border review | 19 July 2011

Zheng Xiwen on China's peaceful rise and resolved border disputes

Guangming Daily’s Zheng Xiwen via People’s Daily Online:

Few countries evolved into world powers peacefully, so many people doubt the feasibility of China’s path of peaceful development. By their logic, if China wants to protect and expand its national interests as well as to resolve maritime territorial disputes, a war with neighboring countries will be unavoidable. They believe that China is stuck in a dilemma between development and peace.

This is a misinterpretation of China’s peaceful development path. In fact, it is highly possible to resolve the South China Sea disputes and other issues through peaceful means. Peaceful resolution of disputes will be an important symbol of China’s rise.

First of all, China is taking the road of peaceful development, unlike certain Western countries that evolved into world powers through military expansion. Wars are no longer the theme of the times. […]

China has resolved most of the territorial disputes with other countries through consultations and negotiations since the founding of the New China. China tackled the territorial disputes with countries such as Burma, North Korea, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan through negations between the late 1950s and early 1960s.

This, of course, ignores the armed border conflicts with India and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s  and with Vietnam in 1979. But still, it is true for the more recent history. However, despite frequent repetition, this fact has not yet received the acknowledgement it deserves. Which reminds me of what Joshua Cooper Ramo wrote in his 2007 report Brand China: “until China becomes a more trusted nation, making her a more understood nation is a difficult task.”