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Li Daguang: “Non-aligned” policy does not mean China cannot make friends

[This is a translation courtesy of Charles Liu of a recent Op-Ed by LI Daguang]

李大光:中国 “不结盟” 并不意味着不结交朋友
LI Daguang: China’s “Non-aligned” Policy Does Not Mean She Cannot Make Friends

2012-02-27 08:34

摘要:结交朋友,特别是牢固的国家友好关系,有利于打破某些大国针对中国建立的包围圈。否则就会出现国家越来越强大了,朋友却越来越少了;国家越来越富裕了,但影响力却越来越小了。这是软实力不强的真实反映。

Abstract: Making friends, especially dependable international relations, have the benefit of breaking down certain containment against China by larger countries. Otherwise as China becomes stronger, friends become fewer, and as she becomes wealthier, influence declines. This is a true reflection of weak soft power.

作者:李大光 国防大学教授
Author: LI Daguang, China National Defense University Professor

中国已经是世界第二大经济体,但是即便在东亚地区,中国的影响力也比不上美国和日本。而且,中国的持续快速发展,还导致部分周边国家疑虑增加以及外部“介入”加深。为什么会出现这种现象?究其原因,是对中国外交方针没有具体的落实策略和步骤,尤其是放弃盟国外交战略,没有区分层次、选择重点地建立稳固的盟友关系。

Although China is the world’s second largest economy, China’s influence cannot even compete with USA and Japan in East Asia. China’s sustained rapid development also increased suspicion by neighboring countries and deepened external “interference”. What brought about this? One reason is China’s lack of specific foreign policy and implement, specifically in neglecting strategic alliances, lack of distinction and selectively building strong alliances.

中国坚持不结盟政策,就是不与任何大国或大国集团结盟,这既是鉴于上世纪五六十年代与苏联结盟的教训,也是因为中国认为和平与发展是世界的主题,不结盟一可减少国家摩擦,为我国经济社会发展创造良好的国际环境;二有利于维护世界和平,减少战争威胁;三有利于维护我国独立自主的地位,免受他国牵制,可以广交国际朋友。可以说,这种独立自主的外交政策是我们自上世纪70年代以来打开外交局面的重要原因,但对盟国外交的完全否定随着国际形势的变化已经显得矫枉过正。

China adheres to non-aligned policy, where it does not align with any large nation or large international group. This is based on the lessons learned from the Soviet alliance of 50’s and 60’s, and the belief in peaceful development as a world theme, that 1) non-alliance can reduce friction between nations, while a positive global environment is beneficial to China’s domestic economic social development; 2) maintain world peace, lessen threat of war; 3) protect China’s sovereign independence, free from constraints imposed by others, and able to exchange friendship world-wide. It can be said the independence of China’s foreign policy since 1970’s has been instrumental in opening up China diplomatically, however the rejection of diplomatic alliances and not adapting to global trends are obvious over-correction.

笔者认为,中国坚持不结盟政策,是指冷战时期那种东西方对抗背景下的结盟关系,但并不意味着不结交朋友,也并不意味着不参加区域安全机制构建。结交朋友,特别是牢固的国家友好关系,有利于打破某些大国针对中国建立的包围圈。否则就会出现国家越来越强大了,朋友却越来越少了;国家越来越富裕了,但影响力却越来越小了。这是软实力不强的真实反映。

The author believes, China’s non-aligned policy came out of alliance and relationship during cold war era east-west antagonism, which does not mean non-participation in establishing friendship and joining regional security organization. Making friends, especially solid relatioships between nations, will be beneficial in break down containment established against China by some large nations. Otherwise it would appear that friends are fewer while China becomes stronger, her influence dwindle while the country becomes richer. This is a reflection of weak soft power.

建立牢固的国家关系是一个国家软实力的体现和反映。以美国为例,美国在全世界拥有众多盟友,既有经济金融方面的合作伙伴,又有政治军事领域的可靠盟军,拥有遍布全球的盟友体系,为之提供信息、资源和人力支持。在一些事情上,美国的盟国就为其代言甚至代劳。盟友的增减亲疏,对衡量美国实力和分析美国战略意图意义很大。

Establishing solid international relations is a reflection of a country’s soft power. For example America has many allies globally, from financial partners to reliable political, military alliances, providing information, resources, and support. The US allies sometimes speak on its behalf, even act on its behalf. The ebb and flow of these alliances is very meaningful in analyzing America’s projection of power and strategic intent.

另外,机制化生存是现代国际社会的真实状况。在当今国际背景下,各种国际机制特别是区域安全机制,对于维护地区安全稳定具有不可替代的作用。因此,机制化生存是中国在和平发展进程中的必然选择,中国主动积极地参与区域安全机制是营造周边安全环境的重要途径。中国参与国际机制不仅意味着我们对国际关系发展趋势的准确把握和对外关系、对外政策的革命性变化,也是适应国内经济发展需要而做出的外部努力。虽然当前一些国际机制的体制结构、行为规范及其内在蕴涵的核心价值观对于中国国际行为的自主性将产生某些负面效应,但化解负面效应的有效途径不应是消极地回避和抵制,把它看成不可触摸的禁区。只有采取具有进取性的参与措施,发展可靠的、一致维持区域稳定的合作伙伴关系,才能有效地维护国家安全稳定特别是周边安稳。

Also, survival by institutionalizing is a global reality. Various international organization, especially regional security infrastructure, is irreplaceable in safeguarding security and stability in peripheral regions. Therefore, survival by instutionalizing is a natural choice for China’s peaceful development, an important path for China’s creation of a safe periphery thru active participation in regional security infrastructure. China’s participation in international organizations not only means we have an accurate grasp of external relations and developing international trends, revolutionary changes in foreign policy is also an effort for domestic economic development. Although some current international institutions and their core value, behavior, are negative towards China’s international perogrative, passive avoidance, seeing them as inviolable obstical, is not an effective way to neuturalize their negaive effects. Only thru engagement, developing consistent and reliable partnerships in regional stability, will we effectively safeguard national security especially in the periphery.

有鉴于此,中国应该在正确的外交方针指引下,积极稳妥地推进盟国外交战略,积极参与国际机制特别是区域安全机制构建,不应因过去盟国外交的教训矫枉过正。

In light of this, rather than over-correcting past diplomatic lessons, China should steadily advance its strategic diplomatic alliances, actively participate in international organizations particullarily in establishing regional security infrastructure, under the guidance of prudent foreign policy direction.

  1. March 9th, 2012 at 01:24 | #1

    Building alliances also cost money. With China focused so intensely on internal development, it may not be able to afford building alliances – which if turned competitive – could drain money just as fast as being involved in an arms race.

    I agree a lot with this article, but I really think slow and steady is the way to go.

    It is difficult for China to build an independent alliance of its own in the face of such strong Western alliance (that includes Japan). The way to go is to deepen relations with all without forcing anyone to choose. The key is to make the world ready for a Chinese-led alliance (such an alliance need not be aggressive; only that they define and evolve and defend common interests that include and respect China’s interests). Over time, as China gets stronger, there will come a time when China will be able to – when the time is right – rapidly build a real alliance.

    It’s sort of like piling sand … nothing happens for a long time – until when the time is right, and bang – you get an avalanche – and things flip to a new reality (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured_criticality).

  2. March 9th, 2012 at 11:05 | #2

    With the Obama Asia ‘pivot,’ it is naturally giving more ammunition to those within China weary of the U.S.. MIT Political Science Professor M. Taylor Fravel recently noted despite this ‘pivot,’ China has not upped her military spending. The military budget in absolute terms increased, but as a percentage of overall government budget remained about the same.

  3. jimmy
    March 12th, 2012 at 10:54 | #3

    Nations today can no longer afford to be neutral. The rise of the warmongers requires one to determine who is really friend and who is an enemy (one that stabs you in the back). China must not readily trust foreign friends. Read http://www.scribd.com/doc/84860835 for explanation.

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