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Wu Guoguang The Peaceful Emergence of a Great Power? T h e r a p i d g r o w t h o f c h i n a ’ s e c o n o m i c , m i l it a r y , a n d d ip l o m a t ic power has captured international attention for more than 10 years, and has stimulated policy and scholarly debates worldwide. The first round of the debate, which took place in the mid- and late 1990s, was primarily concerned with contending assessments of China’s status as a power.1Discussion soon moved to focus on the profound impact China’s ascendance to a global power has had in a wide range of policy arenas—from trade, employment, and monetary stability to military, geopolitical, and human security—regionally and globally (see, for example, Brown et al., 2000; Johnston and Ross, 2002; Hoge and Rose, 2002). In the first decade of the twenty-first century, it seems that there is no longer any dispute, particularly in the worlds of popular read­ ing and business, over whether China faces a bright future or whether China will be—for some—the next superpower (see, for example, Shenkar, 2004; Fishman, 2005). The only questions that remain are how other countries will adapt themselves to a “China century” and join the bandwagon of making a fortune in this revitalized ancient oriental kingdom. Serious scholars and policymakers, however, remain aware of how new powers often arise through international tension, political instability, and even military conflict (Gilpin, 1981; Kennedy, 1987; Mearsheimer, 2001). Will China be an exception to this tragic pattern of human history? Chinese leaders reply: yes, we will. After a decade social research Voi 73 : No 1 : Spring 2006 317 in which Chinese publications discussed the rise of China to the status of world leader,2after the transition to power from the so-called third generation of Chinese Communist leadership to the fourth generation (which took place during the sixteenth party congress in the fall o f2002 to late 2004, when the new party chief, Hu Jintao, took the position of head of the military), Chinese leaders, government policy advisers, and official media began to propose the “peaceful rise of China.” China is legitimately rising to global power, according to official Chinese claims, and this rise, unlike other human histories, will not cause any mili­ tary conflict or human suffering, but will simply continue as a peace­ ful process that also promotes peace everywhere in the world as well as economically benefiting all countries that cooperate with China. Contrary to the findings of political realism, which concludes that the rise of new powers inevitably causes wars in human history (Gilpin, 1981; Mearsheimer, 2001), or international liberalism, which asserts that only can mature democracies avoid such problems (Doyle, 1986; Russett, 1993; Brown et al., 1996), the authoritarian Chinese regime now is confident in its ability to remake human history—this time not by introducing a communist utopia to the capitalist world, but through China’s growing national power and, in particular, the benevolent intentions of Chinese leaders who use political oppression to govern their own country. Is this possible? How can they do it? What do they really mean when they talk about a “peaceful rise”? And, more impor­ tant, will their actions belie this articulated good intention? These are some of the crucial questions one must address when considering China’s alleged “peaceful rise.” CHINESE RHETORIC REGARDING THE “PEACEFUL RISE”: STATEMENTS AND ANALYSES Bo’ao is a small town in Hainan, an island province in south China, which became well known when the Chinese government chose it to be a location for regular meetings of the Bo’ao Forum for Asia. On November 3, 2003, Zheng Bijian, a senior Chinese Communist Party official,3delivered a speech to the forum entitled, “A New Path for 318 social research China’s Peaceful Rise and the Future of Asia.” This was the first time the term “China’s peaceful rise” (hepingjueqi)was introduced to a public audience by a leading Chinese official. In the speech, Zheng announced that “in the 25 years since the inception...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 317-344
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
No
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