We're China: #^&% You!
|Last Wednesday I went and listened to the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, speak at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). |
I didn't get my question about China's intentions towards Africa answered but there were still many interesting points.
Ambassador Zhou touched on several major points during his speech but the overarching theme concerned the idea that China is building a "Harmonious society". "Harmonious society" is the name of the ideological campaign that was developed in response to the impression among the Chinese that their government was over emphasizing economic development and ignoring the importance of social justice. The ambassador re-iterated the stated goals of the "Harmonious society", which were initially proposed by Chinese President Hu Jintau, that China is committed to the development of "democracy, the rule of law, justice, sincerity, amity, and vitality".
The Ambassador stated that China is at the "primary stage" of socialism and that it will remain there for a long time to come. He characterized the "primary stage" as one of underdevelopment and said that China recognizes that its system of socialism is not perfect and that it needs and will receive improvement. He called improving economic development and achieving social justice the two historical tasks for China.
Since instituting market reforms, the quality of life of Chinese citizens has improved greatly but China still has significant challenges to overcome. Challenges include increased economic gaps between urban and rural Chinese as well as increased corruption. The government had overemphasized economic growth without enough of a focus on increasing social justice. "Social fairness and justice lack sufficient safeguards."
The Ambassador listed major tasks for the government to complete by 2020: to build a comprehensive socialist democracy, legal system, and rule of law. To provide better protection for the people’s rights and interests, to gradually reverse the trend of widening disparity between urban and rural areas, to build an income distribution structure and social security network to cover both urban and rural residents, to improve basic public health services and education, to increase the efficient use of natural resources and to noticeably improve the environment. The overall goal is to allow all Chinese to enjoy the benefits of reform and economic growth.
The Ambassador also made the case that building a harmonious society in China will have implications on the world stage, with positive impact on world peace and prosperity. "When reflected in China’s foreign policy, the concept of 'Harmonious society' point to an inevitable choice of firm adherence to the role of peaceful development, a choice that is based on our judgments of the current situation in the world and our historical heritage and the realistic national conditions." It is the Chinese view that peace and development are the trend of the times. They believe it is unlikely that a major war could breakout in the near future and that they can use their economic development to help promote world peace.
The Ambassador stated that China builds relationships with all the countries of the world based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence (mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence). China treats all countries as equals regardless of size and strength.
"China opposes hegemony and will never seek hegemony." (This one I find particularly hard to believe.)
The talk was mostly cordial but there is an unmistakable air that China believes their ascension is inevitable and, while they try to not say too many inflammatory things and try to portray themselves in a good international light, they will pretty much do as they damn well please.