A promised land of hope and prosperity

Updated: 2013-10-06 23:02

By Shen Dingli (China Daily)

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Increasingly, the Asia-Pacific has become a focal point for the world economy and international politics. In terms of global economic output, this area generates half of the world's wealth, so no one can afford to ignore the opportunities. The broadly defined Asia-Pacific has consisted of the top three economies in the world and three out of five BRICS nations. The rising Asia-Pacific promises to be a land of hope and co-prosperity.

The shift in the center of the world economy from the transatlantic to the transpacific region conforms with Asia's economic rise, principally due to globalization, allowing freer flow of capital, technology and management skills. Global outsourcing brings markets together and rebalances the world economy, eventually transforming the international structure in a peaceful manner.

China has caught up with globalization through international cooperation. Beijing is both a major beneficiary of globalization and a main contributor to the peaceful evolution of a looming new world order. However, while the United States has contributed to China's peaceful rise, it has also, out of interest in maintaining its paramount status in the world, been watching China's rise with concern.

Some of these concerns make sense, since the US has shaped so much of the status quo of the world, which stresses stability, albeit a sort of Pax Americana, benefiting nearly all parties. It is predictable that a status quo power would wish to preserve the existing balance of power and have concerns about the rising power. Given this, China needs to present its genuine intention, in a crystal clear way, that it does not want to supplant the US's leadership. The two countries have a great deal to clarify regarding their respective suspicions on strategic issues, especially in areas of common global concern such as air, outer space, maritime issues and cyberspace.

Not all US concerns are legitimate. The US has invented the United Nations, aspiring to attain peace through global governance, often by respecting the sovereignty of members of the world community. However, the US has challenged China's sovereignty for decades by intervening in Beijing's home affairs. The US worries about the implications of the rise of the Chinese mainland as it relates to its ability to reunify with Taiwan. Nevertheless, this is not a legitimate interest of the US, and China shall not be responsible for US concerns over the matter, simply because of Beijing's rise.

China and the US could opt for a more proactive approach, viewing each side's interaction with the region in a more positive light. The TPP could push China to deepen its economic reform. The US could ponder its response to Sino-Japanese tension over the Diaoyu Islands. Instead of supporting Japan by citing a treaty obligation, which only fuels tensions, the US could help ease the situation by presenting constructive reconciliation.

The author is professor and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.