The rise of China benefits its neighbors

By Zhou Fangyin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/31 20:13:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The phenomenal rise in China's global influence since the international financial crisis of 2008 has made some neighboring countries worried. Skeptics in the international community said that the rise of China dealt a blow to the international order and sowed uncertainty in the region. This voice is quite popular in the US and its allies.

Recently, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heaped praise upon India while demeaning China; Secretary of Defense James Mattis cozied up to ASEAN countries in the Philippines, charging China with promoting predatory economic principles. Are these claims based on facts? What on earth did China's rise bring to its neighbors? Plunder, threat or a more positive spillover effect?

There is no doubt that China's rise has had a positive effect on the economic development and prosperity of its surrounding countries. The financial crisis has had a tremendous impact on the world economy, and even as of today, Europe has been unable to emerge from the debt crisis. By contrast, the crisis had very little impact on East Asia; Australia and New Zealand, closely linked to China and the Asian economy, have not been hit hard.

China is actively propelling the Belt and Road initiative, sharing its own development experience and striving to promote infrastructure building that many Western countries and international financial institutions were not willing to participate in. What's more, China's investment in its neighboring countries multiplied and numerous Chinese outbound tourists have become the target that many countries fight for. China is willing to make concessions when dealing with neighboring countries and has brought tangible benefits to their economic development.

The security situation over the past few years has undergone complicated changes and instability in some regions has increased. In contrast, although there are many potential hot button issues in East Asia, the overall situation remains stable.

In East Asia, China is on the cusp of some burning issues and the US acted to stoke the fire. Without China's restraint on regional security issues or its patience in positively promoting regional economic cooperation, the relative stability cannot be achieved.

The rise of China has raised East Asia's geopolitical status, drawing more international attention back on this region and making East Asia a new center in the international system.

China's active participation in regional affairs and the continuous expansion of its global influence have lent greater international significance to ASEAN-centric cooperation, including ASEAN "10 plus 1" and "10 plus 3" mechanisms and ASEAN regional forums. India has received much attention from the international community, which is related to its role in the rise of China.

At the conceptual level, the rise of China has further broadened its neighbors' mind-set for economic development, widening their policy options. They are more clearly aware of the various options of development. The key is to find a pragmatic path to meet the needs of their own independent development, which strengthens the confidence of some countries in economic progress. In terms of social governance, civilizational intercourse and cultural exchanges, China has contributed a lot of new ideas to the international community.

The rise of China is a process of mutual adaptation and co-evolution with its periphery. Its effect is very complicated and multi-dimensional. It is normal to come across certain changes, hits, doubts or misunderstandings in the process. China has proposed the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and works hard to build a community of common destiny with its surrounding countries. China's will is sincere, and the results are positive. It is wrong to describe China's intentions as malicious or to portray the effect of China's rise in a negative way.

The author is a professor at the Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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