The CPC Central Committee's Proposal for Formulating the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development adopted by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee has drawn the grand blue print for China's development in the next five years. It is reiterated in the part on external relations that China stands firmly for peace, development and cooperation, pursues the independent foreign policy of peace, sticks to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening up, safeguards China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and is ready to work with other countries to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. This explains fully China's external stance, its path of development, its goal and the way to achieve the goal. Therefore, it has great relevance and far-reaching significance to China's diplomacy under the new circumstances.
1. Why has China chosen the path of peaceful development?
To stick to the path of peaceful development is not an impulsive decision. On the contrary, it is a carefully considered choice based on our analysis of the great changes that have taken place in the world, in China and in China's relations with the rest of the world. We realize that we must adapt to the changing situation and follow a path that suits the trend of world development and China's national conditions.
The world is undergoing extensive and profound changes. Economic globalization and development of information technology are gaining momentum. Science and technology are advancing fast. The world is getting smaller and has become a "global village." Countries are more closely linked and interdependent with their interests more closely integrated than ever before. They find more areas of common interests and more issues that need joint response. They want to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation more than ever before. To some extent, the world has become a community of interests. No country, even the most powerful ones, can stand alone and survive. The behavior of one country will have an impact not only on itself, but also on other countries. Those selfish practices of conquering or threatening others by force, or seeking development space and resources by non-peaceful means are losing ground. It has also become very unpopular for some countries to identify friends and foes on the basis of ideology and gang up under various pretexts in quest of dominance of world affairs. In response to increasing risks and challenges, the international community has opted for peace, development and cooperation, which is the irresistible trend of the times. Countries should consider themselves passengers in the same boat and cross the river peacefully together instead of fighting one another and trying to push one another off the boat.
China is undergoing extensive and profound transformation. More than 30 years of reform and opening up has brought about earth-shaking changes in the country: from "taking class struggle as the key principle" to focusing on economic development and building socialist modernization on all fronts, from planned economy to socialist market economy through reform across the board, from a closed society and overemphasis on self-reliance to opening up and international cooperation, from emphasis on ideology in external relations to advocating harmonious coexistence of various social systems and development models and developing external relations in an all-round way. All this calls on us to act in light of the basic national conditions and features of development at the current stage of our country, deepen the reform and opening up and accelerate the transformation of economic growth pattern.
China's relations with the rest of the world have also undergone historic changes. With deepening reform and opening up and sustained economic and social development, China is increasingly integrated into the international community and closely connected with the world. Its future and destiny is increasingly linked with that of the world. China cannot develop in isolation of the world. And the world cannot achieve prosperity and stability without China. If we fail to manage well our relations with the rest of the world, we might miss the development opportunities provided by the overall peace in the world, relative stability in relations between major countries and fast progress in new science and technology revolution in the first 20 years of the new century.
2. What is the path of peaceful development?
Sticking to the path of peaceful development is a brand new development path put forward by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the General Secretary on the basis of the features of the times, China's national conditions, domestic and international situations, and development experiences and lessons of other major countries. This is a major decision on China's development strategy and a major statement of China's external strategy.
In my view, there are five features of this path. First, the peaceful nature of development. China will not engage in invasion, plundering, war or expansion that Western powers used to practice. Our strength will be harnessed to serve world peace and integrate development with peace. Second, the independent nature of development. Independence is the fundamental feature of China's diplomacy. And self-reliance is our fine tradition. Over the past 30 years and more, in our efforts to develop the country, we have mainly relied on reform and opening up, our own wisdom and hard work, expanding domestic demand and transforming economic growth pattern. Third, the scientific nature of development. According to the requirement of the Scientific Outlook on Development that puts people first and pursues comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development, we have intensified efforts to promote sound and fast economic development and the building of a harmonious society with a view to securing a sound domestic environment for peaceful development. Fourth, the cooperative nature of development. China is a member of the international community. It best serves our own and others' interests to cooperate with others, and share interests and responsibilities. In external relations, we advocate friendship instead of animosity, cooperation instead of confrontation, trust instead of suspicion, and treating each other as equals instead of imposing one's will on others. Fifth, common development. China's national interests are consistent with the common interests of mankind. In developing itself, China aims to achieve common development with other countries and never does anything at the expense of others. We know full well that if a country wants to develop itself, it must let others develop too. If a country wants to have security, it must make others feel safe too. And if a country wants a better life, it must let others have it too.
3. What is China's direction and strategic intention?
After over 30 years of reform and opening up, especially after China successfully hosted the Beijing Olympic Games and withstood the test of the international financial crisis, the world has shown a stronger interest in China's strategic direction. Let me point out that China's strategic intention is not as complex or unfathomable as some people may think. Nor is there any hidden agenda or ambition. In fact, China's strategic intention can be defined in two words: peaceful development, i.e. harmony and development at home and peace and cooperation abroad. This is what we must focus on and achieve—not just this generation but for generations to come. This is the policy that will not change in 100 years or 1,000 years. To be specific, we need to achieve the goal by peaceful means, by continued reform and improvement of our own system, and through hard work, creativity and ingenuity of the Chinese people, and long-term friendly coexistence, equality and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. This way, the Chinese people, accounting for one fifth of the world's total population, will rid themselves of poverty and lead a better life. This way, China will develop into a country where people are contented, society is harmonious, and political, material, cultural and environmental development proceeds in a balanced way. This way, China will become a most responsible and law-abiding member of the international community. In this process, we will develop socialist democracy and political system in light of China's national conditions. In a word, the Chinese people have suffered long enough from poverty. Our greatest and only strategic intention is to live a better life, where every day is better than the previous one. We wish the same for all the people in the world. The CPC has termed this process "peaceful development" and the ways and means to achieve peaceful development "the path of peaceful development." As one may notice, this path has been solemnly incorporated into the Report at the 17th Party Congress and reiterated in the proposal for the 12th Five-Year Plan at the latest plenary session. This speaks volumes about CPC's sincerity and resolve to stick to the path of peaceful development.
4. How to see China's development?
After over 30 years of reform and opening up, China has achieved remarkable progress in its economic and social development. In recent years, in particular, China's development has attracted even more international attention. Many think that China is already a developed country, on a par with the United States. This view indicates that the path of peaceful development can lead a nation to development and we have made the right choice. However, it also shows a lack of comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the level of China's development. The reality is that China's GDP, however big it may grow, must be shared among the 1.3 billion people. China's per-capita GDP is only $3,800, ranking about 104th in the world, even lower than many African countries. By the United Nations standard of one U.S. dollar a day, 150 million Chinese are still living below the poverty line. Even by the standard of 1,200 yuan per capita income, over 40 million Chinese are still in poverty. Today in China, 10 million people have no access to electricity and each year, employment must be provided for 24 million Chinese. China has a huge population and a weak economic foundation. The urban-rural gaps, imbalances in industrial structure and underdevelopment of productivity are issues yet to be fundamentally addressed. In whatever sense, China is big in terms of population but small in terms of economy. It is a developing country in every sense of the term. The economic and social problems we face are the biggest and most difficult in the world. We have no reason whatsoever to be conceited or arrogant. Our road to real development and better life for our people will be long and hard. This will require the unremitting efforts of several generations or even more. Even if one day China comes close to Western countries, like the United States, Europe and Japan, in per-capita GDP, the quality of our economy and life will still lag far behind.
I must point out in particular that even if China becomes stronger, it will remain a member of the developing world and will continue to stand by the developing countries and work in unity with them for common development. That is because we share similar historical experiences with developing countries, we were comrades-in-arms with them, and we have common development tasks and strategic interests. Our position will never change even when China's economy has grown or its international status has changed. Now and forever, China is, and will remain the most sincere and trustworthy friend, brother and partner of the developing countries. Although there is room for improvement in our relations with the developing countries, China's cooperation with them is open and honest and based on equality, mutual benefit and sincere friendship. The hat of the so-called "neocolonialism" does not fit China.
5. Will China seek hegemony when it becomes more developed?
This concern is unfounded. To oppose hegemony has been written into China's Constitution and the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. Probably, no other big country or political party in the world has ever done that.