A night view of the Beijing CBD on Sept 9, 2018. [Photo/IC]
We live in a world that is undergoing changes unseen in a century. An era with great changes requires great thoughts and can produce such thoughts. Thoughts will lead to further changes. I would like to talk about a few aspects relating to China's rise and its global significance.
First, China's rise is the first-ever peaceful rise of a great power. In sharp contrast to the rise of Western powers that waged wars of aggression or plundered resources from others, peace is the highlight of China's progress. Through peaceful development, it has managed to improve people's well-being within a short time.
The reason that China could achieve a peaceful rise is that it upholds the principle of win-win cooperation. Over the past few years, China has contributed to more than 30 percent of global economic growth, more than the combined contributions of the United States and the European Union.
Second, China has realized four industrial revolutions. For historical reasons, it missed the First and Second Industrial Revolutions. Over the past four decades, China has strived to catch up. From the 1980s to the early 1990s, China witnessed its first industrial revolution marked by light industry－textile and cottage industries－by developing township enterprises. From the early 1990s to the beginning of the 21st century, China completed its second industrial revolution, marked by power generation, the internal combustion engine, home appliances, petrochemicals and infrastructure development. China became a leading force in the Third Industrial Revolution, which featured information and communication industries.
Today, the world is witnessing the transformation from the Third Industrial Revolution to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is marked by big data, artificial intelligence and quantum communication and is profoundly changing society.
Third, China's rise has broken the "center-periphery" dependency system, which has long plagued developing countries. Under this system, Western countries were the "core" of the world while developing ones were the "periphery". In the new system, China, being the largest trade, investment and technology partner of developing and developed countries, is in a unique position to influence the future evolution of the world order.
Fourth, China is bringing profound changes to the international landscape. Take China-Africa trade, for example. Ten years ago, the US was Africa's largest trading partner. Now China has taken that position, and the volume of China-Africa trade is twice that of US-Africa trade. Similar changes are taking place in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The EU is China's largest trading partner, while China is the US' largest creditor country and second-largest trading partner.
China is in a unique position to promote the common interests of all countries and world peace. It has advocated neighborly and friendly relations. China does not identify a circle of friends based on ideology, and it transcends the Cold War, zero-sum-game mentality of either friends or foes. Instead, it is committed to the path of win-win cooperation.
China has adhered to its age-old saying that a warlike country, however powerful, is destined for self-destruction. Although the fleet of Zheng He's overseas expeditions in the first half of the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was nearly a hundred times bigger than that of Christopher Columbus when he discovered America, China promoted trade rather than expansion or colonization.
The US became the world's largest economy around the 1890s and immediately launched the Spanish-American War. By defeating Spain, the US occupied Spanish colonies such as the Philippines and Cuba. China, on the other hand, became the world's largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, an exchange rate that allows you to buy the same amount of goods and services in every country, in 2014.
China could quickly take back islands in the South China Sea illegally occupied by neighboring countries, but it chooses not to do so. Instead, it advocates settling disputes through negotiations.
After its first nuclear test in 1964, it declared the no-first-use policy and pledged not to use nuclear weapons against states that do not have such weapons. If all nuclear states could do so, the world could be free from the fear of nuclear wars.
China promotes exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations and win-win cooperation, and opposes hegemony. China is confidently telling the US that launching a trade war and blocking 5G technology leader Huawei is like a person lifting a rock only to drop it on his own toes. We think exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations and win-win cooperation are genuine wisdom in the best interests of the US. We are patient enough to wait for the US to wake up to this wisdom.
The author is director of the China Institute at Fudan University and a board member of the China National Think Tanks Council. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.