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Strategic considerations needed for benign interaction between development, security

Author  :  Zhang Yunling     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-04-10

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, gave an address at a plenum of the delegation of the People’s Liberation Army and armed police at the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress on March 12. He reiterated that national defense and military development are the common concern of the Party, the army and people of all ethnic groups. The Party committees and governments at all levels should do more to support the cause of defense and military advancement, while the armed forces should render their service to economic and social development. 

Xi’s remarks explicitly called for efforts to guarantee national development and security issues. It was also stated in the 19th CPC National Congress report that we should ensure both development and security while remaining vigilant against potential dangers in peacetime. This is a major principle underlying the Party‘s governing philosophy.

The paramount issue for a country is its national security. Experiencing waning national strength, China had once lost the fundamental ability to defend its sovereignty and safeguard its own security as it entered modern times, and it declined to the point where the country was vulnerable to invasion and division. The founding of the New China reversed the country’s downward trajectory, but for a long time, the country continued to take a passive stance toward maintaining its security. This was chiefly due to the underdeveloped economy and insufficient comprehensive national power. It can be seen that backwardness of development is the internal cause of national security vulnerabilities. 

The dawn of the reform and opening up brought prosperity and power to the country, having rapidly improved China’s economic, scientific and technological development, national defense capability as well as comprehensive national power.

One of the important reasons that the reform and opening up brought radical and substantial changes to China was that it spurred major shifts in the country’s development concepts and strategies. By prioritizing economic development above all else, China also actively created favorable security conditions to ensure its development. While emancipating and developing productive forces and improving the efficiency of resource allocation, the country transformed the way it managed relations with the outside world through taking the initiative to mend and develop its relations with other countries and alleviating external security threats. 

Clearly, the development-centered approach to constructing its security environment allowed China to shed passiveness in security maintenance. Based on this, China made further efforts to resolve the remaining historical land and boundary disputes through negotiations and actively participated in the construction of various regional cooperation mechanisms, which not only improved its security environment but also laid a solid foundation for the development of its foreign economic relations, achieving the benign interaction between development and security.

To ensure both development and security, complicated and multi-dimensional strategic considerations should be taken into account. For today’s China to effectively maintain national security as its economy and comprehensive national power rapidly rise, it is crucial to create a favorable security environment and build a new type of international relations and global order, which can be generally analyzed from four points of view. 

The first is to optimize the overall environment of both the land and the sea. Rejecting the expansive and hegemonic path that traditional powers have usually adopted, China advocates global governance based on new development concepts and follows the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration in its process of creating peaceful environment for development. The “Belt and Road” initiative and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind are all international initiatives that have been proposed based on the concept that cooperation is indispensable for development and security.

The second is to settle disputes in a peaceful way and establish a new type of relations with neighboring countries. Different approaches in different contexts are needed to strike a balance between the pursuit of interests and the maintenance of peace and stability. To realize this, both national strength and wisdom are necessary. 

Last, it is crucial to properly manage relations with other major world powers. This includes building a generally stable framework of major power relations with coordinated and balanced development between each other and a new type of major power relations that is based on “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation.”


This article was edited and translated from the People’s Daily. Zhang Yunling is a Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and director of the Academic Division of International Studies at the academy.



(Edited and translated by BAI LE)









Editor: Yu Hui

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