Date: 03-20-12 22:55
China's diplomacy needs courage and strategy
By Ding Gang (People's Daily Overseas Edition)
11:00, March 14, 2012
Edited and translated by People's Daily Online
China's diplomacy is very active recently to explore the solution to the Syria issue. After Ambassador Li Huaxin, representative of the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, visited Syria, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming began to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. Some foreign media named China’s move as “turning from the defensive to the offensive”.
Using "offensive" and "defensive" to describe Chinese diplomacy means that what they see are just changes in trend. The more important possibility is China does not only unswervingly safeguard the basic principle of political solutions to similar problems she adheres to, but is trying to find a roadmap of solving similar problems through political approach.
The world situation today is changing dramatically, but paths to solve problems similar to the Syria’s have not changed much. The solution roadmaps are more dominated by the West, who always adopts the old routine of military or economic sanctions. Facts have proved that such routines will not only hurt civilians seriously but also leave the bad results of long-term turmoil and even secession.
Doesn't the West realize that these routines have seen the end of their rope? Of course no. in fact, the ability to maintain the old routines is directly related to the dominant position of the West in the existing international order. This is why some western countries become more and more impatient and more and more reckless on the sanction issues.
China's adhering to her position of peaceful settlement and efforts of seeking for a method to have all sides involved into a conflict sit down at a negotiating table is to conform to the general trend.
Today's China enjoys a very different position in the world stage than before, which is irreversible. Many difficult issues exist in the world. China must take a stand explicitly and even participate in solving these issues actively, even if they have no direct relations with China. This is the world’s expectations to China and also the responsibility of China as a big power.
Diplomacy is a chess game. Skillful players can anticipate many steps. If the opponent predicts two moves and you can do three, four or even five, then you outsmart your rival and have a higher chance of success. However, the game is subject to changes and tricks, so predicting requires stratagem, courage and insight.
We must be equal to the crisis when it occurs, and more importantly, we should go further to equip ourselves with strategies of being brave and skilled in mobilizing the overall situation. Some problems in the world do not evolve unpredictably. If we move earlier, we can guide the development of the situation. Passive defense or counterattacks are not always accompanied by narrow survival. But early moves sometimes do have the potential to change the whole game.
It is good that China wants to rely on peaceful solutions to resolve the problems of the world. But it is naive to expect that solutions can always be found peacefully to problems that are zero sum equations. If there is a piece of cake and both of us want it then it is impossible to solve. Economically, it is possible for people to cooperate to make more cakes so to speak. But territorially or racially or religiously, there is simply no possible solutions. Also there is oftentimes so much historical hatred built up that nobody trusts anybody else. Therefore, given such circumstances those who would want to provide solutions must be able to guarantee peace and equal share to both sides. For example, the Israel-Palestine problem is intractable because both sides claim it is their homeland. Nobody will accept dividing it into two parts nor will they accept living together with equal rights to the peoples of both races. Therefore, any outside country that wants to negotiate a peace must get both sides to accept sharing by guaranteeing equal rights to both. China can guarantee such conditions only if it is strong both economically and militarily in addition to being fair and impartial. Therefore, it is not enough for China to simply talk about peace but must also be mature enough to understand the need of force. If China simply talk about peace then nobody will trust it, looking at it like an idiot child with no knowledge of the world. China should also not be too quick to dismiss the predilection to resort to force by the West because it is oftentimes the only solution. Of course, the use of force by the West is often unjustified because they don't intend to create peace but only gain advantages for themselves.
In the case of Libya there are different factions inside that country. Those who wanted to overthrow Kadaffi talked about democracy. But in the end these rebels don't care about democracy but only wanted to take over the dictatorial power of Kadaffi for themselves. Therefore, America simply choose the rebels because it is not getting the compliance from Kadaffi and hopes to get it from the rebels. So America helped the rebels to overthrow Kadaffi in the hope of getting more concessions from the rebels after they dominate the Libyan government. Once America controls the new Libyan government then it will instigate attacks against China to keep China out of Libya. This is why it was the wrong policy for China to simply allow the two sides in Libya to fight it out and then maintain good relations with whoever became the new government. Inevitably the new government will bow to the wishes of America who helped it and attack China. This is why China cannot solve any problem with diplomacy alone but must combine diplomacy with economics and military which puts it in line with why the West is resorting to economic and military sanctions all the time. The difference between China and the West is to use diplomacy and economic and military force to maintain peace instead of gaining more advantages for themselves. That is, the difference is in the goal and not in the means. The goal is peace but the means is still the judicious use of power to compel compliance.
In the end, China has to stop talking peace all the time and grow up and understand that the world is not all about peace but about projection of power in terms of economics and military. Peace is noble and humanitarian. But peace must be guaranteed by economics and military power. If Chinese leaders cannot understand this then they are naive and have no place to lead the world. Just stop and think why there are policemen in every country even in China. Obviously it is because criminals will not be deterred by talks of peace and harmony. And the only way to stop them is to have the police arrest them and put them in jail.
And what is even more critical to China is the problems it is having with many countries now invading and occupying its sovereign territories from the Diaoyu Islands in the E. China Sea to the Xisha and Nansha Islands in the S. China Sea to the Zhangnan in the Southwest. Chinese leaders have glaringly failed to convince the invaders to respect China’s sovereignty by asking them to “share the joint development” of these areas. Of course, nobody will willingly give up the territories they are occupying unless China shows any kind of resolve to use force. And the more China talked about joint development and promises that it will not use force the more these invaders will happily continue to occupy Chinese sovereign territories and move in hundreds to millions of their citizens to consolidate their claim of sovereignty. And after decades the problem will simply disappear as China gives up pursuing its sovereignty claim and China would have lost more of its territories continuing the shameful habit of the Qing Dynasty of giving up territories for “peace”.
The Chinese leaders and self-styled intellectuals should not be so arrogant to think they know better because they put peace above all else. Such arrogance is nothing new. In fact it has been the custom of Chinese scholars for thousands of years to tell past Chinese governments to think about the welfare of the people and eschew the use of force. And always China had been conquered and its people subjected to even more heinous shame and degradation and suffering at the heels of the invaders. Therefore, if the Chinese are truly courageous and wise then they must learn to use diplomacy backed up by the projection of economic and military force to compel aggressors to desist. Peace without force is unattainable; force without peace is aggressive.