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Mutual Cooperation Needed During Peaceful Rise

 

  Be Confident that China, her Neighbors and Other Powers can Keep Cooperating during her Peaceful Rise -- An Interview with Professor Zhang Yunling

On December 28th 2011, the CASS Academic Division of International Studies (a group of institutes in the fields of international affairs and regional studies in CASS) held the “International Hot Issues Seminar” in Beijing. Scholars from 8 institutes of international studies in CASS discussed some heat topics in the world today, such as the world economic situation, the new trends of the politics among powers and regional hot issues. During the seminar, Liu Yue (LY), reporter of CSSN, interviewed Zhang Yunling, Director of Academic Division of International Studies, on the issue of peaceful rise of China. The following is the text of the video made from the dialogue. — Interviewer: Liu Yue / Photography by Zhang Guochan / Video Produced by Zheng Jiali

LY:How do you see the Mekong River issue (there were 12 Chinese fishermen killed in November 2011)? Do you have any suggestions about the common security problems of the international shipping channel which this incident highlights?

Zhang Yunling: Nowadays, this non-traditional security is a big issue for us, and the Mekong River issue is closely related to the China-ASEAN relationship. There are two mechanisms, one is China-ASEAN cooperation in general, and the other is GMS. Under the GMS, one of the programs is to open the Mekong River navigation. Before that, there were a lot of blocks, and the river itself could not be used. Under this cooperation, 5 years ago, the Mekong River Project started. China provided a lot of assistance to open this river from the upper to the lower part. Though the navigation has opened, there is still one question left open: the common security issue. The river passes through an unstable area, because in Myanmar there are several rebel groups, and also gangsters and robbers. I remember that about 3 years ago I paid a visit to the region to investigate the security issues in the area, especially along the Mekong River. The local people already complained that although the river had opened, the security issue hadn’t been solved. There is a requirement to move to high-level cooperation. But this kind of cooperation isn’t easy, because it touches upon basic sovereignty issues, because you have to cross borders, and to solve the issue you need central cooperation. Especially for the armed forces, if you cross a border it becomes a very sensitive issue, also to China, because China’s on the upper side, so a lot of foreign media said that if you open it China will pass through the Mekong River and send its warships, so it’s a very sensitive issue. But this accident, in which 12 Chinese were killed, put it on the agenda. We have to solve this issue, because the Mekong River navigation and regional trade is so important for the south-west China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. It’s very important and can help the locals a lot. So I think the countries are related and can use this occasion to raise the cooperation level and create a joint security team and information system, so I think this is a great step, not only for the navigation of the Mekong River itself, but also for the common security issue on a higher level because we also have the highway security issue, for instance, the Kunming-Bangkok highway. It’s open, but the local security is still a problem, and there is also the management issue, how to make it smooth, cheaper and easier. After the cold war, non-traditional security became a very important area for China and ASEAN countries to cooperate. In the past, we had cooperation on anti-drugs, corruption, and a lot of other areas. Now we have a connectivity program between China and ASEAN countries, so this is an important issue, and shows how China sincerely cooperates with other countries, and we request Thailand to investigate, but at the same time we pay more attention to the cooperation, how to create security cooperation networks, beneficial not only to China, but also to other countries.

LY: Asia is rising, and China is rising. How should China handle relations with neighboring countries, in order for China to be able to continue its peaceful rise without prejudicing its national interests?

Zhang Yunling: China is committed to continue to keep its peace and policy, but however China’s rise is a big issue, and they have to readjust. China itself has to readjust. China’s rise is a big thing. On the one hand, people see its positive side, it provides common interests, and China has become the number-one market for all our neighbors. The other countries feel this benefit from China’s rise. On the other hand, they have to adjust; they feel some kind of a threat. For instance, there is China’s strong competition on local business, but also people are worried about China’s rise not just economically, but also at the level of politics, security, military force. How to solve it? Also, there are a lot of disputes between China and its neighbors, so they are concerned with how China will use this power in the future. So this kind of thing, they are new emerging issues and we have to handle them carefully. But in my understanding, China is not facing an encircling environment at all. The media says that it seems that China’s been encircled by an anti-China alliance, but I don’t think so, because China and its neighbors have already established so many cooperation mechanisms, and cooperation frameworks are quite open, so we have so many leaders’ meetings, ministers meetings, and also the people have more travel and business contact, so they know each other more and more. That’s one thing. It’s not a closed structure, that’s a big difference if you compare it with the historical power of China. In those times it was just an up-to-down relationship, but now it’s a parallel with equality and participation. The second thing is the interests and benefits. So China’s become so important, as I mentioned, it’s the number-one market for neighboring countries and China’s investment continues to increase, so many countries, even Japan, realize they can’t leave china aside, they have to rely on China’s market for future development. For ASEAN and the Central Asia, it’s also true. So, though they are worried about China’s emergence and competitio, they have to seek the opportunities along with China’s continuous rise.

  The third is the disputes. China has to handle all these disputes carefully. China does not use forcing ways, doesn’t want to use military ways to solve these disputes, so we continue to keep this dialogue and cooperation policy, even on the South China Sea, with which everyone is concerned. And on the one handm we have a cooperation framework, China and ASEAN signed a declaration to handle the regional stability. On the other hand, China always called for solving these disputes through negotiations rather than with one-sided forcing ways. From last year, it seems the South China Sea became a big issue, but actually Chinese leaders cooperated with ASEAN countries’ leaders, Vietnam and the Philippines’ leaders, and China’s leaders visited Vietnam and South East Asian countries. So I think China still hopes we can find a way to manage these disputes, and then seek the way to solve them for the long term. China does not hope this kind of dispute will hurt our bilatreal relationships on the whole.

LY: How do you see the United States’” Return to Asia "policy, and do you have any suggestion on how China should respond to this?

Zhang Yunling: This is a complex issue. So many outside forces try to assert their influence, and use it for their own interests, like the US coming back to Asia, trying to play the role of a savior and defender for other countries. But, in fact, the US can’t play such a role, we have to solve it our own way, but of course the US has to cooperate. Because China and the US are now in the same framework -- the East Asia Summit -- so we have opportunities to handle it. But on the US side, they have to consider that a confrontational relationship will not be beneficial to US interests at all, and the other countries in the region don’t want to see a confrontational US-China relationship at all. If the US does too much which they think hurts their interests, they won’t allow it to do that, so I think we still have a big room for China to operate, which can help us bring forward this peaceful and developing environment. China itself should have a very strong confidence to manage this kind of issue, rather than feeling it is encircled by hostile forces and there’s almost no room. I think this is wrong, we should have full confidence, and we should believe our neighbors have the wish and interest to work together with China. Based on this mutual understanding, we can create a better future.

Editor: Du Mei     Source:Chinese Social Sciences Net     2013-12-23 12:00:00

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