Neighbors bound by a shared future

China Daily
Lin Congyi
2023-01-31 08:49:47

Editor's note: The world has undergone many changes and shocks in recent years. Enhanced dialogue between scholars from China and overseas is needed to build mutual understanding on many problems the world faces. For this purpose, the China Watch Institute of China Daily and the National Institute for Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, jointly present this special column: The Global Strategy Dialogue, in which experts from China and abroad will offer insightful views, analysis and fresh perspectives on long-term strategic issues of global importance.


As the US tries to queer the pitch for its economy, China should offset its plan and build a sound environment to realize its development goals

China is currently facing an increasingly complex international situation in its surrounding areas with mounting uncertainties — cooperation and dialogue coexist with disputes and local conflicts. When discussing the situation in China's neighborhood, we should pay special attention to the fact that the problems are not caused by regional countries, but rather, external interference and provocations. Behind the rough winds is the United States. The international situation in China's surrounding areas is being strongly interfered in by the US.

The US has unveiled a slew of strategic measures to contain China, from its "Pivot to Asia" to "Rebalance to Asia", to the "Indo-Pacific Strategy", the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity" and eventually to the formation of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or QUAD — a strategic security dialogue among Australia, India, Japan and the US. The ultimate goal is to contain China's rise and hinder the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The conflict in Ukraine has turned into a crisis and is spreading across Europe. Besides, the US is relentlessly stoking confrontation and instigating its allies to destabilize China's surroundings to brew new crises. Therefore, in the face of new circumstances and new challenges, China needs to focus on creating a better international environment in its surrounding areas.

To start with, China's enduring development during the past decades is, to a great extent, dependent on creating and maintaining a sound, peaceful and stable environment within its neighborhood. China's fast development demonstrates that its reform and opening-up leads to benign interactions with its neighbors and the outside world.

At the same time, the neighboring countries and the region, too, have benefited from China's reform and opening-up. Therefore, in the face of the new problems and challenges being created by the US, China should continue to create a sound environment in the region to crush the US' plan, which is to pressurize China's neighboring countries to take sides or sow discord between China and its neighbors. An upgraded sound environment in China's neighborhood is the most important external environment for China to realize its development goals and the most critical means for China to break the US plan to contain it.

Second, China needs to create a better environment in its surrounding regions from a broader perspective of building a community with a shared future, which should be the fundamental goal and means of further improving the environment in the region.

China has put forth initiatives on building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, and a closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future. Furthermore, under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China has put forward initiatives for building an SCO community of health, security, development and cultural exchanges.

From a historical perspective, China and the vast majority of its neighboring countries share similar development process and problems. They have a common vision, mission and task in the pursuit of development, which requires them to jointly create a community with a shared future.

To suppress China's rise, the US has been courting China's neighbors, putting together exclusive "small circles" and "small groups" in its effort to create an anti-China camp. Boasting great political, economic cooperation and geographical advantages, China abandons the "small circles" and "small groups" mentality, and instead wants to share weal and woe with its neighbors by building a neighborhood community with a shared future.

Third, China should have networked cooperation with its neighbors under the Belt and Road Initiative. The initiative has been serving as a significant platform for building a community with a shared future for mankind, as well as for building a neighborhood community with a shared future.

The six international economic corridors under the Silk Road Economic Belt and the several routes under the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road should serve as important channels for China to strengthen policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity with its neighbors.

China should attach greater significance to treating its neighboring countries as important partners for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative and deepening practical cooperation under the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. As the year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of this initiative, China should, on the basis of past experience in cooperating with neighboring countries, explore new space and areas of cooperation, seek new potential, and broaden the convergence of interests with neighboring countries.

Fourth, China's diplomacy with its neighboring countries should strive for closer people-to-people ties. The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China reaffirmed the principles of China's diplomacy with its neighboring countries — acting on the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendships and partnerships with its neighbors. The vast majority of China's neighboring countries are developing countries. Guided by the principles of "sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith and with a commitment to the greater good and shared interests", China also endeavors to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries and safeguard the common interests of the developing world.

It is undeniable that China's rapid rise has triggered some anxiety and a sense of insecurity among certain neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the US continues to spread the "China threat theory" among China's neighboring countries, which exacerbates the strategic concerns of certain countries toward China. Therefore, when pressing ahead with its strategic engagements with its neighbors, China should take a comprehensive approach from the perspectives of soft power and closer people-to-people ties. China should better communicate the idea to the world that "the Chinese path to modernization is the modernization of peaceful development", which is emphasized by the 20th CPC National Congress, so as to squeeze the space for public opinion created by constant provocations by the US. Only in this way can China deepen mutual trust and affinity with its neighbors. 

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