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China's focus on peace, co-operation

By Liu Xiaoming | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-24 07:29

A quote attributed to Mark Twain goes like this: A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. This time round, a US politician bragged about his country "rebuilding China" in front of the whole world contrary to the facts. The international community should be reminded of the truth.

The truth is, no one in the world has the capability to "rebuild China", except its 1.4 billion people. The Chinese people have the right to pursue a better life, like every other country and people. To this end, China has a social system and is following a development path that suit it.

After 40 years of reform and opening up since 1978, China has, through relentless exploration, blazed a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics based on its national conditions. This path has led to profound changes, tremendous prosperity in China and better lives for its people. China's development achievements are not because of a handout from others but the results of decades of hard work by the Chinese people. No one can claim the credit for them but the people of China. The Chinese people are best positioned to judge whether this path is improving their lives.

China's path is also one of mutually-beneficial cooperation with other countries, which has created huge opportunities for the rest of the world. The Chinese people will not be swayed from this path, nor can anyone stop them from marching forward on it. China's reforms will continue on all fronts and it will continue to expand its opening up. Rather than trying to challenge or replace anybody, China seeks to improve the lives of its own people, and stands ready to share the benefits of its development with the world.

The traditional Western belief in power politics, that "a strong country is bound to seek hegemony" and thus "China is bound to challenge and replace the US leadership", has led to the current escalating trade dispute between the two countries. But this is a big misconception of China's development intentions, because China is pursuing a path of peaceful development untrodden by the established powers.

Historically, China was one of the most powerful countries in the world, but it never colonized or invaded any other country. Nor has the People's Republic of China started a single war or conflict over the past 69 years since its founding. Today, peace, development and win-win cooperation are the trend of the times. As the world's largest developing country, China takes as its ultimate goal to provide a better life for its people rather than challenge or replace the leadership of others, and works for harmony and stability at home as well as a peaceful and tranquil environment overseas. These are the rationale for China's pursuit of peaceful development. It is time for the US to shake off the shackles of outdated ideas of invasion, expansion, hegemony and bullying, and come round and appreciate China's win-win cooperation with the world.

China's approach to cooperation with other countries is characterized by honoring commitments and upholding justice. It is not self-gain at the expense of other countries, but it nonetheless entails a firm safeguard of sovereignty, security and the right to development. In the recent trade dispute triggered by the US, China had no other choice but to take necessary countermeasures.

Personal experience tells me that in China-US relations, cooperation is the only right thing to do. Both benefit if they work with each other. That is why China has responded to the US concerns over trade with the utmost patience and sincerity, and has insisted on addressing the disputes through dialogue and consultation. By contrast, the US has frequently gone back on its word, ignored good advice of others and showed an obvious lack of sincerity for equal-footed negotiation and consultation, hence, the escalation of the situation.

Inevitably, an increasing number of industries and regions in the US are feeling the strain of the tariff measures and making their voices heard. It is absurd and against common sense to blame this on "China's interference in US domestic affairs and midterm elections". As early as the 1950s, China proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, one of which is "noninterference in other countries' internal affairs". Since then, China has all continually sought friendly ties with other countries on the basis of these principles. While the US interference has left a global trail of troubles, notably in the Middle East, China has never interfered in the internal affairs of anyone.

On the contrary, China is committed to safeguarding the common interests of mankind, promoting world peace, contributing to global development and upholding the international order, and never retracts from its pledges made to international conventions or applies a double standard. As a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of its Security Council, China has been actively engaged in the current international system by joining almost all major intergovernmental organizations and signing more than 300 international conventions.

China is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and the largest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the five permanent members of the Security Council. For 10 consecutive years, China has carried out escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, ensuring the safe passage of more than 6,000 merchant ships from various countries, including the US and the United Kingdom. With regard to the international development agenda, China has provided close to 400 billion yuan ($57.73 billion) of aid to more than 160 countries and international organizations.

China has also actively helped other developing countries to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by setting up mechanisms such as the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, the China-UK Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Climate Change Fund.

US actions, however, have been the opposite: It has willfully undermined the established rules of multilateralism and free trade, made groundless accusations against the win-win economic cooperation and trade between China and other developing countries and sought to play them off against one another, and frequently imposed sanctions on other countries by means of "long-arm jurisdiction". On top of all these, it is cherry-picking the international laws and agreements that serve US interests.

Such a double standard has damaged US international credibility even in the eyes of many European countries, including the UK.

Where light inches forward, darkness retreats. As promoters and beneficiaries of globalization, both China and the UK are against unilateralism and protectionism.

The two countries should join hands with the international community to firmly safeguard the world economic order and multilateral trade regime, uphold international justice, and urge the US to reject its zero-sum game and stop its bullying. This is the way forward to safeguard the common interests of mankind and ensure peace and prosperity in the world.

The author is Chinese ambassador to United Kingdom. The article was published by the Daily Telegraph on October 19.

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