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Interview: British expert optimistic on China's peaceful rise
[December 03, 2012]

Interview: British expert optimistic on China's peaceful rise

LONDON, Dec 03, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- China's peaceful rise can continue for a very very long time, said professor Odd Arne Westad with the Department of International History, the London School of Economics and Political Science, who is better known as author of Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750.

"I am an optimist in terms of China's interaction with the rest of the world," he said during an interview with Xinhua.

"Country's rise with its economic strength, and well-being of its citizens is not a challenge to anyone. It is a good thing for the world community in general," he said.

In his book, Westad traced China's foreign affairs over the past 250 years, identifying the forces that determined the country's path.

Westad noted that such conclusion was drawn based on China's deep historical tradition. "If you think further back in history, China would emphasize on different kinds of economic, trade interaction with other country more than military power," he said.

"So when China's risen to a super power status, which I think will take in a global sense quite a long time, I would not be surprised if that is what China going to emphasize." Such peaceful rise will depend on other countries, the professor added. "It will depend on the United States accepting a much bigger role for China in east Asia," he said. "It will depend on Japan being willing to work with China and not against it." Therefore, his suggestion was "to be as cooperative as possible with regard to China" and "not to attempt to contain China within the region." On the other hand, Westad believed that China should ensure the peace within its region. "China has the great power within the region, and the responsibility to make sure that conflicts do not spilt over," he said.

"In the past when China was weak, the defence of national sovereignty or something is understandable and necessary. Now when China has reached a position above all other countries in the region, it needs to show that it can cooperate, that it can be magnanimous and work together with others," he said.

To achieve this, the professor underscored the importance of avoiding ambiguity in policy making. "We need a China that is aware of its own self-interest and takes clear decisions in terms of the way it wants to go," he said. "Uncertainty is dangerous, particularly when a country is rising very fast." Talking about China's new leaders, who pledged at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to "take the path of peaceful development" and "adopt the policy mutually beneficial with other countries", Westad saw the expressions "generally positive." "I hope this new Chinese leadership will live up to it," he said.

Looking into the future, he said the next five years would be significant for China. "What Chinese leaders' foreign policy in the next five years is going to be determining foreign view of China for the next 50 years, because this is the period when China has just risen to a position of great influence." "This is the new leadership's No.1 challenge," he said.

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