Ever since its birth in 1949, the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China has won over many ad­mir­ers as it has steered its peo­ple from a sleepy nation into a vi­brant and dy­namic global pres­ence.

Southasia - - Cover story - By S.M. Hali

China’s en­gage­ment is nec­es­sary for main­tain­ing peace across the globe.

The twenty first cen­tury is the cen­tury of Asia while China, an es­tab­lished Asian leader and on its way to be­com­ing a world leader, rules the roost. China’s progress and quan­tum leaps to­wards mod­ern­iza­tion are a marvel to ob­serve but a source of concern for its de­trac­tors in the west. The driv­ing force be­hind China’s dra­matic rise is the pru­dent plan­ning of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC), founded on July 1, 1921 in Shang­hai. Af­ter 28 years of strug­gle, the CPC fi­nally at­tained vic­tory un­der its “new demo­cratic revo­lu­tion” and founded the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949. The CPC, the rul­ing party of main­land China, is founded mainly on ide­ol­ogy and pol­i­tics and de­rives its ideas and poli­cies from the peo­ple’s con­cen­trated will and then turns that will into State laws and de­ci­sions which are passed by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress of China through the State’s legal proce- dures. In the nearly 90 years since its in­cep­tion, the party has won over many ad­mir­ers as well as de­trac­tors over the world. How­ever, its suc­cess lies in the fact that it has steered the peo­ple of China from a sleepy nation, once la­beled as “Opium eaters” into a vi­brant and dy­namic nation, rear­ing to take its right­ful place in the comity of na­tions.

Pru­dent plan­ning and as­tute prepa­ra­tions have been the con­tribut­ing fac­tors to China’s suc­cess. Since the mid-1990s, China be­gan to ac­cel- er­ate its in­te­gra­tion with the world econ­omy, thus ex­pos­ing it­self to the im­pact of the chang­ing in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. It has with­stood at least two ma­jor ex­ter­nal im­pacts: One was the 1997-98 Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis and the other was the 200809 in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cri­sis. The for­mer crip­pled China’s ex­port growth to 0.5 per­cent and for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) growth to 0.4 per­cent in 1998. The lat­ter re­sulted in a neg­a­tive growth rate for China’s ex­port sec­tor for the first time in the nation’s his­tory. It also caused a drop in FDI. But the 2008-09 fi­nan­cial cri­sis was global, rock­ing China and the whole of Asia. Yet, as seen from the in­ter­nal sys­tem, the af­ter­math looked much bet­ter than 10 years ago and has pro­vided fa­vor­able con­di­tions for re­sist­ing ex­ter­nal im­pacts. The re­sis­tance to ex­ter­nal fac­tors is the re­sult of ma­jor achieve­ments in China’s re­form and open­ing up over the past

three decades. Sound po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship com­bined with the con­ti­nu­ity of thought process is the ma­jor fac­tor be­hind this quan­tum leap by China in the last three decades.

A strik­ing fea­ture of China’s ap­proach to­wards the rest of the world has been its reach­ing out to other coun­tries. The Oc­ci­dent con­strues it as fish­ing in trou­bled waters, but let us ex­am­ine the case of its re­la­tions with three coun­tries, Iran, Korea and Pak­istan. Iran is con­sid­ered as an in­ter­na­tional pariah, be­cause it re­fuses to give up its pur­suit of nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity, which is aimed at peace­ful pur­poses but the U.S. and the west in­sist that Iran is pur­su­ing a nu­clear weapons pro­gram. This smacks of dou­ble stan­dards, since the U.S. is well aware of Is­rael’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram while In­dia is a de­clared nu­clear weapons-equipped state. How­ever, in­stead of sanc­tion­ing them, the U.S. has strate­gic ties with them pro­vid­ing them as­sis­tance and sup­port. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gan­der and Iran, a sig­na­tory to the NPT, should have been per­mit­ted to pur­sue its peace­ful goals of ac­quir­ing nu­clear en­ergy, in­stead UN sanc­tions were im­posed on it. China has gone along with the sanc­tions but main­tains its eco­nomic re­la­tions with Iran, much to the cha­grin of the west. The pos­si­ble rea­son may not be dou­ble stan­dards but a gen­uine sym­pa­thy for Iran’s predica­ment as well as busi­ness con­sid­er­a­tions.

Now a brief look at the re­la­tions be­tween North Korea and China. One of the big­gest bene­fac­tors in trade, com­merce, sup­ply of es­sen­tial food, arms and fuel has been China. In re­cent years there has been grow­ing concern in China over North Korea’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram, their al­leged sink­ing of the ROKS Cheo­nan and their bom­bard­ment of Yeon­pyeong. Af­ter North Korea con­ducted its first nu­clear test in 2006, the Chinese gov­ern­ment stated that they were “res­o­lutely op­posed to it” and voted for United Na­tions sanc­tions on North Korea. In Novem­ber 2010, The Guardian pub­lished de­tails of Chinese com­mu­ni­ca­tions to the United States in which North Korea was re­ferred to as a “spoiled child” and their nu­clear pro­gram as “a threat to the whole world’s se­cu­rity.” Such ev­i­dence does not merit the la­bel of dual stan­dards in South Korea-China re­la­tions.

As far as Pak­istan-China re­la­tions are con­cerned, they have been de­scribed in po­etic su­perla­tives but it is a fact that their ties are time-tested. China has proved to be more than an ally for Pak­istan, hav­ing stood by it when the world im­posed sanc­tions and vir­tu­ally iso­lated Pak­istan or when nat­u­ral calami­ties struck the coun­try. The U.S. has en­tered into an agree­ment with Pak­istan’s arch ri­val In­dia for pro­vid­ing it civil nu­clear en­ergy but has de­nied the same fa­cil­ity to Pak­istan de­spite it be­ing a front­line ally of the U.S. in the war against ter­ror. Here again China stepped in and un­der IAEA safe­guards, of­fered two nu­clear plants to Pak­istan in its pur­suit of civil nu­clear en­ergy. Ini­tially the U.S. op­posed the deal tooth and nail but has now ac­qui­esced.

China is a ma­jor bene­fac­tor for the U.S. too. Al­though the U.S. is wary of China’s eco­nomic growth, yet the PRC and the United States are ma­jor trade part­ners and have com­mon in­ter­ests in the preven­tion and sup­pres­sion of terrorism and nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion. China and the U.S. are the largest mu­tual trad­ing part­ners, ex­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union. China is also the largest for­eign cred­i­tor for the United States. It would be ad­vis­able for the Amer­ica to drop its ef­forts to prop up In­dia as a bul­wark to China and in­sti­gat­ing Ja­pan, Tai­wan and South Korea into form­ing an al­liance against China and in­stead turn China’s strength into its own power po­ten­tial to bring peace and tran­quil­ity into the world. Group Cap­tain (r) Sul­tan M. Hali, now a prac­tis­ing jour­nal­ist, has con­trib­uted over 2000 ar­ti­cles, pro­duced 125 doc­u­men­taries and hosts a TV talk show. He is cur­rently based in Islamabad.

Fos­ter­ing stronger ties with China is im­per­a­tive for the U.S. to main­tain

peace across the globe.

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