.km of the disputed Pamir mountain range, other sectors were divided evenly. In the case of Vietnam, in addition to this settlement, China transferred, apparently without any strings attached, the White Dragon Tail Island to (North) Vietnam in 1957.

According to Fravel, “Analysis of China dispute behavior bears directly on the future of peace and stability in East Asia. Behavior in territorial disputes is a fundamental indicator of whether a state is pursuing status quo or revisionist foreign policies, an issue of increasing importance in light of China rising power.”

Huang
September 19, 2011 at 03:10

“Teaching in China”,(if true and not full of bulls)the experience and expectations must have been terrible to end with these comments commonly made by individuals with limited knowlegde of the actual China and not the China they wished or accustomed to as portrayed to them by their government managed medias.
When the dots do not connect,more than likely they don’t belong in the context.
In case some wishy cracky commenters still not aware of,we are living in the year 2011 and changes of revolutionary proportions have taken place in China in particular and the whole global environment in general where changes are measured by the days and weeks not months or years as normally the case during the Cold War era.

fort
September 17, 2011 at 23:37

@aaron
Do you really want to debate about sins?

Or do you know that in China the proportion of minorities is on upward trend, and advantageous policies they enjoy while many Han people have only the right to envy?

Hypocrites are those who had done irredeemable sins, taking no compensating measures to redress what the minorities suffered, making them still marginalized with delusional apologies, yet still assume themselves so morally advantaged as to accuse China of her minority policies, which have given minorities equal (if not favored) status and enabled peoples to coexist peacefully, don’t you agree?

Racists are those stereotyping Chinese as Frank, who is, I have to say like many westerners on the internet, contaminated with racism. So you can see who is the racist now?

fort
September 16, 2011 at 17:55

@a_canadian_observer
1. Tibet was under Qing, but gained independence, until 1950 when the CCP took over it. Re. “old Tibet’s serfdom and slavery” or not, this is not the reason for CCP to liberate them. You ask nme to provide proof. This is laughable since it’s the chinese propaganda that aserts serfdom and slavery exist in old Tibet. If anything china should prove the point.

>>If you believe so, then you can accuse Lincoln of uniting the Southern States and manumitting the black.

Further more, you seem to have intentionally neglected how westerners especially the Brits, and Japanese invaded China and nearly colonized China. Talking about Tibet’s “independence” in absence of the backdrop of invasions and civil wars that China suffered would be no more than childish whining.

History of Tibet is not confidential; you can have a some credible information if you care to read something you’re not willing to believe. Still, I’m not interested in enlightening someone who is not will to realize and accept his ignorance.

2. It’s true that atrocities happended in N.A. and people are not proud of that. At the least, there are free and accountable information about this sad history that everyone can access, and people are free to condem the atrocity. What has happened in china? Can you give me a few Han names that have the courage and honesty to speak the truth about what their government has done in Tibet?

>>Then why’s CPC not free to condemn and rectify atrocity made by Tibetan aristocrats and slave owners? I’m curious that you’re not fed up with your own double standards. And, to tell the truth, I’m not even interested in convince anyone prejudiced and arrogant, to whom the truth is what they’re willing to believe and what strengthens their exiting beliefs.

At last, like I said, help yourself with some healthy dose of history knowledge; it’s really embarrassing to speak ignorance.

aaron
September 16, 2011 at 16:20

You Mainland Chinese are a bunch of racist hypocrites. You constantly demonize white people for moving into North America and Australia but ignore your own sins. If you really cared about aboriginal rights then you would remove all Han people from Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet. The PRC actively promotes resettlement of Han people to Tibet and Xinjiang so that the local people are marginalized. The West admits its own faults, China just lies and covers up their own injustices.

a_canadian_observer
September 16, 2011 at 10:40

@fort:
1. Tibet was under Qing, but gained independence, until 1950 when the CCP took over it. Re. “old Tibet’s serfdom and slavery” or not, this is not the reason for CCP to liberate them. You ask nme to provide proof. This is laughable since it’s the chinese propaganda that aserts serfdom and slavery exist in old Tibet. If anything china should prove the point.

2. It’s true that atrocities happended in N.A. and people are not proud of that. At the least, there are free and accountable information about this sad history that everyone can access, and people are free to condem the atrocity. What has happened in china? Can you give me a few Han names that have the courage and honesty to speak the truth about what their government has done in Tibet?

fort
September 15, 2011 at 15:34

@a_canadian_observer
Addendum:
–”Tell me which countries in N.A. the “White” invaded, and what were the boundaries of those countries?”

Does the lack of the concepts of “country” and “boundary” justifies butchering and cleansing of the tribes? While the white Americans killed uncountable Indians and robbed them of their lands, and then enslaved billions of Africans to build countries they are proud of, China, to the contrast, inherited her territory form Qing Dynasty and ROC, granted autonomy to minority areas and make most of the peoples in China live coexist much more peacefully. Equip yourself with some healthy dose of history knowledge before asserting what you’re willing to believe. You’re not only wishful on the Tibet issue but seriously brain-washed by anti-China mongers.

Or at least, can you enlighten me with any renunciation of sovereignty over Tibet made by Qing Dynasty and ROC?

fort
September 15, 2011 at 15:11

@a_canadian_observer
1.Propaganda or not, there are merits and facts in his words. Or maybe you can do us any favor in rebutting him with some substantial materials? I’ll appreciate any true history about old Tibet’s serfdom and slavery. Care to provide any?

It seems that you’re able to live with, or more accurately enjoy, western propaganda of democracy and human rights, yet unable to live with any CPC propaganda, even it is much closer to facts. Simply it is of communist. Is anti-commie mentality in western countries aggravated even after U.S.S.R. dissolved and China reformed?

2.On the Tibet issue
You are free to live with your imagination.

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