Addressing a grand ceremony marking the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said, "We have never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and we never will." This is not an empty promise. China has insisted on a development path that neither seeks hegemony, nor engages in aggression or colonialism over the more than 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China.
The Chinese people have made great development achievements under the leadership of the CPC through their own hard work step by step. They steered clear of following the Western path of colonialism and aggression.
Historically, the rise of Western major powers relied on colonial expansion and aggression. Their development path is defined by exploitation. But China has embarked on a completely different road with a brand new roadmap.
China, the most populous country, has eradicated absolute poverty and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects through a peaceful development path. This is a great contribution to the world's development. It could serve as a good reference for other countries who seek independent development paths too.
Western development is based on a disgraceful history. Now, many Western countries are still trying to suppress the development rights of other countries in order to maintain the unfair and unreasonable international order dominated by them.
China wants independent development. It hopes to bring its people better lives through diligent work. But some Western countries want to stifle China's development rights. When Xi noted that China has never bullied, oppressed, or subjugated the people of any other country, and it never will, he also stressed that the Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to bully, oppress, or subjugate us. "Anyone who would attempt to do so will find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people," he said. This remark resonated powerfully among the Chinese public. After all, the Chinese people will not provoke troubles, but we will never flinch when trouble comes our way.
Over the years, more and more countries (including Russia and a great number of other developing countries) have become increasingly aware of the nature of the US and other Western countries. They know that these Western developed countries hold a strong sense of superiority and selfishly seek their own interests at the cost of developing countries' interests. These developing countries, especially those countries on the Belt and Road routes, also have understood better which country is now providing the world with more and better public goods.
Chinese people see the world as a relay race. But the West sees it as an elimination game. The West believes that the world is a boxing ring where there is no win-win situation, only zero-sum games. China, however, believes the world is a big stage - all countries can develop and flourish in their own way.
Xi also stressed that the Chinese nation does not carry aggressive or hegemonic traits in its genes. China has always worked to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order. We have come through the humiliation of colonial hegemony for more than 100 years, and we have suffered from this abuse. Chinese people's cultural and historical genes have determined that we will not seek hegemony. Nor do we have the will to do so.
China's cultural tradition of harmony and its painful experience of being bullied by foreign powers have made China cherish the environment for peaceful development. China's goal in the future is to develop itself first. China still has internal goals that have not been achieved, such as reaching total common prosperity for everyone by 2035.
If there is a struggle in today's world, it is by no means a battle between democracy and autocracy, as Biden put it. Biden wants to drag the world back to the past day of the Cold War when there was an unfair hegemonic order centered on the US. Washington is ganging up allies in the West, turning a blind eye to global cooperation, rudely disrupting global supply chains. It imposes sanctions on countries at its will.
Yet China, at the same time, represents the future. It emphasizes the building of community with a shared future for mankind. It firmly pursues common development, advocates consultations, contributions and sharing benefits. China has the confidence and the ability to embrace a new world without hegemony, a new globalized and diversified world together with all other countries and their people.
(Zhang Shuhua, director of the Institute of Political Sciences, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of this platform.)