Neighboring disputes need to be understood properly

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/26 23:38:40

Chinese people must contemplate and maintain a somber judgment of a major question: What are the key international challenges for China in its rise?

Due to various frictions in China's neighborhood in recent years, Chinese public opinion about some neighboring countries has deteriorated with calls on China to hit back at a few of them. Some Chinese hold that a stronger China is able to cope with neighboring troublemakers and China should vent its anger sometimes to build authority.

This is not wrong in logic. While China cherishes the period of strategic opportunity for peaceful development, a few neighbors take it as an opportunity to play hardball in solving their maritime and land disputes with China. They deem China unwilling to incur unnecessary troubles and meanwhile the US has shown evident intent to counter China's rise. Some even think that this is their last chance to force concessions out of China before it grows fully capable of countering US pressure.

China is not the one to blame for the increasing amount of friction on its periphery. But Chinese society needs to precisely understand these frictions and refrain from taking them as China's major strategic challenges and addressing them as China's main battlefield in its rise.

China's priority remains growing stronger. What we need to avert most is the US attempt to strategically contain China with its major Asia-Pacific allies. China has to patiently differentiate between the peripheral frictions and US pressure.

We need to be aware of some aspects. First, the provocations by China's neighbors are attempts at bargaining for benefits from China. These provocateurs don't have the intent or ability to strategically confront China. Secondly, China has the strategic initiative to resolve these peripheral disputes. The neighboring forces can't create a new reality against China's will and would be deceiving themselves even if they declared themselves to have done so.

Third, it doesn't take China much effort to prevent these forces from jeopardizing our sovereign interests. What's important now is in what way and at what pace should China achieve its critical interests.

Fourth, China should safeguard its sovereignty and avoid confrontation between peripheral sovereignty disputes and efforts to ease international strategic pressure that hamper China's rise. This is our basic tactic.

Friction with our neighbors can often capture wide attention and arouse a public outcry for a tougher stance by China. This must be handled well to ensure that Chinese society can stay cool-minded and our decisions are always made for the national interest rather than emotionally.

China needs strategic skill to maintain its overall cooperative relations with these countries while tackling disputes. China needs to deter but keep things friendly. We must stick to our principles but respect the interests of our neighbors.

Solving disputes with neighbors means much to China, as it needs to maximize its support and minimize opposition in its endeavor to achieve its ambitions. When a major country acts modestly, it actually shows a dignity that can accrue more power. Since no one in the world dare look down upon China, China needs to pay attention to more urgent issues.

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