China is an opportunity, not a threat

On 13 November 2021, Consul General Ma Qiang of the Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh wrote to the editor of The Scotsman regarding its recent editorial on China. An abridged version of the letter was published on the Letters to the Editor page of 19 Nov. The Scotsman. The full text is as follows:

I refer to your editorial “Cold War looms with China” (The Scotsman, 12 Nov.), which portrayed China hypothetically as an enemy to the West. The assertions made are at best misleading. Indeed, they are dangerous in spreading mistaken fears and mistrust in people’s minds. So, let’s look at the facts that underly the main points of your article.

The author states that Hong Kong’s democracy has been “crushed”. In fact, during 156 years of British colonial rule, none of the 28 Hong Kong governors were elected by the Hong Kong people. Only when Hong Kong was returned to China did its residents begin to enjoy any real form of democracy. China introduced the principle of “one country, two systems” and “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” giving Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy. Its new status as a “Special Administrative Region of the PRC” enabled Hong Kong to maintain its economic prosperity and stability. It has been rated by many international institutions as the world’s freest economy. The rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong citizens are now fully protected in accordance with the law and its electoral system has been improved, fully reflecting the principle of “Patriots governing Hong Kong”.

The comments on Taiwan may well reflect the editor’s own opinion but in fact the United Nations, including the US and UK, regard Taiwan as part of China. Taiwan was returned to China by Japan after World War II in accordance with the 1943 Cairo Declaration and the 1945 Potsdam Proclamation, to which the UK was a party. The current state of separation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has been a result of China’s civil war in the 1940s and the international circumstances afterwards. All but a few countries acknowledge that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and not “an independent state”. China is ready to make every effort with the utmost sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification, but will not leave any room for any form of Taiwan secessionist activities. Taiwan’s participation in regional economic cooperation must be based on one-China principle. China firmly rejects Taiwan’s accession to any agreement or organization of official nature.

Is China posing a threat to the South China Sea? China’s sovereignty and territorial rights and interests in the South China Sea have been established in the long course of history. They are supported by abundant historical and legal bases. China always advocates friendly negotiations and consultations with countries in the region to settle the South China Sea issue. In fact, none of the working oil drilling rigs in the disputed waters in the South China Sea are China’s. The freedom of navigation there has never been threatened by China. Indeed, if a “threat” is true, the instigator is most definitely not China, but more likely to be a far-off state sending a carrier strike group to the region from tens of thousands of miles away.

In my view, a much greater threat lies in the AUKUS with many countries in the Asia Pacific expressing concerns about this trilateral nuclear submarine cooperation. This alliance involves the transfer of weapons-grade uranium (of over 90 percent fissile purity) to Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state. This in turn constitutes a grave nuclear proliferation risk and violates the object and purpose of the “Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty”. The partnership, established on geopolitical grounds, is in fact a typical military bloc reminiscent of the Cold War era. It will certainly heighten regional tensions.

In the final analysis, it seems clear that the author is most agitated about the growing economic power of China and because its political system is structured in a different way from Western democracy. The truth is, however, democracy is a shared value of humanity rather than a patent solely owned by the West. Who is to measure the democracy of a country? Its own people. One only knows whether a shoe fits when he tries it on, while democracy cannot be one-size-fits-all. Democracy is enshrined in the Constitution of China, which states “All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people.” The Chinese people enjoy a whole-process democracy, which is an all-dimensional, full-coverage democracy with a complete set of institutions. The socialist democratic politics works for China. A 13-year-long survey by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has shown that the Chinese people’s overall satisfaction towards their government exceeds 93%. The Communist Party of China has been supported wholeheartedly by the Chinese people, and its leadership is the choice of history and the people.

China is currently moving toward its second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country. Under the guiding principle of “Building A Community with Shared Future for Mankind”, it is also ready to shoulder its responsibility as a major country. While achieving its own development, China will also make efforts to deepen international cooperation, and establish partnerships to deal with common challenges, climate change included, bringing benefits to more countries and their peoples. China is an opportunity, not a threat.

The author would do well to study the Chinese system of democracy before making such inflammatory statements about China and not let ideological prejudice blind your eyes. 

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