China’s low Profile: As Close as They can

Links within the following blockquotes were added during translation / quotation — JR
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, recently asked in an article for the BBC if China’s “non-interference policy” was sustainable.

Although China’s global influence had grown during the past decades, Brown wrote,

[..] Chinese leaders still stay as close as they can to the principles of peaceful coexistence and non-interference set out by Zhou Enlai. Despite the fact that the world has changed so radically in this time, these principles are useful because they avoid China being dragged into situations that overstretch and challenge it, they avoid it being pushed into a corner where it can be painted as a foe of the US and the rest of the developed world, and they allow it to continue focusing on its own formidable internal development issues.

Indeed, China’s profile remained low in the Syrian conflict, so far, and seemed to follw Russia’s diplomatic wake rather than pursuing a globally visible role of its own (which does not necessarily mean that Beijing sees eye to eye with Moscow on each and every issue).

At the same time, not only foreigners wonder where China is when it comes to the current crisis (or its recent defusing). Domestic Chinese press does describe China’s position at times, not least to keep face-conscious readers happy, probably.

Xinhua newsagency, for example, carried an interview with China’s special Mideast envoy Wu Sike (吴思科) on September 10 this year. Excerpts:

The Syrian “chemical weapons” issue is confusing, and it hasn’t yet been possible to determine who is right and who is wrong, I have once lived in Syria for four years, and my impression of the locality was very good. Before the chaos caused of the war, it was a society of moderate prosperity [or a moderately well-off society], with many historical relics, and very friendly people. But now, according to UNHCR statistics, the number of refugees who fled abroad has surpassed two million, with one million of them children, and six million people are displaced within Syria. These aren’t just numbers; this is the suffering of homeless Syrian people who even lost loved ones. Who wants to be responsible for aggravating their crisis?

虽然叙利亚“化武”问题扑朔迷离,孰是孰非迄今尚无定论。我曾经在叙利亚生活过4年,对该地区印象很好,那里在战乱之前处于小康社会,历史遗迹很多,人民非常友好。
但是目前根据联合国难民署提供的数据,目前逃往国外的叙利亚难民已超过200万,仅儿童难民数量已超过百万,叙利亚境内还有600万人流离失 所。这些不仅仅是一个又一个的数字,而是一个个被迫流离失所甚至失去亲人的叙利亚人民的苦难。有谁能背得起加剧叙人道危机的责任?!

[…..]

Wu Sike describes his role in Mideast diplomacy:

Last year in December, I took part in a conference in Bahrain, and the participating countries all thought that the United Nations should mediate. Now, America tries to be above international situations, which is a really high-handed behavior. But the intriguing thing this time is that America’s allies, such as Italy or Germany aren’t positive [about America’s approach]. Therefore, China unequivocally advocates opposition against military methods, and advocates political means to solve the Syrian conflict. War will only complicate the situation further, intensify contradictions and clashes, and is no way to solve the problem. Therefore, political means should be used for a solution.

吴思科:去年12月份我在巴林参加会议,与会的中东各国都认为应该由联合国出面进行斡旋调解,现在美国的做法是企图让一个国家凌驾在国际组织之上,是非常霸道的表现。
但是这次耐人寻味的是,美国的盟国如意大利、德国并不积极,因此中国明确主张反对用军事的方式,应该用政治的方式,去解决叙利亚的争端。战争只会让局势更加复杂,让矛盾冲突更加剧烈,不是解决问题的方法。因此应该用政治手段解决。

[…..]

The Mideast situation is complex. When I visited Cairo, Arab-League general secretary Nabil Elaraby believed that the current problem was that the Syrian government believes that they still have strong troops to overcome its opponents. But the opposition believes that if only they persist for another day, there will be people abroad who will support them. Neither side wanted to abandon military means to protect itself, and there’s an impasse. Under such circumstances, efforts by the international community are required. The UN have now started an investigation of the chemical-weapons incident. To go to arms before the investigation’s findings are published runs counter to the purpose of the “UN Charter”. All parties should wait for and respect the findings of the investigation.

中东地区的形势错综复杂,我在开罗访问的时候,阿盟秘书长阿拉比认为现在的难点是叙利亚政府认为自 己手中还有强大的军队,能够征服他的反对者。而反对派认为只要自己坚持一天,国外就有人会支持,双方都不愿放弃军事手段来保卫自己,这是一个死结。因此, 在这种情况下,需要国际社会的努力。
目前联合国已经开始对叙利亚化武事件展开调查,在联合国调查结果公布前就诉诸武力有悖于《联合国宪章》宗旨,有关各方应期待并尊重联合国的调查结果。

====================

Two years earlier (and this should not suggest that Wu Sike never talked again, prior to September this year), Wu Sike also commented on Mideast affairs. Back then, his Mideast and Syria comments were embedded in a broader picture of Chinese diplomacy.

Public Diplomacy Net was established on May 1, 2011, with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, former chairman of the foreign aff airs committee of the “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” Zhao Qizheng, Commission for Africa member Ji Peiding and Chinese special Mideast envoy Wu Sike as the website’s advisors.

Soon after, in September 2011, Wu Sike was interviewed by the website, or responded to netizens’ questions. The main topic at the time was a white paper on China’s peaceful development, issued earlier that month on September 6, but as Middle-East special envoy, Wu was also asked questions related to the Middle-East peace process and the growing Syria conflict.

One of his answers further down in the following blockquote could count as an answer to the question at the beginning of this post, asked by Professor Brown, as to why China sticks to a low profile. The Chinese wording for “low profile” – or hiding your brightness and biding your time, depending on your translation, is 韬光养晦, is attributed to Deng Xiaoping.

Wu Sike’s answer to the first question of the interview is lengthy, and contains several paragraphs.

Main Link: http://www.pdcec.com/bencandy.php?fid=60&id=7964

Public Diplomacy Net (PDN) / Wu Sike (WSK)

PDN: Special Ambassador Wu, the information office of the state council published the “China’s Peaceful Development” white paper on September 6, please explain the main content of the white paper to our netizen friends.

公共外交网:吴特使,国务院新闻办公室于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,现在请您向网友们介绍一下白皮书的主要内容。

WSK: The white paper on “China’s Peaceful Development” has received broad attention at home and abroad. It is the declaration of China’s peaceful development, a roadmap, with absolutely important significance. It provides, for the first time, a comprehensive and systematic explanation of China’s path of peaceful development, the strategy and foreign policies of China’s peaceful development. It states Chinese path of peaceful development, the goals of peaceful development, and actively responds to the questions about how China wants to apply its strength and foreign relations and similar issues.

吴思科:国务院新闻办于9月6日发表了《中国的和平发展》白皮书,引起国内外广泛关注。白皮书是中国和平发展的宣言书、路线图,有着十分重要的意义。白皮书首次对中国和平发展道路、和平发展战略和对外大政方针做了全面系统的阐释,表明了中国的发展道路、发展目标,并积极回应力国际社会关切的中国如何运用实力以及与外部世界的关系等问题。

The white paper explains China’s development path, and strategic direction still more comprehensively, systematically and clearly to the world. Peaceful development has become China’s national will. The white paper officially defines the conceptof “core interests“, it points out that China will resolutely protect its core national interests, including the country’s sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, national unity, China’s political system and general social stability as established by the constitution, the basic guarantees for sustained economic and social development.

白皮书向世界更加全面、系统、清晰地阐明中国的发展道路和战略走向。和平发展已经上升为中国的国家意志,白皮书正式界定了“核心利益”的概念,指出中国坚决维护国家核心利益,包括:国家主权,国家安全,领土完整,国家统一,中国宪法确立的国家政治制度和社会大局稳定,经济社会可持续发展的基本保障。

The white paper explains how the big country with its 1.3 billion people develops on the path of socialism, sums up its content and its characteristics, especially emphasizes that peaceful development is socialism with Chinese characteristics’ essential content, raises peaceful development to the rank of national will, turns it into the overall national development plan and fundamental policy, and implements domestic and external practice.

白皮书,阐述了这个有13亿人口的走社会主义道路的大国如何发展,这次把内涵及其特点进行归纳,特别是强调和平发展是中国特色社会主义道路的本质内容,把和平发展上升到国家意志,转化为国家的整体发展规划和大政方针,并且落实到对内和对外的广泛实践中。

China is a responsible big country, the white paper uses the “promote and build a harmonious world, maintain the standing-of-one’s-own-and-peace foreign polciies, advocates the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality [of states, apparently] and cooperation, an international concept of active international responsibility, pursuing good-neighborly regional cooperation concepts”, thus summarizing China’s peaceful-development foreign policy.  Among these, Active international responsibility has appeared in a public official document for the first time. Cooperation on environmental issues is discussed as an organic part of a harmonious world.

中国是负责任的大国,白皮书用“推动建设和谐世界,坚持独立自主和平外交政策,倡导互信、互利、平等、协作的新安全观,秉持积极有为的国际责任观,奉行睦邻友好的地区合作观”概括了中国和平发展的外交政策。其中,积极有为的国际责任观是首次出现在政府公开文件中;把环保合作作为和谐世界的有机组成部分进行论述。

Peaceful development is the national will. Therefore, as Chinese citizens, we need the concept of peaceful development to be reflected in our practical work. Also, we need to let the world understand the firm idea of China’s peaceful development.

和平发展是国家意志。因此,作为中国公民需要把和平发展的理念体现在我们的现实工作当中。另外,我们还需要让世界了解中国和平发展的坚定理念。

After studying the white paper, I felt that there needs to be a deepened understanding from two aspects:

研读了白皮书以后,我感觉要从两个方面加深认识:

One is that peaceful development is the call of our times. We can see from the world’s historical development that [a country’s?] strength leads to hegemony [or tyranny], and when a great power rose, it always replaced another great power by force, making both of them suffer. History has developed to a new era, and this road should be taken. In these times of globalization and rapid technological development, we should build a harmonious world with the methods of win-win. This is the requirement of global development and a certainty of historical development.

一是和平发展是当今时代的呼唤。从世界历史的发展过程中来看,国强必霸,历史上大国崛起,都是通过武力取代另一个大国,最后总是两败俱伤。历史发展到一个新的时期,这条路不应该走下去了。在当今经济全球化和科技高速发展的时代,应该通过合作实现共赢的方式共建一个和谐世界,这是世界发展的需要,也是历史发展的必然。

The second [aspect] is the fulffillment of “peace” as China’s concept with its great and far-reaching significance, as seen from China’s traditional culture. From ancient times, China’s philosophy has been about the “unity of nature and humanity”, that national characteristics [or identity] “values peace”, that there is diversity in harmony, about exploring inclusiveness, about open-mindedness, good-neighborliness and friendliness – this is the guiding spirit of China’s exchange with the outside world.

二是践行“和”之中国理念意义重大而深远。从中国的传统文化来讲。中国自古以来的哲学就是天人合一,民族特性都是“以和为贵”,和而不同,讲究包容性,有开放的心态,讲求睦邻友善,这是中国对外交流的指导精神。

[This para is an incomplete translation] The Silk Road which opened more than two-thousand years ago, has enriched our culture and development through trade and cultural interaction, agriculture and our species. It has made lives richer.

中国2000多年之前就有通向西域的丝绸之路,通过贸易和文化的互通有无带动中国的对外交流,也促进了我们中华文明的发展,农业发展上来说也丰富了我们的物种,使生活更加丰富。

More than six-hundred years ago, China’s famous navigator Zheng He took his seven voyages to the Western seas, to western Asia, eastern Africa, to thirty countries and regions. It was a big fleet, but they didn’t carry armed force. They carried concepts of friendship and peace. They promoted bilateral exchanges, and bequeathed us a much-told tale. Historically, China maintained an ideology that valued peace.

600多年前,中国著名航海家郑和七下西洋,到了西亚、非洲东部的30个国家和地区。船队阵容强大,但是他们没有带去武力,带去的是友谊、和平的理念,促进双方的交往,留下了历史的佳话。在历史上,中国就是坚持以和为贵的指导思想。

After the establishment of New China, we first issued the five principles of peaceful coexistence. This is both a fundamental policy in Chinese diplomacy and a manifestation of traditional Chinese civilization: mutual respect, no interference into each other’s internal affairs, etc.. After that, through our continuous development and changes, we have continuously enriched the five principles on their [own] foundation. In economic exchange, China maintains equality and mutual benefit and cooperational win-win. In terms of security concepts, mutual trust, hand-in-hand cooperation, it’s facing the traditional and non-traditional global security threats.  Another advocacy is a kind of green development concept, humankind’s common care for the earth, and environment protection.

新中国成立以后,我们最早提出和平共处五项基本原则。这既是中国外交的基本政策,也是中国传统文明的体现,互相尊重、互不干涉内政等。此后,随着我们不断的发展变化,在和平共处五项原则上不断地丰富其内容。在对外经济交往方面中国坚持的是平等互利、合作共赢的方针;在安全观方面,相互信任、携手合作、共同应对世界面临的传统和非传统的安全威胁。另外主张一种绿色发展观,人类共同呵护地球家园,共同保护环境。

PDN: This interview has attracted many netizens’ attention, many have asked questions, and in the following, we would like to ask special envoy Wu Sike for some answers.

公共外交网:本次访谈得到众多网友的关注,网友们提出了一些问题,下面就网友关心的话题请吴特使给予解答。

WSK: Fine.

吴思科:好的。

PDN: A netizen asks, which role is China playing in the Middle-East peace process?

公共外交网:有网友问,您认为中国在中东的和平进程问题中起到了怎样的作用?

WSK: The hot spot of the Middle East is a global concern. China’s regional peace and stability is also closely interrelated with global peace and stability. Therefore, China has always paid attention to the Mid-East situation, and has made unremitting efforts for Mid-Eastern peace.

吴思科:中东的热点问题是举世关注的,中国地区的和平稳定也是与世界的和平稳定密切相关,因此中国始终关注中东地区的形势,为推动中东和平进程作出不懈的努力。

PDN: What is the base line of “peaceful development”?

公共外交网:请问“和平发展”的底线是什么?

WSK: China’s peaceful development is our national policy. We will unservingly take the path of peaceful development, and also, the “white paper” has clearly defined China’s core national interests, which won’t waver in the least, either. Only when there is respect for the other side’s core interests, peace can be effectively protected, and sustainable development be put into place.

吴思科:中国的和平发展是我们的国策,我们会坚定不移地走和平发展之路,同时这个“白皮书”也明确界定了中国国家的核心利益,这也是不容丝毫动摇的,只有相互尊重对方的核心利益才能够有效维护和平,实现可持续发展。

[…]

PDN: What is your understanding of “hide your brightness, bide your time“?

公共外交网:您如何理解中国的“韬光养晦”?

WSK: To keep a low profile and to actively make a difference is an important principle of China’s diplomacy. To keep a low profile is no makeshift measure. China needs to achieve comprehensive rejuvenation, to make efforts for another long period, and in this process, we always need to be modest and prudent, learn others’ strengths, and while developing economically, we need to change the ways of development, achieve scientific development, and even if Chjna has developed strongly, we must maintain peaceful policies. That’s in the fundamental interest of the Chinese people, and in line with the interests of the peoples of the world.

吴 思科:坚持韬光养晦,积极有所作为,这是中国外交的一条重要原则,韬光养晦不是权宜之计,中国要实现全面复兴,还需要经历一个很长时间的努力,在这个过程 中我们始终需要谦虚谨慎,学习别人的长处,在经济发展的同时还需要转变发展方式,实现科学发展,即使中国发展强大了,也必须继续坚持和平的方针。这是中国 人民的根本利益所在,也符合世界人民的共同利益。

PDN: How does China pursue win-win in cooperation?

公共外交网:中国如何寻求合作共赢呢?

WSK: China has always adhered to the policy of cooperational win-win, and has explored this new method of cooperation. Cooperational win-win has created favorable conditions for our country’s economic development, and has also made a contribution to global economic development. As for myself, I have been involved in promoting Chinese cooperation with Arab and African countries, achieving cooperational win-win projects which are too many to enumerate. These projects have been mutually beneficial, this is cooperation needed by both sides, and they have ample prospects.

吴 思科:中国在对外合作方面一直遵循合作共赢的方针,并不断探索扩大这种合作的新的方式,这种合作共赢、共同发展的合作理念为我国的经济发展创造了有利的条 件,同时也为世界经济的发展做出了贡献。我本人就曾经参与推动中国和阿拉伯国家、非洲国家的合作,实现合作共赢的合作项目不胜枚举,这些项目都为双方带来 的共同利益,。这种合作是双方的共同需要,也有着广阔的前景。

PDN: What, in your view, are the main points about the China’s peaceful development “white paper”?

公共外交网:您认为本次发表的《中国的和平发展》白皮书中,最大的亮点是什么?

WSK: I think they are the clear definition of China’s core interests, at the same time explaining the six big characteristics of China’s peaceful development, which are scientific development, development standing on one’s own, opening up development, peaceful development, cooperation development, and common development. You could say that this is a high degree of summarization with strong guiding significance for what fits our national situation in the sixty years since the establishment of New China, and especially for the more than thirty years of reform and opening up.

吴 思科:我认为最大的亮点是明确界定了中国的核心利益;同时阐述了中国和平发展的六大特征,就是科学发展、自主发展、开放发展、和平发展、合作发展、共同发 展。可以说这是对新中国成立60年特别是改革开放30多年来我国探索适合自己国情发展道路实践的高度总结,有很强的指导意义。

PDN: As the Middle-East envoy, how do you see the current situation in the Middle East?

公共外交网:您作为中国中东问题特使,如何看当下的中东局势?

WSK: The Middle East is experiencing the biggest upheaval and change since more than half a century, with far-reaching effects to the region. In a situation of international change, big developments, and major adjustments, people there are seeking change, seeking development, improvement for the peoples’ livelihoods, and these are absolutely reasonable demands. We hope that some countries in the region can achieve peaceful change, find their own ways of development that fit into the new situation, soon achieve stability, with the fulfillment of the peoples’ demands. We also hope that in the Mideast hotspots, issues can be solved through negotiations, and peacefully, which is in the interest of all countries and peoples in the region, and also beneficial for global causes of peace and stability and development.

吴 思科:当前中东正经历近半个世纪以来最大的政治动荡和变革,对该地区正在产生深远的影响。在国际形势大变化、大发展,国际格局大调整的情况下,该地区的人 民求变革、求发展、求改善民生,这是完全合理的诉求。我们希望该地区的一些国家能够实现和平的变革,找到新形势下适合各自发展的方式,早日实现稳定,使人 民的诉求能够得以实现。同时也希望中东地区的热点问题能够通过谈判的方式实现和平解决,这既是该地区各个国家和人民的利益所在,也有利于世界的和平稳定和 发展事业。

[The following two questions and answers discuss the way China is seen from outside, the “China threat talk” (所谓中国威胁论), “cold war mentality”, hopes and fears about China’s development, etc, and China’s role in peacekeeping missions.]

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