China’s dream of harmonious existence

Lun Tan – China Daily

Copyright China Daily
President Hu Jintao suggested in his September 15 speech at the United Nations General Assembly that a “world of harmony” be brought about by all nations on Earth.
This signifies first of all the importance of the co-existence of
diversified civilizations on our planet.
About 6 billion people of 2,500 ethnic groups in more than 200
dwell on Earth. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and many other faiths
exist side by side.
Pluralist civilizations constitute a very important driving force for
the progress of the human race.
Tolerance, which is free of restrictions by any ideologies and social
systems, plays a role of paramount importance in bringing about
co-existence for different civilizations. Only respect for each other,
equal treatment, learning from each other and being considerate can
ensure harmony in the world.
Applying this in the international political arena means consultation
among all parties involved, not unilateralism driven by hegemonic
This calls for democracy in international politics, instead of “what I
say goes.”
This is based on an optimistic judgment of international politics over
the last six decades since World War II, when the idea of “world of
harmony” was yearned for and conceived.
Fully-fledged wars and the Cold War in the 20th century were waged by
big powers whose mutual relations were strained over a long period.
Looking to the future in the new century, we can be sure the big powers
will alternately encounter times of strained relations and enjoy
exchanges. Although the possibility of a deterioration of relations
should not be ruled out, the big-power relations are poised to develop
in a benign direction. The international community should help make
happen because the nature of relations between the leading global
will determine war and peace on the world stage and the smooth running
of world affairs and upheavals, as historical experience tells us.
In addition, countries are becoming more and more dependent on each
other economically, taking into account the accelerating economic
globalization process, which will help foster better ties between
nations, big powers included.
At the same time, the negative aspects of globalization should by no
means be ignored. While driving world economic growth, globalization is
making the world’s wealth disproportionately concentrated in the hands
of a small number of countries and a handful of individuals.
The ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots has become the
root cause of upheavals and social unrest, which renders this world
The gap between the least developed nations and the most developed
widens each day, as does the disparity between the poorest populations
and the richest ones.
According to a UN report on the development of the human race released
this year, the total income of the richest 500 people in the world is
higher than that of the 416 million poorest people put together.
The unfair and unjust world economic order is seriously hampering the
harmonious development of the world economy.
Take aid to poor countries. Some rich countries that have enjoyed
sustained prosperity since the end of the Cold War have not become more
generous. Their per capita income has increased by more than US$6,000
but their per capita aid to poor countries has dropped to US$1.
Poor countries often run into tariff barriers set up by rich countries
that are three to four times higher than those between wealthy
Taking all this into account, eradicating world poverty and redressing
the current unfair world economic order are pre-conditions to the
world’s balanced development, and, in turn, harmony.
Viewed from other angles, the idea of a “harmonious world” has been put
forward because this world is not harmonious at present.
After September 11 and the Iraq war, profound changes have taken place
in the world political arena. Contradictions have become
acute – the clashes between terrorism and anti-terror campaigns; the
contradiction between the United States’ unilateralist inclinations and
the world’s general trend towards multilateralism.
Wars and armed conflicts are posing a large threat to the harmony of
Twenty-three serious armed conflicts are going on in the world today,
including those raging and those cooling down.
Environmental damage, refugees, deteriorating public hygiene,
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cross-border organized
crime are other factors threatening the harmonious development of the
In view of this, a common security mechanism, common prosperity and
pushing for the reform of the United Nations, in addition to tolerance,
are the remedies prescribed by China.
In particular, the role of the United Nations, which is at the core of
the world’s collective security mechanism, should be strengthened, not
The idea of harmony is rooted in traditional Chinese thinking.
The Chinese word “he” has not only the connotations of “harmony” and
“unity” but also those of “centripetal” and “coherence.”
For the ancient Chinese, “harmony” was always at the core of dealing
with everything from state affairs to neighbourly relations. The
has always had a profound influence on the country’s relations with the
rest of the world.
At the same time, the Chinese have always emphasized the importance of
“ruling a country benevolently,” instead of “rule by force.” This is a
different expression of “harmony.”
Putting forward the idea of bringing about “a world of harmony” today
also a way of promoting Chinese culture in the modern context.
The article is based on a discussion by international affairs
specialists that appeared in Global Times
(China Daily 11/10/2005 page4)

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