Innovation will be decisive for China’s next development stage

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/12 16:08:40

Vicissitudes of international relations over the past 40 years show that growth and decline in power among major world powers is the most influential factor in international relations. For a long time in the future, the international situation will evolve around the rise of China, the decline of the US and the uncertain development level of Russia. 

Now people are talking about when China can surpass the US. That China will surpass the US in terms of GDP will soon be realized. But overtaking the US in comprehensive strength will be a more complicated, difficult and long-drawn process.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, during which it has made unprecedented achievements. I studied in Europe twice: First in Malta in 1978 and then at Cambridge in 1994. What I saw at that time was the huge gap between China and the Western countries. Now with the development of China, the gap has narrowed. We have even gained an edge over Western countries in some aspects.

The world has begun to look East, but we should realize that there is still a lot of room for us to make the country better. China's GDP per capita hasn't reached $10,000. We still have a long way to go to further deepen reform and open the market. While deepening reforms, we also have to refine them to make our cities more orderly and convenient and our countryside more beautiful and livable.

China is moving toward the center stage of the world. What we talked about 40 years ago was how to catch up with others, but now we are more concerned about how we can pass others. You can learn from others on the way to catch up with them, but have to depend on yourself to pass them.

The height that a nation can reach lies not in its ability to imitate but the ability to innovate. Chinese diplomats of my generation have done a lot in researching and learning from Western development experiences.

It will be far from enough if the younger generations remain only doing the same. Having no precedent to go by, they have to offer ideas on how China can transcend others. This is an arduous task. 

China-US relations have never been free of conflicts and struggles. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US, bilateral ties have been fraught. The two have disputes over a string of issues such as the Taiwan question, human rights, trade, the Tibet question and Xinjiang. The election of Donald Trump as US president has added uncertainties to China-US relations and intensified competition between the two major powers.

China should be wise to the fact that with its strength approaching that of the US, whoever assumes power in Washington, competition between the two countries will inevitably be more intense and fierce.

We should have two strings to our bow in dealing with the US. For one, we have to seek as much cooperation as possible, making the cake of common interests bigger. For the other, we must confront the tough with toughness over issues of principle, strive for cooperation through struggle and safeguard our legitimate interests.

With regard to trade war, as the two biggest economies of the world, the ongoing trade war between China and the US has had a negative impact on the two countries as well as the global economy.

Although the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina has been able to press a "pause" button, easing trade tensions for the moment, problems have not yet been completely solved. We shouldn't be too optimistic as it may become a protracted war.

Even if the trade war comes to an end, conflicts will still erupt between China and the US over trade, human rights, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang and so on in the future. We should fully prepare ourselves for that, and never be afraid of fighting to defend our interests and keep strategic patience.

The article is an abstract of a speech delivered by Yang Youming, former Chinese ambassador to Zambia, recently in Shanghai.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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