“China’s development, instead of hurting or threatening anyone, can only serve peace, stability and common prosperity in the world” (President Hu Jintao).
China is one of the oldest civilisations and was once the centre of civilisation within both Asia and the world. Chinese Nationalism is therefore formed from the idea of Tianxia – “all under heaven” – where it is the duty of the Chinese people to spread their culture language and values as they are thought of as superior. Chinese culture under Tianxia promotes peace and prosperity and thus ties in with the government’s ideals of a rising peaceful power, thus building on the five principles of coexistence buried deep in Chinese tradition. China has tried to emphasise its role and rise as a peaceful power on the world stage in every aspect of its power.
Politically – at global meetings such as the G20 where prominent Chinese leaders have been quick to emphasise their ‘peaceful rise’, with President Jin Tao claiming that China is a “great responsible power”. Also through their foreign policy showing their cooperation with the US and with the UN over recent issues such as North Korea and imposing sanctions on its neighbour.
Culturally – via their use of soft power – the Chinese government are using public diplomacy to demonstrate how they are not a threat to the international system. To demonstrate this, they have emphasised their history and tradition which they now see this as a way to exert their soft power influence. For example they have created exhibitions around Asia documenting Zheng He’s exploration –which was peaceful – in comparison to European Colombus’, which was imperialistic and colonial. They are therefore using this opportunity to highlight the differences between their rise and their role on the global sage in comparison to that of the West’s.
Economically – during the most recent financial crisis, China seemed to cooperate with the other leading powers and implemented a very generous stimulus package to boost not only its domestic economy but also the global economy. Furthermore China was the largest contributor to the IMF in 2010.
China’s peaceful rise is deemed so important to the government that they created a white paper in 2011 laying out the future ‘peaceful’ proposals for China. However there are many discrepancies in the document, which states that China wants a peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, but as we have seen recently over disputes in the South China Sea, this policy did not last long. This has led many to claim that China is now stuck in a rut between peace and development – framing the two goals as a juxtaposition for China’s policies.
China white paper pledges peaceful rise: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14802394
China’;s peaceful rise is beyond doubt: http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90780/91342/7444877.html
Hu Makes 4-point Proposal for Building Harmonious World: http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/UN/142408.htm
Five Principles for Peaceful Coexistence: http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ziliao/3602/3604/t18053.htm.
Teufel Dreyer, June (2007), Chinese Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy Research Institute Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 5