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China's peaceful rise

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Title: China's peaceful rise  
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Subject: Foreign relations of China, China containment policy, Anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States, New security concept, Political psychological rationalization
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China's peaceful rise

"China's peaceful rise" (simplified Chinese: 中国和平崛起; traditional Chinese: 中國和平崛起; pinyin: Zhōngguó hépíng juéqǐ) or sometimes referred to as China’s “peaceful development” was an official policy in China under the leadership of Hu Jintao.[1] The term was implemented to rebut against the “China threat theory” As China emerged as a great political, economic and military power, China wanted to assure other countries that its rise will not be a threat to peace and security. China implements this policy by internally harmonizing China’s society and externally, promoting a peaceful international environment. It seeks to characterize China as a responsible world leader, emphasizes soft power, and vows that China is committed to its own internal issues and improving the welfare of its own people before interfering with world affairs. The term suggests that China seeks to avoid unnecessary international confrontation.

The term proved controversial because the word 'rise' could fuel perceptions that China is a threat to the established order, so since 2004 the term China's peaceful development (simplified Chinese: 中国和平发展; traditional Chinese: 中國和平發展; pinyin: Zhōngguó hépíng fāzhǎn) has been used by the Chinese leadership.


Many of the ideas behind the effort to promote the concept of the peaceful rise of the PRC came from the new security concept, which was formulated by think tanks in the PRC in the mid-1990s.

The term itself was used in a speech given by the former Vice Principal of the Central Party School, Zheng Bijian, in late 2003 during the Boao Forum for Asia [2][1]. It was then reiterated by PRC premier Wen Jiabao in an ASEAN meeting as well as during his visit to the United States. It appears to be one of the first initiatives by the fourth generation of the leadership of the PRC, headed by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

In Zheng's speech he pointed out that in the past, a rise of a new power often resulted in drastic changes to global political structures, and even war (i.e. the hegemonic stability theory in international relations). He believed that this was because these powers "chose the road of aggression and expansion, which will ultimately fail." Zheng stated that in today's new world, the PRC should instead develop peaceably, and in turn help to maintain a peaceful international environment.

However, the term proved controversial among the Chinese leadership, in part because some officials thought use of the word 'rise' could fuel perceptions that China is a threat to the established order. At the 2004 session of the Boao Forum, Hu Jintao, Chinese president, used instead the phrase China's peaceful development. 'Peaceful development' has since been the definition generally used by senior officials, with 'peaceful rise' rarely heard.[3]

Main principle

The term is used primarily to reassure the nations of Asia and the United States that the rise of the PRC in military and economic prominence will not pose a threat to peace and stability, and that other nations will benefit from PRC's rising power and influence.

The doctrine emphasizes the importance of soft power and is based in part on the premise that good relations with its neighbors will enhance rather than diminish the comprehensive national power of the PRC. Part of this doctrine dictates that the PRC will avoid neo-mercantilism and protectionism.

In diplomacy, the doctrine calls for less assertiveness in border disputes such as those concerning the Spratly Islands, Diaoyu Islands, and South Tibet. China still has difficult relations with Japan and continues a military modernization program.[4]

Sino-American relations

The end of the Jiang Zemin presidency marked a turning point in Sino-American relations. A pattern of cooperative coexistence became the new normal. “The United States and China perceived that they needed each other because both were too large to be dominated, too special to be transformed, and too necessary to each other to be able to afford isolation.”[5] President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao brought a perspective that was unprecedented in the management of China’s development and in defining its role in the world. They represented the first crop of Chinese leaders with no personal experience with the Cultural Revolution and the first to assume power in a China that unambiguously was emerging as a great power. “Coming to power during a long period of sustained domestic growth and in the wake of China’s entry into the international economic order, they assumed the helm of a China undeniably “arriving” as a world power, with interests in every corner of the globe.”[5]

According to Henry Kissinger in his book On China, Zheng Bijian provided the "quasi-official" policy statement for China in a 2005 Foreign Affairs article.[5] Zheng promised that China had adopted a “strategy…to transcend the traditional ways for great powers to emerge.” China sought a “new international political and economic order,” but it was “one that can be achieved through incremental reforms and the democratization of international relations.” China would “not follow the path of Germany leading up to World War I or those of Germany and Japan leading up to World War II, when these countries violently plundered resources and pursued hegemony. Neither will China follow the path of the great powers vying for global domination during the Cold War.”[6]

Washington responded by describing China as a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. In a 2005 speech at the National Committee on United States—China Relations, Robert Zoellick, then Deputy Secretary of State, put forward the American response to Zheng’s article, which “amounted to an invitation to China to become a privileged member, and shaper, of the international system.”[5] Nonetheless, Amitai Etzioni of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies has frequently expressed concern that the United States' actions, in particular its development of AirSea Battle, belie its stated goals of cooperation with China, and that the two countries must deliberately retreat from what he views as a potential "collision course."[7]

State Councilor Dai Bingguo argues that China’s development is not some trick[5] where it “hides its brightness and bides its time,” or a naïve delusion that forfeits China’s advantages.[8] “Persisting with taking the path of peaceful development is not the product of a subjective imagination or of some kind of calculations. Rather, it is the result of our profound recognition that both the world today and China today have undergone tremendous changes as well as that China’s relations with the world today have also undergone great changes; hence it is necessary to make the best of the situation and adapt to the changes.”[8]

Dai rejects arguments that claim China will seek to dominate Asia or to displace the United States as the worlds preeminent power as “pure myths” that contradict China’s historical record and its current policies. He includes a striking invitation for the world to “supervise” China to confirm it would never seek hegemony: “Comrade Deng Xiaoping once stated: If one day China should seek to claim hegemony in the world, then the people of the world should expose, oppose and even fight against it. On this point, the international community can supervise us.”[8]


The PRC policy toward Taiwan is since 2005 determined by the Anti-Secession Law, which states that Taiwan should be united with mainland China, preferably by peaceful means, but in case Taiwan should formally declare independence or refuse to submit, the PRC will use force.[9]

Peaceful development road

The State Council of the People's Republic of China issued a white paper in 2005 defining the China's peaceful development strategy in theory and in practice. It has five chapters:

  1. China is the largest developing country, and economic development according to globalization is China's main goal. China seeks a multipolar world rather than hegemony, and seeks relations with other countries based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.[10]
  2. A peaceful international environment is essential for China's development. China's development is a major part of global development, as China has factored in world gains in poverty reduction, and strives to reduce its energy consumption. China's growth has lessened the effects of the Late-2000s recession.[10]
  3. China will develop according to science. It will develop its domestic market and pave a new path to industrialization that is cleaner, and makes more use of information technology and innovation by exploiting its human capital through education.[10]
  4. China will remain regional integration through institutions like the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. It will address trade and exchange rate conflicts on an equal footing with other countries. China will invest abroad and maintain its large labor force and exports for use abroad.[10]
  5. China will promote "democracy in international relations"; with countries interacting on an equal footing through dialog and multilateralism and not coercion. China will promote the full participation of developing countries in international affairs, and also help them develop themselves. There should be trust and not a "cold war mentality", and arms control and nuclear disarmament should be pursued. China will resolve its remaining border disputes peacefully.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Guo, Sujian (2007). China Journal. The University of Chicago Press. pp. 228–230. 
  2. ^ PAN Chengxin (2009): „‚Peaceful Rise and China’s new international contract: the state in change in transnational society“, in CHELAN LI, Linda: „The Chinese State in Transition, Processes and contests in local China“, Routledge Studies on China in Transition, p. 129.
  3. ^ China's Peaceful Rise in the 21st Century: Domestic and International Conditions, Edited by Sujian Guo (Ashgate Publishing, August 2006)
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e Kissinger, Henry (2011). On China. New York: The Penguin Press. p. 487.  
  6. ^ Bijian, Zheng (September–October 2005). "China’s ‘Peaceful Rise’ to Great-Power Status". Foreign Affairs 84 (5): 22.  
  7. ^ Amitai Etzioni, "China and the U.S.: Whose Strategic Mistake?" The Diplomat, June 6, 2014 [2].
  8. ^ a b c Bingguo, Dai (6 December 2010). "Persisting with Taking the Path of Peaceful Development". Beijing: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 
  9. ^ Full text of Anti-Secession Law "Article 8 In the event that the 'Taiwan independence' secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
  10. ^ a b c d e "Full Text: China's Peaceful Development Road".  

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