Fact Check
Friends, not allies
By Lan Xinzhen  ·  2022-02-21  ·   Source: NO.8 FEBRUARY 24, 2022

Roughly 170 official representatives from nearly 70 countries and international organizations attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on February 4. Among them were heads of state and government, leaders of international organizations as well as members of royal families.

It was moving to see so many international dignitaries flying into China from the corners of the globe for the Winter Olympics at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic still taunts the world. On such occasions, as always, China greets and treats its friends with hospitality and friendship.

On the other side of the globe, however, the United States, flanked by its allies, is busy fueling the conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border by rumor-mongering Russia is about to invade Ukraine, turning the region into a tinderbox and casting a dark shadow over all of Europe.

The Olympic celebrations in Beijing, reflecting solidarity, amity and fortitude, strike a stark contrast to the American war prep which leaves locals with a strong sense of unease. The two extraordinarily different pictures also characterize two totally different approaches of dealing with other countries and strategic views on world security. While the U.S. is intent on drawing allies into its armed ranks, China is more interested in making friends.

For so many years, the U.S. has been bragging about how many allies it has gained and flaunts them in front of China. The latter, however, likes to treat others as friends, as the relationship between friends is based on equity, solidarity, cooperation and common development, whereas in the case of allies, the relationship can become unequal, with one chief and many followers. In global affairs, U.S. allies must put American interests above all else. Recent years have seen a souring of relations between China and Japan, Canada and Australia, the underlying reason being the gloom and doom of Sino-American ties.

China is a staunch supporter of the non-aligned movement. It first proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the early years of the founding of the People's Republic of China and has since upheld a foreign policy of independence and peaceful development, opposing hegemonism in favor of world peace. China has always maintained that all nations, big or small, are equal. It will not allow differences in social systems and ideology to affect state-to-state relations. China will always reach fair conclusions on the merits of each matter and design policies accordingly. The country will never choose to rely on any superpower, nor will it seek alliance with anyone. So far, it has made itself the largest trading partner of over 120 countries and territories.

Some might argue that China has led the founding of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. Are these examples of alliance? By no means. They are all multilateral cooperation mechanisms under the framework of peaceful development, based on a partnership between friends, rather than allies.

As the second largest economy in the world, China is making its presence increasingly felt on the international stage. Meanwhile, the country has taken up its due role as a responsible power by contributing an array of Chinese schemes and wisdom to global governance. Particularly, China has become an engine of world economic growth. Against this backdrop, all kinds of distortions began to emerge in many Western countries, accompanied by the "China threat" theory. To contain China, the U.S. tries to gather as many allies as possible, sometimes even at its own cost.

Yet the country continues to take a firm stance in this regard. President Xi Jinping has stressed on many international occasions that however strong it may grow, China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or a sphere of influence. Nor will China ever engage in an arms race. China will take an active part in multilateral cooperation on trade and investment, and develop new systems for a higher-standard open economy. It prefers dialogue and cooperation to any zero-sum game.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

Comments to lanxinzhen@cicgamericas.com

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