The Chinese Dream and peaceful development
Jusuf Wanandi, vice-chairman of the board of trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Foundation
The results of the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China are reform oriented and a response to the challenges China is facing in attaining its dream of a better future. China’s dream has a utilitarian goal, which is to be a strong and wealthy country. The reforms adopted at the plenum will make headway toward realizing this dream, and the country is aware that these reforms will reap external reactions. However, it expects these reactions will be more positive than negative. China agreed with the United States they would strive for a new type of big-power relationship, one based on mutual respect, no intervening in each other’s domestic issues, and cooperation based on the principle of win-win. This consensus will hopefully reduce the tensions and prevent any misunderstandings between the two powers.
China has recognized the need for it to rise and develop peacefully and create a community of common interests with other countries.
But China’s relations with some of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a grouping of what are considered its closest neighbors, are defined by problems arising from territorial disputes in the South China Sea. How China seeks to create common interests with ASEAN in the South China Sea is critical, and that is why there is now a consensus on the need for confidence building measures.
But the most pressing issue in the region at present is the overlapping claims by China and Japan to the group of islands that China calls the Diaoyu Islands and Japan the Senkaku Islands. This complicated issue is a legacy of World War II, which is why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s revisionist statements on World War II and its impact have been unhelpful. The United States’ defense treaty with Japan has also not been conducive to it playing a constructive role in the dispute. What other countries in the region must do is advise caution and restraint by both sides, because so much is at stake for East Asia’s stability and development if tensions flare up. Direct contact between China and Japan needs to be immediately established and they should create a mechanism to prevent any misunderstandings, especially between their militaries.