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[Beijing Forum 2014] China as a friendly developing role in the world

Peking University, Nov. 8, 2014: The stage of Northeast Asia is set, and a new scene is ready to be revealed. However, the script is not empty words — at the chandelier-lit Sunlight Hall this morning, four intellectuals voiced their opinions on the next lines of the plot.

 

China’s new role in Northeast Asia was the major theme of the discussions. With China’s rapid development and increasing participation in the region, tension and concerns are inevitable. Professor T. J. Pempel from University of California, Berkeley drew the starting line of this session, declaring that “the world of bipolarity” has ended and economic insulation no longer exists. The old leaf has been turned, and it is now more of a balancing act among the East Asian powers, as well as the ever-present United States.

 

Professor Pempel saw domestic policies as one of the key factors in Asian countries’ relations. He spoke about domestic reform both responding to and shaping external security and economic environments. While being affirmative about the economic interdependence and the security cooperation between China and other countries, he was still concerned about an explosion of nationalism, particularly in Japan, South Korea and China, where educational and political propaganda are showing nationalist inclinations. Reflecting on the situation of the region, Professor Pempel concluded that countries are jostling for places in the area much like students competing with each other at school, and major powers should assume the responsibility of de-escalating the tensions. Nevertheless, he was still optimistic about the future and did not think conflict is destined. As long as a proper mechanism is employed, peace and stability are very much attainable.

 

CCTV presenter Yang Rui gave an equally optimistic view, albeit from a different perspective. Mr. Yang expressed his confidence in China’s ability to assume greater international responsibility, which had been demonstrated in China’s assistance to war-torn regions such as Afghanistan and its effort to combat terrorism, with the internationally-coordinated mission against Somalian pirates as an example. China is also actively increasing its international economic participation as a trade partner, according to Mr. Yang, a view later echoed by Professor Pempel during the discussion period, who claimed it to be an absolute mistake for the US Congress to deny China a bigger voting right in the IMF and World Bank. Mr. Yang acknowledged the intricate and delicate situation in Northeast Asia, though, notably pointing out five major territorial disputes within the region. However, he was still very confident that China’s peaceful rise as another major global power would contribute to the overall prosperity of the world.

 

The attention of the speakers focused more on the United States’ influence on Northeastern Asia and how China and the rest of the region should react to this external force as the session went on. American University professor Zhao Quansheng pointed out that Asia is quickly becoming a crucial factor in American policy making. He outlined a troika system of the American Strategic Core Force, which consists of policy architects, counselors and think tanks. The formulation and implementation of American policies, and particularly its shift, reflected increasing roles of Asian countries in America’s foreign strategy.

 

Professor Yoichiro Sato from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University furthered that point by suggesting that the US-Japan alliance is enhancing and the Sino-US trade relationship is also becoming ever more vibrant. The triangular relationship of the three countries, Professor Sato said, shows that they have almost an equal role in global affairs. China, as America’s biggest creditor and arguably saved the largest economy in the world from drowning in the last financial crisis, has a sizeable domestic demand, which continues to provide energy for its economic growth. However, despite all the positive signs for the Chinese, the country will not be able to form an independent economic bloc without the US. Thus, the trend should anticipate more advanced levels of cooperation and globalization.

 

With news from the APEC meeting that China and Japan have agreed to ease their tension over disputed islands, the tide is turning for a peaceful and stable Asia. A general message from this Panel Session is that, the world need not be concerned with a rising China. Instead, with the rusted bipolarity world now phasing out, the world should accommodate this fresh partner and benefit from a stronger cooperation with China. There are reasons to be hopeful that, through the chilly morning air of Beijing, sun rays will glitter on the horizon of Northeast Asia. In this new landscape, surely China cannot escape from its responsibilities.

 

 

Reported by: Xu Liangdi

Edited by: Jin Panzhu