By Xu Hui
The International College of Defense Studies of the National Defense University (NDU) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently conducted a questionnaire among the foreign students about “whether China’s development is an opportunity or a challenge”. The results show that the vast majority of students hold that China’s development is an opportunity rather than a challenge to the world. Many of them acknowledged that China has created many opportunities for the world, and the reform and development of the Chinese military is conducive to maintaining world peace and prosperity.
What students said are true. At present, China is deepening the reform of its national defense and armed forces, striving to realize modernization of national defense and military by 2035, and to build the PLA into a world-class force thoroughly by the middle of 21st century. The resolution is based on the need to safeguard national security as well as the world peace.
However, China’s justified and reasonable need to “realize modernization of national defense and military” is often “demonized” by certain people with ulterior motives. In those people's discourse system, China is described as a country seeking military hegemony and posing challenges to the international order. This replica of the “China Threat Theory” can’t hold water in any way.
At present, the security environment surrounding China is complex and changeable. In order to cope with possible threats and violations of national sovereignty, China needs a well-equipped, well-trained quick reaction force. Moreover, the “three forces” of separatism, extremism and terrorism are eager for action; earthquakes, floods and other disasters also threaten the safety of people’s lives and properties. These complicated domestic security situations urge a strong armed force to shoulder its due responsibilities to protect the people.
Due to the intricate international and domestic situations, China has to develop necessary military strength to better cope with the security environment. The in-depth national defense and military reform to realize modernization of national defense and military is the road China must take to maintain national security. It has nothing to do with military hegemony, let alone challenging the international order.
The Chinese was, is and will be a peace-loving nation, and the concept of “harmony” is deeply rooted in Chinese political and cultural traditions. China weathered a hundred years of aggression by great powers in its modern history, which has left unforgettable painful memory on Chinese people. The nation, who has undergone humiliation and hardship, is now leaping from standing up, getting prosperous to getting stronger, and will never fall into the situation of national crisis due to the neglect of combat readiness, and will never impose the suffering they have experienced on other countries.
The culture of pursuing peace nourishes the "roots" of contemporary Chinese diplomacy. China always firmly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and sticks to the path of peaceful development. China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order. In the new era, China has proposed a series of new concepts and new ideas. The Belt and Road Initiative, the global governance concept of consultation, collaboration and sharing, the correct viewpoint of righteousness and benefit, the new security concept, all these proposals reflect the firm position of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and the Chinese government toward the peace-maintenance.
China is the country who contributes the largest number of peacekeeping military personnel among the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and the second largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations. China has also built an 8000-strong peacekeeping standby force and will send more engineering, medical, transportation and other troops to participate in peacekeeping operations.
In addition, the Chinese Navy has dispatched more than 30 escort taskforces to the Gulf of Aden and the Somali waters and completed over a thousand escort missions. And many of the ships escorted are foreign merchant ships. The Chinese military has been taking an active role in international peacekeeping and offshore escort operations, which fully shows that the PLA is a peace-loving armed force and it does take corresponding practical actions to shoulder the responsibility for peace-maintenance.
The development of the Chinese armed forces is to forge a sword of peace to better safeguard China’s security environment, and maintain the world peace and development. The modernization of China’s national defense and military will strengthen the world power of peace and be a blessing for both China and the world.
Disclaimer: The author is Xu Hui. The article was published on the PLA Daily on Dec. 18. It is translated from Chinese into English and edited by China Military online.