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.
In terms of history, China has no culture or tradition of seeking expansion or hegemony. Throughout our history of thousands of years, benevolence and harmony are at the heart of our political and cultural tradition, which values harmony, good-neighborliness and friendship with all. China never sought expansion or hegemony even in its heyday centuries ago, when it accounted for 30% of the world's GDP. Zheng He, a great Chinese navigator, led the world's strongest fleet to the Western Seas on seven voyages, taking with him not bloodshed or war, pillage or colonization but porcelain, silk and tea. In the height of the Tang Dynasty, what Japan got from China was not threat but prosperity. China's territory has basically been what it is today since the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 24 A.D.).
In terms of world development, revitalization of a country in the era of economic globalization can be well achieved through equal and orderly international competition and mutually beneficial cooperation. It's no longer necessary or possible to take the old path of challenging either the existing international order or other countries. The rise and fall of some big powers in the world tells us: Expansionism leads to nowhere; arms race leads to nowhere; seeking world domination leads to nowhere; and peaceful development is the only right path. The more developed China is, the more it needs to strengthen cooperation with the rest of the world, and the more it needs a peaceful and stable international environment. Mutual benefit and common development is what we have learned most profoundly from over 30 years of experiences in foreign relations since reform and opening up. That is also a key to our success. We must hold on to the key and never give it up.
In terms of our basic policy, never seeking leadership, never competing for supremacy and never seeking hegemony is our basic national policy and strategic choice. Whether a country is a threat to the world or not is a matter of what policies it pursues. China always adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, respects the right of the people in all countries to choose their own development paths, never seeks hegemony or leadership and never tries to dominate the world. As Comrade Deng Xiaoping once said, if one day China tries to seek hegemony in the world, people of the world should expose, oppose and overthrow it. The international community can hold us to account.
Some say China wants to replace the United States and dominate the world. That is simply a myth. Politically, what we practice is socialism with Chinese characteristics. We do not export our social system or development model and we respect the choice of the people of other countries. Economically, we focus all our efforts on development. We are happy to see lasting prosperity and development in all other countries and we pursue common progress. Militarily, we reject any arms race. Our top priority is to enable the 1.3 billion Chinese people to have better clothes, better food, better housing and more convenient transportation. We cannot and will not spend heaps of money on weaponry.
We do not seek hegemony and will never compete with other countries for leadership in our region, seek so-called "joint hegemony" or follow so-called "Monroe Doctrine". What we pursue is a policy of friendship, security and prosperity with our neighbors. The purpose of our Asia-Pacific strategy is to create a good, stable neighboring environment for our own development and achieve common progress with all countries. We want to be a good friend, good neighbor and good partner of ASEAN and all countries in Asia. The bilateral and multilateral agreements we have signed with Asian countries do not have a single article that is exclusive. We are open to regional cooperation and our intentions are transparent and good. We hope that what other countries do in Asia is not aimed to keep off, contain or harm China. We hope that what they say and do at our gate or in this region where the Chinese people have lived for thousands of years is also well intentioned and transparent. Take China's development as an opportunity and seize it, and one stands to benefit. Doubt China's regional and international strategic intentions and focus on finding fault and making trouble, and one will lose the good opportunity to cooperate with China. The attempts to team up to counter or contain China and the practices of sowing discords between countries in the region and conducting joint military exercises in China's adjacent waters are a clear demonstration of the Cold War mentality. It is out of date and cannot stop China's advances. It can only lead to the loss of the historical opportunity of developing cooperation with China. It is doomed to failure.
Some people misinterpret the Chinese idiom "keep a low profile and make due contributions". They take China's announcement of a peaceful development path as a smokescreen for its real intention before it gets strong enough. This is groundless suspicion. That Chinese idiom was quoted from Comrade Deng Xiaoping's remarks from late 1980s to early 1990s, saying that China should keep modest and prudent, not serve as others' leader or a standard bearer and not seek expansion or hegemony. This is consistent with the idea of the path of peaceful development.
In short, the Chinese is a good-will and responsible nation. We respect others, but do not allow others to bully us. We are developing socialist democracy based on our national conditions. We value, respect and protect human rights. We may encounter many difficulties on our way forward, but we will never waver in reform and opening up. We will always keep an open mind and learn from others. In our relations with other countries, we will seek equality, harmonious co-existence, mutual benefit and common development. Ours is a country that follows the path of peaceful development and treats others with candor and sincerity. The world may feel reassured and confident in dealing with such a country as China. The international community should welcome China's peaceful development rather than fear it, help rather than hinder it and support rather than constrain its effort. The international community should understand and respect China's legitimate interests and concerns in the course of its peaceful development.
6. How will a fast developing China handle its relations with other countries?
As a Chinese saying goes, "Scooping rice from the same pot, the ladles may inevitably knock against each other". As we live in a global village, frictions and clashes of various kinds are inevitable. It is nothing alarming. What matters is the principles that one follows in trying to tackle the problems: a tit-for-tat tactic or making a fuss of a minor problem, or rather, a totally different approach? We have our basic principles in our external relations, which have proven effective over the past decades. First, we follow the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. To be specific, we reject interference in others' internal affairs and the use or threat of use of force and we do not enter into alliance with any country. Second, we follow the win-win strategy of opening up and never adopt the beggar-thy-neighbor policy. We value, develop and protect common interests and strive to make the pie of common interests bigger and better. Third, we stand for settlement of disputes and conflicts through dialogue and negotiation and by seeking common ground while shelving differences. That is what we have been doing over the past years. We have set up strategic dialogue and consultation mechanisms with the United States, Europe, Japan and some emerging countries and have been engaged in in-depth exchange of views with them on important overarching and long-term issues concerning the world situation and bilateral relations. Those discussions have helped to enhance mutual understanding and trust, seek strategic consensus, expand common interests and reduce troubles and setbacks. For knotty problems, we have proposed that they be put aside until conditions are ripe for solution. Some issues can even be left to future generations.
Some people argue that since the Chinese government has never renounced the use of force for the settlement of the Taiwan question and China's military spending is growing continuously, it is contradictory to China's statement about its path of peaceful development. In my view, no development path should be chosen at the expense of major national interests, core interests in particular. What are China's core interests? My personal understanding is: first, China's form of government and political system and stability, namely the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the socialist system and socialism with Chinese characteristics. Second, China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity. Third, the basic guarantee for sustainable economic and social development of China. These interests brook no violation.
The Taiwan question constitutes China's core interest concerning its unification and territorial integrity, dear to the heart of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens and the whole Chinese nation. On this question, we pursue the basic principle of "peaceful unification and one country, two systems". We will never allow Taiwan to split from China, nor will we ever commit ourselves to the renunciation of force. This is not targeted at our Taiwan compatriots but a handful of Taiwan separatists. In recent years, the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations has made positive and significant progress as evidenced by the signing of Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the two sides, which opens up greater prospects for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. However, there are those who, out of Cold War mentality and geo-political needs, have continued to sell weapons to Taiwan in disregard of China's firm opposition. Such failure to keep one's word should be corrected at once as it is not conducive to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and runs counter to the trend of peace, cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
China pursues a defense policy that is defensive in nature. Its military building is aimed at upholding sovereignty and territorial integrity, safeguarding its more than 22,000 km long land boundary and 18,000 km long sea boundary and ensuring development in a peaceful environment. It is neither driven by arms race nor the desire to seek hegemony or expansion. Some people in the world have the unnecessary worry that China will turn its growing economic power into military might. Compared with quite a number of countries such as the United States and Japan, China's military spending is minimal both in aggregate and per capita terms and cannot pose a threat to other countries. As for transparency, there is no country that is absolutely transparent in the military field. China's military transparency has been rising over the past decades. Its strategic intent, in particular, is more transparent than many other countries, especially some major powers. For example, we have openly declared to the world that we will never seek hegemony and openly committed to no first use of nuclear weapons and no use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. If other countries follow suit, it will no doubt be a great contribution to world peace, stability and development.