China should promote peace overseas to enhance its reputation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 11:01pm

China will resume imports of Norwegian salmon. They had been embargoed following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波).

Beijing was punishing Norway commercially, as it is the host country of the Nobel [peace prize] committee. However, this boycott seriously damaged the international image of China, making its leaders appear petty, cruel and vindictive.

To be awarded the Nobel Prize is a great honour for a person and his or her country, and should not be politicised.

The Peace Prize, in particular, far surpasses in prestige the awards given for science or economics, because it calls for great bravery and sacrifice.

China is using its wealth to invest in overseas projects and gain greater recognition – a kind of “soft power”. When these projects are accompanied by military personnel and bases (“hard power”), they are viewed with some suspicion. This is similar to the tactics of past imperialist powers.

It would be wiser and more beneficial for China’s image if some its wealth was given to those who promote social harmony and world peace. I can envisage a prestigious “Noble Prize for Peace” given internationally, not as a rival, but as a complement to the Nobel Prize.

This may seem idealistic because most political leaders and their military allies follow the doctrines of Niccolò Machiavelli who advised princes to be feared, not loved. The Chinese author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu, is also studied by many who view peace-building as naive and a threat to their nation.

China is spending huge amounts to expand its navy. Just a small fraction of that expenditure could be used to set up a prize fund that would receive international acclaim. The effect would be to dilute and reduce some of the fear and tension now arising from China’s commercial and military assertiveness. An additional benefit would come from encouraging Chinese citizens to work toward better social cohesion and understanding, to supplement ruling party efforts within China.

In our modern world, a nation is respected and admired not for its nuclear missiles or military parades, but for the health, dignity, freedom and dedication of its citizens. Perhaps some day a Chinese “noble peace prize” will be awarded to many of China’s peace-loving citizens.

To build railroads, bridges and sea ports overseas is good; to build social harmony and international peace is even better.

Jason Kuylein, Stanley