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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 4:42am
China Briefing
PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 3:47am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 3:47am

Aggression is not part of national character

Xi Jinping's reiteration of his vision for peaceful development should help reassure neighbours in a time of rising regional tensions


Wang Xiangwei took up the role of Editor-in-Chief in February 2012, responsible for the editorial direction and newsroom operations. He started his 20-year career at the China Daily, before moving to the UK, where he gained valuable experience at a number of news organisations, including the BBC Chinese Service. In 1993, he moved to Hong Kong and worked at the Eastern Express before joining the South China Morning Post in 1996 as our China Business Reporter. He was subsequently promoted to China Editor in 2000 and Deputy Editor in 2007, a position he held for four years prior to being promoted to his current position. Mr. Wang has a Masters degree in Journalism, and a Bachelors degree in English.

The timing speaks volumes. On Thursday, while anti-China protests in Vietnam turned deadly, leaving at least two Chinese nationals dead and hundreds of factories damaged, President Xi Jinping was at the Great Hall of People, presenting his vision for China's role in peaceful development.

"There is no 'invasion gene' in Chinese people's DNA and they won't accept the logic that might is right," Xi told a 60th anniversary tribute to the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, a non-governmental organisation .

He also vowed that China would share more international responsibilities and obligations, take a more active role in solving contentious international issues and try to uphold justice.

Xi cited examples of the Chinese traders plying the silk trade routes more than 2,000 years ago to promote trade and culture and Zheng He, an early Ming dynasty eunuch turned diplomat who led peaceful expeditionary voyages as far afield as the Middle East and East Africa six centuries ago.

This is not the first time Xi has tried to articulate his vision for peace since he came to power nearly two years ago and he has largely stuck to the official script that China will not pursue hegemony and will insist on a peaceful path of development.

But the timing is significant as tensions run high over the territorial disputes with China's neighbours, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines .

Relations between Beijing and Washington have also soured. The US has accused Beijing of escalating tensions over the South China Sea, while Beijing has countered that the US has inflamed the situation with its military "pivot" to Asia, encouraging some of China's neighbours to use the policy as an excuse to provoke trouble.

While the chance of direct and large-scale military conflict is remote, unintended military clashes are very much possible .

In this context, Xi's calming words of reassurance are timely and should be welcomed. They will help ease international concerns and help rein in the rising nationalistic elements at home agitating for Beijing to take a tougher stance, and even military force if necessary.

As part of China's efforts to counter the theory that it is a threat, Xi's first public attempt to argue that the Chinese people lack a "gene for invasion" makes interesting reading.

As China has become the world's second-largest economy and will soon overtake the US, concerns about China's intentions are likely to increase .

History buffs cite examples of how Genghis Khan and his descendants built up the Yuan dynasty through the wholesale massacre of local populations and how the Qing dynasty extended control over Central Asia through brutal conquest. But what is often neglected is that the dynasties that were expanded in the most ruthless manner were ruled by ethnic minorities: Mongols in the Yuan dynasty and Manchus in the Qing dynasty.

It may sound simplistic, but history has indeed shown that when dynasties were ruled by Han Chinese they were known for trade and cultural expansion.

The Silk Road began and expanded under the Han dynasty, while Zheng He's voyages occurred in the Ming.

Sceptics may also point to border wars with India (1962) and Vietnam (1979). But both conflicts were short and the PLA quickly withdrew.



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This article is now closed to comments

Was this reprinted from China Times?
Predictable mindless fawning from Wang yet again. Wang enjoys his "interesting reading", lapping up the usual CCP propaganda. Why on earth would you take a word falling from Xi's lips as genuine? He's the same man who talks about respect for the law and human rights while simultaneously throwing anyone opposing his ideas behind bars. The fact is the CCP have never been more aggressive towards its neighbours than under Xi.
Mr President, if you want to be perceived as a peaceful nation, the key is more actions and fewer words. The other countries with claims to the South China Sea wish only for their sovereignty to be respected. Until you are willing to be a bit more conciliatory with your claims, China will continue to be perceived as arrogant and a bully. You say there is no invasion gene in China's DNA, and it's true that -- after many years of being dominated by foreign powers -- China now has the economic and military might to be more confident, and that's fine. But it's how that muscle is USED that counts. Do you think the US would be "pivoting" in Asia if China's neighbours weren't asking for some sense of balance in the region? The best solution may well be to have multilateral talks with Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and others that also have claims. It's not about a historical basis to China's claims of the territory anymore; now it's about how the big dog on the block treats the smaller dogs. Talk is cheap. Now China must SHOW that it is willing to be more respectful of its neighbours, and they will respect you back. That's why there are riots in Vietnam. It comes down to whether you can stop being a two-year-old with a bag of toys, shouting "Mine, mine, mine!" It really is that simple.
I totally agree with the author. There is no invasion gene in CPC. History tells us that CPC only dare to kill Chinese, it's citizens.
"Xi's calming words of reassurance are timely and should be welcomed"
---but actions always speak louder than words. So instead of Xi saying 'there there, it's all good', China should have entered a joint venture with Vietnam to place that oil rig there rather than trying to ram it down their throat.
Instead, China's actions make a mockery of Xi's own words. There's been much talk about Xi consolidating control in his first 2 years in office. So is he just full of hot air? Or is his control more tenuous than we've been led to believe, such that people are trying to undermine his conciliatory tone with overtly provocative actions?
This isn't even worth .50¢
It's just a thought - the Han Chinese were brought up in Confucius and other sages' teaching but the majority of the present Chinese from China might have been brought up by Mao's teaching.
How About
Well done XiangWei!
When you are next consulted on these remind the cadres to develop the soft sides of PR- buy up journalists i.e. sponsor think tanks, study foundations and pay them handsomely to write for China. If the budget permits, sponsor some Hollywood films to do the same, better still start Chinewood asap.
Wang Xiangwei is Editor-in-Chief of the South China Morning Propaganda.
This article reads like the work of a sycophant. No critical thinking whatsoever.




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