The Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) organised an exchange programme for the representatives of South Asian non-government organizations involved in foreign policy affairs under the theme of 'Knowing China, Deepening Mutual Understanding' recently. The representatives from Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh participated in the nine-day programme in which participants discussed on numerous topics including foreign policy, economy and ethnicity. Chinese representatives presented papers on different issues including Tibet and ethnic autonomy, Chinese economy, Chinese foreign policy while South Asian experts spoke on different relevant topics. Here is a paper presented by Prem Kumari Pant, president of Nepal China Society during the discussion programme:
It is indeed a matter of profound pleasure for me to participate in the seminar entitled ' Knowning China'. I, therefore, express my sincere appreciation to the Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament for inviting me to this important and wonderful program and share knowledge and experiences with you.
The very subject ' Knowning China' appealed to me more than anything else. We all know that China is the cradle of ancient civilization. Many of the world's innovative ideas have their roots in China. China's culture is one of the oldest and richest in the world. Knowing China is, therefore, like discovering the world.
Among the most unique dimensions of China is, of course, her long history of 5,000 years that has created a truly splendid civilization built upon a unified multi-ethnic state. Notably through many millennia, China was never obliged to deal with other countries that were comparable to it in terms of sophistication.
The territorial claims of the Chinese Empire stopped at the water&rsquos edge. As early as the Song Dynasty (960-1279), China led the world in nautical technology. Yet China acquired no overseas colonies and showed relatively little interest in the countries beyond its coast.
It more often believed that the most valuable possessions and intellectual achievements were to be found within China.
The impacts of Confucianism on Chinese culture, which, in essence, were secular in nature. In fact, the traditional Chinese world view was essentially pragmatic and secular and its ideals were to be fulfilled in this life .The doctrines are generally appreciated according to their practical applicability and socio- political effectiveness rather than for their metaphysical order.
Confucius&rsquos answer to the chaos of his era as the &lsquoWay&rsquo of the just and harmonious society which, he taught, had been realized before &ndash in a distant Chinese golden age. Learning was the key to advancement. The Confucian order offered inspiration of service in the pursuit of greater harmony. Oriented towards this world, his thinking affirmed a social code of conduct, not a road map to the afterlife.
To understand China more fully, it is also important to note that while the concept of sovereignty and the legal equality of states became the basis of international law and diplomacy.
The danger of national subjugation caused one generation of Chinese patriots to take the path of reform to save the nation, paving the way, first, for the Revolution of 1911 and to the founding and rise of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which led to China&rsquos true independence and liberation, beginning on 1st October 1949.
In modern times, some rising powers established colonies, fought for spheres of influence, and conducted military expansion as was not only made painfully manifest in China in the 20th century, but, as we know, when rivalry for hegemony and military confrontation plunged mankind into the abyss of two devastating world wars. China&rsquos policy of peaceful development rejects such unjust and outmoded concepts, and should be understood by all.
Furthermore, as much is amply borne out by China&rsquos enlightened policy of outreach to both the developing as well as developed world, in the context of her peaceful development policy. What needs to be underlined is that China has very realistically taken into account that, as national conditions vary from country to country, there is no such thing as a fixed mode of development which claims to be the only effective one and applicable to all.
Such a pragmatic, non-doctrinaire approach not only stands out in refreshing contrast to policies followed by many countries, including those that imposed their will on others in the not-too-distant-past, but is also in total conformity to the now universally-accepted dictum that a path of development is only viable when it suits the national conditions of a country.
Most progressive, also, is her belief, as per the rubric of peaceful development that China cannot develop itself in isolation from the rest of the world, and global prosperity and stability cannot be maintained without China.
In fact, China welcomes all friendly suggestions and well-intentioned criticism. Of course, it is only befitting a great nation and a grand civilization that she entertains the hope that the international community will have a deeper appreciation of China&rsquos time-honoured cultural traditions, and respect its sovereignty, territorial integrity and social stability, which the Chinese people hold dear.
There is much to be learned and discovered about China. China's civilization history and ethnic and cultural diversity and affirmative journey to modernization are subject of interest for the entire world. A mosaic of different ethnicities and a land of cultural diversity, China is a true example of social, religious and cultural harmony and co-existence. At a time when conflicts of different forms and manifestations as well as civil wars have ravaged the world, China's ethnic, cultural and social harmony and unity in diversity are a true example of peaceful co-existence. All countries in the world advocate peace and peaceful co-existence but these noble ideas have remained mere ideals rather than reality. However, the case of China is different and Beijing has incorporated these virtues both in its policies and practice.
Now China is in the process of rebuilding and modernizing itself. In the last 33 years since the introduction of reforms and opening up, China has seen a tremendous progress in economic growth, modernization and development, which has been a new model of development for the entire world. China's development model can be a lesson for the world because this is a participatory and people-focused approach in which the real beneficiaries are the people mostly living in the lower strata of the society.
The year 1978 marked a turning point in the history of China. China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping rose to power and introduced radical reforms in China which yielded positive results. Deng, the architect of modern China, totally transformed China from an impoverished country to a global economic power. Other leaders like Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao gave continuity to Deng's visionary reforms with more vigor and enthusiasm. We can see China steadily marching forward on the path of development. Started from a few coastal areas, the reforms have now reached the hinterland bringing about visible change to the life of the poor. The way China has been able to lift the poor people in the rural hinterland, Beijing's role and efforts in poverty alleviation have been praised by the World Bank. As a close neighbour, Nepal and Nepalese people are proud of China's rise and development. The peaceful rise is not only in the interest of China, but of the world as well.
China is an ancient civilization. In the past 62 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China and more particularly for the last 33 years since the reforms were introduced, China has entered into a new era of socialist modernization which is China's unique and original approach of development. During these tumultuous years, China suffered and experienced both successes and setbacks. But China continued to march ahead with firmness and determination overcoming the difficulties and hurdles and obstacles that came across along its path. Based on the lessons learnt from history, China advanced on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics drawing valuable experiences from its mistakes and setbacks. Focus of its development at home is the people while constructive cooperation is the hallmark of China's relationship with other countries including its immediate neighbours like Nepal.
Peaceful rise and development are both its choice and compulsion. It is a choice because China always believed in peace and peaceful transformation. The history is witness that China never resorted to any kind of muscle flexing and coercion but chose the path of peace and popular participation. What China has taught the world that development should be homegrown, Any kind of imposition and borrowing from outside does not ensure sustainable development-be it political or economic model. The engine for development is the people, which China has truly applied. The external support can only be complimentary to the efforts of people in their development.
China is always willing to extend meaningful contribution to the development of the developing countries and build a peaceful, harmonious and just world. Peaceful and cooperative relations with friendly countries is China's long-cherished foreign policy on the basis of which China seeks to establish and develop cooperative relationship with different countries in the world. I am impressed by China's foreign policy and international approach of collectiveness to tackle the global challenges and crisis. Respect to other's sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-aggression and peace are the cardinal principles of China's foreign policy and these values have been translated into practice in all bilateral, regional and international forums.
Chinese society believes in Confucian and Buddhist philosophies which seek to promote peace and cooperation both at home and abroad. Chinese people love peace and they are peaceful. Suffered from series of external invasions and civil wars accompanied by poverty, hunger and famine, Chinese people know the value of peace more than any other country and people in the world. China's experiences have proved that peace, stability and social and ethnic harmony are prerequisite for development. That in the absence of peace, prosperity would be a mirage. Peace alone allows the people to live and work for prosperity. Apart from creating environment conducive for peace and stability at home, the central theme of China's diplomacy is to create peaceful and stable world. China has always refrained from any kind of hawkish and hegemonic attitude in the international arena more particularly in its neighborhood. The cooperative and persuasive diplomacy which China has followed have yielded positive results in the international arena and earned honor and respect from the international community. Unlike some Western countries and also some in our neighborhood which often apply coercive diplomacy to bring smaller and weaker countries into their domain of influence, China has refrained from doing so. Instead, it has developed soft power image in the world which aims at building 'win win cooperation'. With the pursuit of peaceful development and cooperative approach in international diplomacy, China has earned greater degree of reputation in the international arena. This is a matter of pride not only for China but also for developing countries more particularly the small neighbours like Nepal.
Building socialist democracy is the entire purpose of China. This gradual but determined process for humanizing, socializing and democratizing Chinese society under the banner of Communist Party of China has served as an alternative but successful political model. Although China does not consider its political and economic version as a model, many developing countries are taking it as a successful and more pragmatic approach for sustainable development and world peace. Democratic election, people's access to decision-making process, participation of people in governance and rule of law are some of the cardinal values of modern day democracy, which China has guaranteed at home. The other aspect that China has accorded greater priority is the right to life, which is the most fundamental human right of the people. In order to ensure greater degree of democracy, free choice and freedom, China has adopted a unique policy of ' one country two systems'. This has worked well and kept its people happy.
On the foreign policy front, China's mature and wise decision and approaches have earned appreciation in the international arena. China promotes friendly relationship with all countries in the world on the basis of Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. When it comes to the relationship with the neighbours, China has accorded special priority. Good neighborliness is the basis for relationship with its neighbours. China treats its neighbours as partners and it accordingly assists for their development. China's foreign policy has, thus, a much wider and greater focus on greater economic prosperity, investment and trade with other countries. This has had a great deal of China's leverage in international area, thanks largely to its mature diplomacy and soft power image.
China is a home to one-fifth of the world's population. China's reforms, development and modernization will impact the world. The world is watching every event and development in China. At a time when the world more particularly Europe and USA are in deep economic crisis due to history's worst recession, China has successfully managed to handle this situation and kept itself safe from the global economic crisis.
The emergence of China on the world scene constitutes the most significant event in world politics since the end of World War II. Given its size, location, dynamism, and unique but pragmatic approach to many global issues, a rapidly growing China is certain to reshape the global distribution of power and major issues confronting the international community. The peaceful rise is her natural and strategic choice, proceeding from her own vital interests and the common interests of the people across the world. Overall, the domestic and international environments and the trend of development are favorable to China's peaceful rise, which is now being implemented in her foreign policy with good results, adding a new dimension to China's independent foreign policy for peace. With understanding, support and cooperative efforts of the international community, China is expected to find her own way of growing more prosperous and stronger.
Now I want to focus on China&rsquos cardinal aspects of Beijing&rsquos Nepal policy.
Coming, finally, to China&rsquos Nepal policy, a few points need be made at the very outset Nepal and China are not only close neighbours linked by mountains and rivers , but also that the friendly exchanges between the two peoples can be dated far back into history.
Second, China&rsquos Nepal policy is founded on very firm strategic ground. China has always treated its relations with Nepal from a strategic high with a long-term view. That is very significant as it indicates that Beijing considers her relations with Kathmandu as being of a strategic nature and of long-term rather than of merely transient duration.
Beijing is deeply appreciative of Nepal&rsquos long and consistent support for China in the international arena, including in ensuring that Nepalese territory is not abused and transformed into a launching pad for &lsquofree Tibet&rsquo activities. Beijing is also grateful that Nepal has been a firm supporter of the One-China policy, demonstrated by her 25 October 1971 vote for Beijing replacing Taipei at the United Nations, as the rightful claimant to China&rsquos UN, including her permanent UN Security Council, seat. Expression of such support has become a staple of Sino-Nepalese relations as are regular reiterations from the Nepalese side of her commitment not to permit hostile anti-Chinese activities on Nepali soil, including those directed at Tibet.
To fully appreciate the significance of the above, it will be useful to not merely recall China century of humiliation in the past but also her determination, particularly since the founding of the PRC, to ensure that never again would China become a playground or pawn for foreign powers, each with their own pet, and usually divisive, agendas.
China&rsquos Nepal policy, all guided by the paramount stress China places on stability and security, domestically and internationally, including along the long borders China shares with many countries.