China is at a special and crucial juncture approaching the great renewal of the Chinese nation, during which the most important thing is maintaining a trend of peaceful development. As China develops, it is increasingly necessary to show its determination and effectiveness in safeguarding its core interests. Meanwhile, safeguarding the core interests of the country relies on national strength and will, the solidarity and maturity of the nation and the firmness and wisdom of its diplomacy. Not a single aspect can be ignored.
With the growth of China's national strength and the advancement of social transformation, Chinese diplomacy has to take into consideration many more factors to maintain its core national interest. The country's diplomatic efforts must rise to its defense. A grand strategy with a comprehensive approach is needed, with a healthy dose of caution when pitting core interests against the overall development objectives of China. Its diplomatic approach is not an either/or question between perceived "softness" and "toughness."
Handling disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights properly is not contradictory to China's adherence to peaceful development. On the one hand, China firmly opposes any behavior that impairs its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights; on the other hand, China works actively to create a favorable atmosphere and conditions for peaceful solutions to relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation.
From China's reaction to the disputes over the Huangyan Island in the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in 2012, we can conclude that China has held consistently to the principle of shelving disputes in favor of joint resource development.
In the new era, peaceful development is still the banner of Chinese diplomacy and the extension of domestic development and reform. China will unswervingly pursue the road of peaceful development, with its growing overall strength as a solid backing force. The fact that China has become increasingly powerful shows that it has more capacity to maintain its core and major interests and prevent wars, which should not be misinterpreted to suggest that China's diplomacy will be tougher or even go to war.
The author is an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review
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