Beijing. China will firmly stick to the path of peaceful development and will never seek hegemony, expansion or a sphere of influence, senior Chinese officials emphasized at a forum in Beijing on Monday that gathered strategists, former foreign government officials and scholars.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the Eighth World Peace Forum organized by Tsinghua University, one of China’s top universities, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan said China must co-exist with the rest of the world.
“China cannot develop without the world, nor can the world develop without China,” Wang said.
Starting 2012, the annual international security forum is a platform for global strategists to discuss challenges facing the world and put forward proposed solutions.
This year’s forum, themed “Stabilizing the world order: Common responsibilities, Joint management and Shared benefits,” saw the attendance of more than 300 scholars from 24 countries and diplomatic envoys from more than 50 countries.
It is held against the backdrop of profound changes in the international relations landscape and grave challenges like unilateralism, protectionism and major-power competition.
Wang also warned against “protectionism in the name of national security,” calling on major powers to contribute more to global peace and stability and broaden the path of joint development.
He called for joint consultation, construction and sharing, strengthening dialogue and cooperation in economics, finance and technology to build a higher level of open world economy.
Accusations that China is trying to overthrow the current international order are groundless, forum scholars said.
There are increasing problems with the international order, Wang Jisi, president of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies of Peking University, told the Global Times.
The rights of developing countries need to be given more attention and rising trade protectionism and populism within certain countries pose greater challenges to international security, Wang said.
China is reforming the unreasonable part of the current international order, said He Kai, professor of international relations at Australia’s Griffith University.
Worries of China overthrowing the international order were unnecessary as past decades of China’s achievement occurred under the current international system, He said.
But the international order is facing daunting challenges, scholars agreed. They expressed particular concerns about unilateralism and protectionism.
In a speech to the forum, former president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said protectionism doesn’t protect the economy and people. He urged relevant parties to solve trade disputes through dialogue to protect their interests.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, who delivered a keynote speech at a lunch meeting, warned of the perilous consequences that unilateralism and protectionism could bring, citing the failures of the Versailles system established after World War I.
One of the important reasons the Treaty of Versailles failed to effectively prevent war was that relevant countries put their interests first and even shifted their crisis to others, he noted. “We cannot repeat the mistake of history,” Le said.
Strained China-US relations are also a big concern of scholars and officials at the forum, especially amid intensifying tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.
Le said threatening to raise tariffs and decouple the two economies were no prescription to address the problems.
China is sincere in holding trade negotiations with the US side to work out the differences, but it won’t accept a deal that would constrain its self-development and obstruct the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Le emphasized, noting that negotiations should be conducted on an equal footing and take reasonable concerns of each side into consideration.
Michael D. Swaine, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Global Times that there were many people on both sides, especially the US side, who want “a total win.”
As the world’s most significant and sophisticated great power relationship, the real challenge was to establish a relationship where the two countries could compete in some areas, sometimes in a very sharp way, but not be enemies, Swaine said.
Swaine was also one of the authors of a recent open letter “Making China an enemy is counterproductive” sent to US President Donald Trump and Congress, opposing the administration’s approach to China.
(In association with Global Times)