China Should Become a Great Power with Decency

Posted August 27, 2013

International reputation of China, the "big power," has plummeted. It is a natural backlash over China's recent injudicious drive to become a big power and to enhance its national interests.
Instead of posing threats to surrounding nations by force, China should become a great power with decency, being held in esteem.
According to the June 11th issue of "Sankei Shimbun," "Reference News," China's newspaper specialized in international affairs, reported on June 5th about a recent survey finding by BBC.
A questionnaire survey directed at 26 thousand people across 25 nations (conducted between December 2012 and April 2013) shows that the ranking of China's national image has dropped from the fifth of last year to the ninth.
Negative assessment account for 39% and positive assessment accounts for 42%.
The most negative against China are such western countries as France (68%), Germany (67%) and the US (67%).
Human right issues and trade frictions seem the main reasons.
These figures are worse than those negative reputations as in Japan (64%) and South Korea (61%).
In Africa (70-80%) where China used to be held in high reputation for its enormous "assistance," the figure dropped by 10 percent.
China's venture into Africa has gradually aroused criticism of neo-colonialism by way of development and import of natural resources as well as immigration of Chinese laborers.

At the summit meeting with President Obama on June 7-8, President Xi Jinping proposed a "new type of great power relationship between the US and China."
He also expressed China's willingness to split the hegemony over the Pacific region between the two powers, saying that "the vast Pacific Ocean has enough space to accommodate the two big nations of China and the US."
Since immediately after his inauguration, President Xi Jinping has shown his intention to regain the glory (and territory?) of the Chinese Empire, thereby creating anxiety among the surrounding nations.
He may know, though, that China could not dominate the US.
Instead, he aims to attain a G2 dominance of the world between the two countries.
He seems to take no account of China's another big neighbor, Russia.

China violates intellectual property right of many countries, attempts to despoil Japan of the Senkaku Islands based upon a distorted historical interpretation claiming Japan had "robbed" them, and barely conceals its intention to get even by armed means Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands off the Southeast Asian nations based upon the similar logic.
It also exerts coercive pressure on India over Kashmir and north-eastern borders.
It is a bad joke of President Xi Jinping to claim victimhood of cyber-terrorism in response to President Obama's warning against China's large scale cyber-attacks.

China, no matter how mighty it has become, should understand that there is no possibility in contemporary Asia to reestablish anachronistic China centric hierarchy with neighboring countries as a sort of tributary nations.
Dreaming of the revival of Qing dynasty who once achieved the biggest Chinese territory by military means would only harm China's national interests in the long run.
If China should wish to stick to the glory of the past, it should refer to the cases of Han Dynasty or Tang Dynasty who had respectively led the world not only in terms of military might but of culture and civilization, thereby acquiring cultural centripetal force stretching from the surrounding tributary nations to those nations along the Silk Road.
It is not until China is possessed with prominent soft power and decency, instead of posing threats with hard power, that China could become “great” in its true sense. Even under authoritarian Communist rule, there should be not a few people with bonne sense among the population of 1.4 billion.
In expectation of the bonne sense of the Chinese people and their legitimate wishes, we should look closely to see if China would become a Great Power, not a mere Big Power.

(This is the English translation of an article written by Amb. HIRABAYASHI Hiroshi, former Ambassador, which originally appeared on the BBS "Hyakka-Seiho" of JFIR on June 11, 2013.)