（节选自Jonathan Holslag的论文“Challenges to China's Peaceful Rise，” Analysis ISPI, No.212, November 2013）
The case for peaceful development
China’s new leaders have made their case for peaceful development forcefully. The first main argument running through the discourses of the leadership is that their country’s development creates great opportunities and that globalization spreads them to all corners of the world. Mutually beneficial economic cooperation and trade, they posit, are advanced through a division of labour. No delegation passes by without Chinese interlocutors emphasizing the specialization in bilateral trade relations. During a visit to a China-ASEAN expo, Premier Li Keqiang stressed, for instance, that China and ASEAN were becoming “two wheels of regional and global trade rolling together”.
The second assertion is that China seeks to settle differences with other countries through multilateralism and that it is dedicated to help developing a more solid architecture of international organizations. Xi Jinping, for example, stressed his commitment to “safeguard and consolidate” multilateral cooperation. Decision-makers like to highlight that this engagement with multilateralism unfolded at various levels. Within the G-20 China plays a pivotal role in discussions about governing the new global order. In Asia it is involved in crafting open trade regimes and finding a solution to conflicts like the wrangling over the South China Sea or the Korean Peninsula. In Africa, Chinese envoys take pride in assisting the African Union in its labourious quest for regional stability, not the least by erecting its brand new headquarters.
Thirdly, Beijing asserts that war and coercion no longer pay off. It says to adhere to a strict policy of strategic self-restraint. A gesture of its benign intentions, Beijing concluded agreements with 12 neighbouring countries over the demarcation of tractions of its disputed land border. While continuing to signal its claims in the East and South China Seas, the Chinese government reiterated time and again that military muscle flexing offers no solution and that joint development of the abundant offshore resources could help overcome disputes. Mistrust about China using its economic clout to impel other countries into political concessions is also brushed away, as leaders stress that a rising power can only grow smoothly if it allows its partners to negotiate on an equal footing.
The most intriguing part of China’s narrating on peaceful development, is how it seeks to bridge the differences in interests between developing states that place the national interest above individual rights and developed countries that are expected to be more liberal. While sovereignty and national unity run as a red line throughout official statements, Chinese leaders also stress that people share universal aspirations, including their longing for personal freedom, while arguing that it takes a long process of economic development for them also to come into full bloom as universal values. By putting development first, the emphasis is on the process, which is one of convergence and the formation of a global society, rather than static differences among states. Chinese leaders have by and large recognized that there is a global trend of normative convergence, but also that it is up to states to make sure that this transpires in an orderly way.
Hence, as regards defence of peaceful development, the Chinese government has tapped at least into the right repertory of liberal if not idealist principles. It has gone even further to demonstrate that these principles are not just shrewd propaganda. On the one hand, it argues that there is no alternative to peaceful development. China’s growth is strongly interdependent with the economic success and development of other nations. A vast continental state that borders several other needy juggernauts, China cannot but foster a stable form of regional coexistence. On the other hand, leaders claim that there is no way back. China has become so deeply integrated into the global society that its captains of industry, opinion leaders, and officials already think very much like ‘responsible stakeholders’. As Cui Liru, President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, put it: “Economic interlocking has given rise to a variety of communities with shared interests among nations”. The irreversibility of China’s peaceful rise is also said to result from a deep internalization of cooperative values, values that are drawn from both the recent experience of successful international cooperation and the historical legacy of mainly Confucian thought.