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The Roles China Ought to Play in the World

The Roles China Ought to Play in the World

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This policy brief outlines ways in which China can have a great impact on global foreign policy.
This policy brief outlines ways in which China can have a great impact on global foreign policy.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Aug 01, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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: As a rising power,China should take on greaterresponsibility 1) as a provider of  transnational values; 2) in rede-
fning its relationship with the
United States; 3) in contributing functionally to the global politicaleconomy, security, and the envi-ronment; and 4) as a restrainerof the preponderant power.
Stockholm China Forum
Paper Series
What roles should a rising China play in the world? Tey should includebeing, at the very least: 1) a providero transnational values concerningeconomic growth, liberty, social justice, and environmental protec-tion; 2) a strategic great power withthe capacity to redene the China-U.S.relationship; 3) a bearer o interna-tional responsibility in various unc-tional areas, requiring a substantialcontribution to the global politicaleconomy, security, and the environ-ment; and 4) a courageous but prudentrestrainer o the preponderant power,or the sake o world liberty and justice.
As a Provider ofTransnational Values
Modern transnational values canbe reduced into our broad catego-ries: economic growth, liberty, social justice, and, now, environmentalprotection. China’s greatest achieve-ment since the start o its “reorm andopening” period has been economicgrowth. However, although obtainingthe economic liberty o 1.3 billionpeople is a great contribution to globalprogress, this value in itsel is not aChinese innovation, and the pursuit o economic liberty in China is now, intoo many cases,
. Both the
The Roles China Ought to Playin the World
by Shi Yinhong 
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 683 2650F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
July 2011
government and the public increas-ingly believe that this achievement hasbeen at the expense o social justiceand environmental protection. Tere isstill a very long way to go beore Chinaully realizes some other basic libertiesor its people.In the context o China’s develop-ment and its impact on the world,we Chinese have an increasingly rm condence in the growth o ournational strength. But, despite China’seconomic success, it is dicult topredict what major contributionscontemporary China will make to thetransnational value complex.However, it should be emphasizedthat China has already contributedan innovative historic value to theworld, created by Mao Zedong in hisnest years, rom the latter 1920s toearly 1950s, and then adapted by DengXiaoping or contemporary China.Tat is, what is most important anddecisive is the Chinese’ own prac-tice and experience in the particularChinese circumstances and situa-tion; what is best or Washington orMoscow or elsewhere is not necessarily best or China, just as what is bestor China is not necessarily best oranywhere else; people are entitled tomove on their own roads respectively 
Stockholm China Forum
Paper Series
according to their own practice, experience, and decisions.Tis “local” Chinese experience, vindicated by its successulrevolution, reorm, and growth, promises to be globally signicant.
As a Strategic Great Power
On the assumption that Chinas peaceul rise continues,the United States will consider Chinas role in the worldwith increasing seriousness, and may eventually even adopta peaceul “nal settlement.” Tis will require an under-standing o the dierent balances o strength and inuencein various unctional and geographical areas and the adop-tion o the rationale o “selective preponderances” (insteado “comprehensive superiority”) or “advantage distribution.”Tis means not only accepting the leading position thatChina might obtain in terms o GDP, oreign trade volume,and diplomatic/economic inuence in Asia, but alsoaccepting the idea o mutual strategic deterrence betweenChina and the United States. Tis may include China’smilitary parity or even a marginal superiority to the UnitedStates in the ormer’s oshore area (with aiwan’s east coast-line as the approximate demarcation line) and a peaceul(or basically so) reunication o the two sides o the aiwanStraits, together with Chinas strategic space in a narrowbut substantial span o the western Pacic. Meanwhile, theUnited States, with China’s acceptance, would retain overallmilitary superiority more generally, and in the central andwestern Pacic in particular, as well as predominance o diplomatic inuence in other regions. All o this wouldnecessitate power-sharing between China and the UnitedStates, and would require the United States to accept apeaceul China as a world power.On the other hand, the great power “structural rivalry”between China and the United States is becoming morepronounced. China’s continuing military build-up willincreasingly become the prominent concern o Americanstrategists and neo-conservatives. Since the Reagan admin-istration, the United States has been determined to maintainmilitary superiority, perceiving it to be the most signicantstrategic asset. Meanwhile, China has resolved to modernizeits military or the sake o its vital national interests andsel-respect. Tis contradiction is surely not absent o thepossibility o paralyzing uture Sino-U.S. relations.
As a Bearer of International Responsibility
Tere are some emerging problems with long term signi-cance or Chinas grand strategy, especially in its relationswith the West, as well as in the increasingly prominent issueo global governance. Tese largely concern the interna-tional responsibilities that should be borne by a risingChina and, especially in the eyes o the West, it has not yetborne suciently. What is increasingly needed is China’sassurance, through words as well as through deeds, o aresponsible rise, in addition to its long-declared peaceulrise.Tere should be no doubt that China should greatly increase the extent to which it bears international respon-sibility, insoar as this 1) does not violate China’s vitalinterests and surpass its undamental capabilities; 2) resultsrom an equal consultation between China and the rest o the world, rather than rom dictation or coercion; and 3)correlates to an increase in international rights and privi-leges. “International responsibility” is rapidly becoming akey phrase in the discourse on China’s grand strategy andoreign policy, and it presents a major challenge that Chinawill need to meet. It should not be orgotten that China ishome to about one-fh o the world’s population, and, assuch, the extent to which it bears international responsi-bility will correspondingly benet the Chinese people.It is right or China to resist some o what it eels are themore unreasonable demands and pressures rom the West.At the same time, it is also right or China to substantially increase its commitment to addressing global challengesin pursuit o the common enterprise. Tese two assertionsare not mutually exclusive. In particular, China should takegreater responsibility or reducing its oreign trade surplus,should demonstrate a greater commitment to environ-mental protection, and should engage urther on nonpro-
China’s continuing military build-up will increasingly become theprominent concern of Americanstrategists.
Stockholm China Forum
Paper Series
lieration and regional security cooperation. An increasedcommitment to the bearing o international responsibility is paramount to China’s healthy development within, and toits strategic security without.
As a Courageous Restrainer on the Excess of Power
Te role China will play in the world over both the shortand long term is closely connected to this undamentalquestion: what will Chinas oreign policy orientation be?A peaceul rise will, and should, continue to be an indis-pensable element in China’s oreign policy orientation,but should be ar rom its totality. Since Deng Xiaopinglaunched the period o reorm and opening up, China hashad the ollowing orientation in its oreign policy: throughpeaceul rise, including consistent strategic prudenceand diplomatic accommodation ofen characterized by compromise, China shall ultimately become a world powerindependent both politically and mentally. Deng Xiaopinghimsel emphasized that “China….will be anyway onepolar” in the overall “multi-polar” power structure theworld will and ought to have in the uture.In pursuit o that goal, China should check American powergently and with moderation — but consistently. It will benecessary or China to have a comprehensive and balanceddiplomacy, paying sucient attention to its relations withthe United States and striving or a better selective partner-ship, whilst positioning the gravity o its diplomatic atten-tion and strategic operation in Asia. China should thereoredeal with its Asian neighbors within a holistic strategicramework. Insoar as it does not severely damage China’s vital interests and national honor, the Chinese governmentmust do its utmost to keep old riends and win new onesalong its geographical periphery, mitigating old resent-ments, avoiding new antagonism, and, over the longer term,creating strategic partners or even allies. Along a similar vein, China needs to pay sucient attention to its relationswith powers outside o the United States and Asia.Tis oreign policy orientation implies a set o domesticrequirements and conditions. It will require that theChinese state and society is made healthier throughdomestic reorm and the reduction o excessive interde-pendence with the United States in terms o the politicaleconomy. At the same time, and with similar importance,the Chinese government will need to be both coura-geous and skillul in the way it handles its public opinionwhich, in recent years, has become less patient, more easily angered, and has ofen underestimated Chinas neighbors.Since 2008, some in China have held a contending oreignpolicy orientation: “G2 — the Chinese version.” Tisorientation suggests that the United States, as the world’ssuperpower, must be given an overwhelmingly prepon-derant position in the Chinese oreign policy agenda. Italso implies that Chinas interdependence with the UnitedStates in terms o the political economy should increaseeven urther. Tose holding this belie seem to be convincedthat “extra accommodation” will reduce troubles rom theUnited States whilst enabling China to treat the numerousother troublemakers more orceully or less attentively. And,they believe, or hope, that it will also encourage the UnitedStates to recognize, and possibly even assist, Chinas riseto “No. 2” status. Tey obviously have more delusions, lessstrategic sense, and less great power aspiration than othersin China.
Libya: a Case Study
Te recent uprisings in North Arica and the Middle Easthave aected China’s position on the principal o non-intervention. It is probable that the Chinese governmentbelieved it had no choice than to allow the UN Security Council to adopt Resolution 1973, giving the internationalcommunity the authority to establish a no-y zone overLibya. It was clear that the United States, France, and theUnited Kingdom were determined to launch a military strike in support o the armed insurgents in Libya, and thata number o Arab and Arican countries supported andeven intended to join the armed intervention. Had Beijing vetoed the resolution, China’s relations with both the Westand the Arab countries involved would have temporarily become strained. It was also obvious to China that even i 
The Chinese government mustdo its utmost to keep old friendsand win new ones along itsgeographical periphery.

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