Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

How does China View Its Neighboring Countries?

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How does China View Its Neighboring Countries?

China altogether has 21 neighboring countries, including 14 continental neighbors and 7 maritime neighbors. It has the most neighboring countries in the world. Comparing with the U.S. and other countries, China is in face of the most complicated international environment. It not only has the giant neighbor like Russia which has a population of 144.3 million, but also has the small neighbor like Bhutan which merely has a population of 817,726. At the same time, China is a country with vast land territory area covering 9.6 million square kilometers and maritime territory area covering approximately 3 million square kilometers, even much larger than the total territory area of 44 countries and regions in Europe.
In another word, for 34 provincial-level administrative districts in China, nearly every single provincial-level administrative district approximates to a medium European country in terms of territory area, economic scale and population size. Such enormous size also propels neighboring countries to generate extremely sophisticated affection towards China. On the one hand, some neighbouring countries expect China to mobilize the development of their own countries; while on the other hand, some neighbouring countries are afraid of the negative influences imposed by China.
In recent years, some media in neighboring countries claim that China might turn their home lands into a colony to seize raw materials and dump industrial products. In the long run, these neighboring countries would turn more and more impoverished and have to attach themselves to China in the end.
To be sure, this concern is not unreasonable since every country would prudently reflect on the relation with neighboring countries from the stance of diplomatic relations. From the perspective of these neighboring countries, they worry whether an unamiable China would threaten their own development. In turn, China has such concern whether an unamiable neighboring country would threaten its own development as well.
U.S. only has two neighboring countries, namely Canada and Mexico. Out of this reason, the national relation confronted by U.S. seems to be very simple. The prosperous, stable and friendly neighboring country - Canada becomes the firmest partner of U.S., but in contrast, the poor, turbulent and hostile neighboring country - Mexico turns to be a troublemaker which constantly transports drugs and refugees to U.S. It is not hard to understand that U.S. prefers neighbors like Canada instead of Mexico. Trump Administration even  plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico so as to prevent all troubles outside of the wall. As proved by past historical experience, all countries aspire to have a prosperous, stable and friendly neighboring country. Like U.S., China also expects to have a neighboring country like Canada, to mutually helps each other for joint development. Indeed, since the reform and opening-up in China as of 1978, China has received considerable investment from developed economic entities such as U.S., Japan, South Korea and Singapore and in the meantime learned advanced technologies and management concepts. China exactly obtains high-speed economic development on this basis and develops to be the world’s second largest economic entity in the world till 2010. Such brilliant achievements attained by China totally benefit from the interaction with developed countries and the constant learning of advanced technologies and management experience.
It is worth mentioning here that among overall 21 neighboring countries of China, in addition to few developed countries, most of them remain to be developing countries faced with tough development issues. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) for the first time in which he expressed the expectation for sharing the development experience of China with other countries in the world, in particular surrounding neighboring countries. However, some media in the neighboring countries hold the opinion that China conspires to turn other countries into its own colonies through the BRI. Obviously, this opinion runs counter to the national interests of China.
From the perspective of economics, any rational person would make favorable decisions. By the same token ,any rational country would also make favorable decisions instead of unfavorable ones. As stated above, to have 21 prosperous, stable and friendly neighboring countries could push forward the development of China, but to have 21 poor, turbulent and hostile neighboring countries could cause huge losses to China.
Now that the decision-makers of China are the cleverest elites chosen from hundreds of thousands of and even millions of Chinese people, how could they make stupid decisions which might turn their neighboring countries much poorer, more turbulent and hostile?
Afghanistan is a geographically beautiful country full of its own culture,customs and traditions, both China and Afghanistan have good wishes for common development. Hence, China regards Afghanistan as the most precious neighbor, and a prosperous, stable and friendly Afghanistan meets the national interest of China. Eventually, China does not have the power or intention to colonize any country including Afghanistan. In the past over one hundred years, Chinese people had witnessed poverty and backwardness and desired to lead an affluent and stable life. As a consequence, the development of China also requests a peaceful and stable surrounding environment.
The development of China is actually inseparable from the assistance of its neighboring countries including Afghanistan. Simultaneously, China is willing to share its own development experience with neighboring countries and devoting to building this area into the model of world peace and prosperity.

Huazhong Tu, Scholar, Tsinghua University & Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, P.R.China; Andi Luo & Wenxian Zha, Scholars, Yunnan University, P.R.China

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