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
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
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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