China’s recent assertive attitude in terms of international relations has in many cases annoyed its neighbors and can only server to drive those neighbors farther into the embrace of the West. However there may be signals the China may yet change course on its policies.
According to newly-released economic statistics, China achieved a 10.3% GDP growth rate surpassing Japan to become the second largest economy in the world in 2010. People are witnessing a new superpower emerge in the world and in the people a genuine hope is emerging, a hope that this superpower with respond responsibly to international needs.
Also this year, British journalist Martin Jacques’ bestseller “When China rules the World” garnered notable attention, particularly after it was translated into Chinese. In contrast to elation of Chinese population, however, some prominent China experts in the West reacted sceptically, pointing out that, in order to achieve the same level of development of U.S, China certainly has a long way to go. Just one year before the book was published, “Newsweek” published “Why China Won’t Rule the World”. The author Minxin Pei underscored that even after the economic recession, there are so many domestic challenges Chinese leaders are facing, so “they have no cause to celebrate”. The conflicting predictions of “When China rules the World” and “Why China Won’t Rule the World” are understandable because the arguments are based on different perspectives.
Unfortunately, Chinese leaders seem to have their own ideas about how to play the game in the foreign affairs arena. They believe that this is the time for China to stand out and “Say No”. In recent years, they said no to countries who have claimed territory on South China Sea; they said no to Japan on dispute of a fishing boat near Japanese-controlled island; they said no to neighbour who asked China to accuse the North Korea; and they said no to U.S who wants China to raise value of its currency. Meanwhile, China intentionally showed off its new J-20 stealth fighter when U.S secretary of defence was visiting in the country. To top it all off, China treated Noble Peace Price winner as a villain and kept him in prison despite great international pressure.
China’s belligerent approach did not make the country more popular and welcomed in the world. China’s assertive attitude instead drives neighbouring states into the embrace of Western world. “China’s new tough attitude is both dangerous and counterproductive,” “The Economists” warned. Despite their track record, Chinese leaders are capable of heading advice. Although we recently observed Chinese President Hu Jintao on a recent trip to the United States repeating the same old line about how internal affairs should be respected and not interfered with (particularly as to human rights issues) his visit to this real superpower may, in fact, signals that China may yet change course on its foreign policies.
Jan 28, 2011 Hong Kong
Published on Asia Times