By He Hui (Global Times)
Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online
After the trial voyage of China’s first aircraft carrier, some countries showedcomplicated emotions and expressed or implied that China is pursuing maritimehegemony. Their complicated emotions are understandable, but it is just theirimagination or terrible illusion that China is pursuing maritime hegemony.
However, this kind of imagination or illusion must not be underestimated. Some haveindeed made a conclusion based on the history of the first and second world wars thatif a country expands its armaments, it will pursue hegemony. At least, since Chinaalready has the aircraft carrier, Western media will have more ears to listen to its”China Threat theory” and will be able to make more conclusions of various types.
The sea trial of China’s aircraft carrier is simply a fact, and China has reiterated that itneeds to own aircraft carriers. China’s path of peaceful development has time andagain refuted the ”China military threat theory.” The entire low-profile sea trial processof China’s aircraft carrier has in a sense belied the ”China military threat theory” againbecause some countries have always urged China to increase its military transparencyover recent years, and they still doubt China’s motives after China improved its militarytransparency. This shows that they have yet to understand China, how deep their biastoward China is and how firmly they hold to the illusion of ”evil China.”
They do not understand China’s behaviors for a lack of understanding of China’sthoughts. Some countries’ historical vision is so narrow that they claim that theexpansion of military strength is just aimed at securing hegemony; peace refers only to”hegemonic stability” in their dictionary.
A powerful China has a greater desire to seek peace. China has never had a powerfulnavy. The world’s most powerful fleet led by Zheng He during China’s Ming Dynastyhad never imposed any threat to any other country. Instead, the fleet combatedpirates, sent signals of peace to many countries and advanced the friendship betweenChina and many remote countries. In contrast, Western explorers’ fleets that werevulnerable to the Ming fleets had slaughtered and plundered many countries.Therefore, whether or not a country’s military threatens peace does not depend onwhether its strength is weak or strong but rather some more fundamental factorsregarding the country, the most important of which is perhaps its culture and ideals.
The two virtues of ”He” and ”Ren” are the cornerstone of traditional Chinese culture. “He” means harmony and peace, and ”Ren” means humanity and benevolence. Boththe upper and lower classes in China admire the two virtues. Foreigners who know acertain amount of Chinese characters may find that the signboards of many Chineserestaurants and stores contain the two characters of ”He” and ”Ren,” just likeAmericans who often talk of democracy. The two virtues have been extolled andpreached by countless Chinese people over the past few thousand years.
The pursuit of peace does not mean China will give up its right of national defense.Like the country’s other military projects, the aircraft carrier project is defensive innature and is aimed at safeguarding national security rather than seeking hegemony.Certain Western military experts have already noted that China’s military buildup planfocuses on the development and deployment of anti-access and area-denial weapons.
For example, China has deployed anti-ship missiles in costal areas to prevent foreignaircraft carriers from entering its territorial waters. The country is building up its navalforces only for the purpose of strengthening its ability to defend itself. Admittedly,China’s aircraft carrier project will change the balance of power in the Asia-Pacificregion but as it continues to increase its military transparency, the ”China threattheory” will become increasingly unpopular.
The author is vice director of the Public Relations and Public Opinion Institute underthe Communication University of China.