China in a partnership for peace?
|September 19th, 2015|
|tags:||Asia, China, United Nations, Xi Jinping|
Since 1981 the United Nations General Assembly has declared this, “A day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.”
For China, this day is notably significant as the nation stands on the cusp of change. Predicted to become the world’s largest economy in the next decade, the emerging global super power is under the watchful eye of the world. It is a crucial time for China to show its commitment to cooperate on a global level.
The question hovering on everyone’s lips: Can China ensure a future that is peaceful and mutually prosperous as opposed to one that involves great challenges?
This month will see the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China in the spotlight with President Xi Jinping’s first State visit to the U.S since he came to office in 2013. The September 24th visit is being touted as a great opportunity for China to guarantee peace and prosperity in Asia and an opportunity for the two countries to build mutual trust.
In an interview with China’s only English newspaper, China Daily, China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi said, the two leaders are expected to “further chart the course of the China-US relationship…particularly the new model of major country relationship.” He also said, the two countries will do a lot for the Asia Pacific region and the world as a whole. Internationally, he said, America and China have worked in coordination with other countries for peace, stability and development. “This state visit is a good opportunity for the two countries to enhance their strategic trust, to deepen their cooperation and to properly manage the differences between them. And this will be in the best interests of the world as a whole.”
Ties between the two countries have been strained of late with tension over disputes surrounding the South China Sea and cyber security. It’s been said that these disputes are forcing some regional countries to take sides.
China has reiterated its desire for a peaceful resolution on the South China Sea issue asking for the U.S to remain neutral in its views. “The disputes are those between China and some countries in the South China Sea region and we do hope the United States does not get involved in these disputes as it has promised.” Yang said.
Regarding cyber security, Yang said, “It needs to be a point of mutual cooperation.” Also on the leaders’ agenda, it’s expected a host of other things will be put on the table, including climate change, world health and of course global stability.
This year also celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and after his U.S visit, President Xi Jinping is expected to go to a number of UN summits including the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Summit to show China’s commitment and support to the UN system. As well, China is co hosting a summit on women’s empowerment.
It comes on the back of a busy month that has seen China on show to the world in more ways than one. Despite an economic slowdown sparking global concern, China marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and defeat over Japan with a spectacle of grand proportions. Currently, China boasts the world’s biggest military and the procession didn’t disappoint, showcasing a myriad of new, sophisticated hardware many in the West viewed as a muscle-flexing exercise. The advanced weaponry was paraded alongside 12,000 troops; the historical event interpreted as China sending out an assertive message of its strength and power to the world.
Despite the display of military clout, President Xi Jinping used the commemorations to announce he was cutting the People’s Liberation Army by 300,000, declaring the military is “loyally committed to its sacred duty of defending the security of the motherland and the peaceful life of the people, and loyally committed to the sacred duty of safeguarding world peace.”
Many including Rory Medcalf, the head of the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra, say the reductions will do little to reassure regional stability, instead it’s a modernization program to shift the PLA’s resources from traditional land forces to modern weapons.
About 30 heads of state and government leaders attended the V-Day parade, including Russian President Vladimir Putin with many western leaders conspicuous in their absence. But in spite of the largely western boycott, combined with the recent slowdown in the economy, on going climate change and pollution problems, territorial disputes, not to mention internal challenges like the recent explosion in Tianjin, China remains steadfast in its determination to present peaceful intentions to the world.
And for all intents and purposes, on this International Day of Peace it seems the resounding message is: regional stability is at the forefront of this rising super power’s mind.
In the words of President Xi Jinping, “We Chinese love peace. No matter how strong it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation. The Chinese people are resolved to pursue friendly relations with all other countries.”