Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, June 17th, 2019

A Good Neighborhood is a Great Treasure (Part 1)

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A Good Neighborhood is a Great Treasure (Part 1)

Many Afghan friends know the Great Wall of China and the famous Chinese saying: He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. Those who have been there speak of its majesty and practicality. As the most important military facility in ancient China, the over-2000-year-old wall was designed and used for defense rather than offense. Our ancestors took greater interest in defending the fruits of their own labor than plundering the land of others.
More than 600 years ago, when the Timurid dynasty rose in Afghanistan and Central and Western Asia, great Chinese navigator Zheng He led the world’s most powerful fleet to the Indian Ocean seven times, visiting India and more than thirty other countries. More than half a century later, Western explorers also ‘discovered’ India. With a flagship nearly 10 times bigger than the arriving western ship in tonnage, Zheng took with him silk, porcelain, sincere friendship and advanced technologies rather than cannoballs, colonists, fortresses or churches.
In the past 70 years since the founding of New China, China has not never provoked any war or conflict. It has developed fair and peaceful solutions to land boundary questions with 12 neighbors, including Afghanistan. My country pursues negotiated solutions to border and maritime disputes on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation.
China’s security thinking is based on self-defense. Active defense is central to its defense and military doctrines. We Chinese don’t have a gene for aggression or colonization, nor do we have any political or economic need to do so. China does not accept the leadership by any other country and we don’t have any intention to play the leader. The Chinese Character “安” (security) is written as a woman under the roof, meaning the creation of a family and protection of the vulnerable. The Chinese Character “武” (force) consists of two parts: “stop” and “dagger”, i.e., using force to stop violence and aggression. The “Chinese Kung Fu” familiar to Afghan friends aims at keeping fit and protecting people against violence rather than bullying others.
Since modern times, China and Afghanistan have both suffered bitterly from colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism. From the1840 Opium War to the founding of PRC in 1949, my home country had been invaded by more than 20 Western countries, forced to sign nearly 800 unequal treaties and lost more than 3 million square kilometers of land. Chinese causalities  in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression reached at 35 million, one third of the global total during World War II. The never-forgotten sufferings of war and turmoils drive us Chinese in a tireless pursuit of peace. “Do not do to others what you don’t want done to you.” This is written in the Analects of Confucious. China will never impose the pain of war on others. Rather we seek our own development in a peaceful international environment and in turn contribute to world peace as a stronger nation.
The century of chaos caused by war taught the Chinese people three bitter lessons. First, weak countries have no diplomacy and lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to bullying. We must develop strong national defense. Second, cutting off external ties offers no protection and we must open our eyes and mind to see and follow world trends, reform ourselves and  become stronger. Third, a nation stands firm in the family of nations and free from enemy greed only when it achieves economic development, political stability and national unity with the leadership of a strong political party.
Since the founding of New China, we have prioritized national defense development and demonstrated determination at critical moments to safeguard our independence and dignity against various external pressures. Yet military means should always be the last resort. The level of military modernization is still far from being sufficient to satisfy national security needs or catching up with advanced countries in the world. And we have not achieved a complete reunification of our country. In this connection, we must be mindful of danger in times of peace and make effort to enrich the country and strengthen the military at the same time.
China believes that peaceful development remains the trend of the times. There are still important strategic opportunities for development. But the world is not tranquil, with frequent ‘black swan’ events and increasing external resistance and challenges. As such, the Chinese armed forces  set their eyes on combat effectiveness, strive to effectively shape interaction dynamics and manage and control crises so as to avoid wars, and aim at winning a limited war of the information age when it occurs. They are therefore casting aside old thinking patterns for new ideas: from mechanized warfare to informatized warfare, from traditional security to comprehensive national security and extended strategic interests, from army-centric to integrated joint operations, and from departmentalism to wholistic approaches.
It is a strategic task of the Chinese military to safeguard China’s overseas interests, participate in regional and international security cooperation, maintain regional and world peace, and taken an active part in UN peacekeeping operations. China is now the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Thirteen Chinese soldiers have sacrificed their lives in peacekeeping missions and more than 2,500 Chinese officers and soldiers are now in active service of those missions. The PLA Navy performs anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and has been involved in many international disaster relief operations.
China has developed from a poor and weak country to the world’s second largest economy, relying on neither charity by any other country nor external military expansion. Rather, we made it with correct policies, hardworking people and a stable domestic environment. China does not make troubles and has no fear of troubles. China does not accept blackmails, surrender to pressures, covet other countries’ interests or envy their development, nor do we give up legitimate rights and interests or trade our core interests with others.
China is the largest developing country in the world and the United States, the largest developed country. As the two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US shoulder great responsibilities for world peace and development. In the  line of the famous Hollywood film Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. For these two countries, cooperation benefits them both while confrontation hurts both. A fight between the dragon and the eagle will only put medium-sized and small countries such as Afghanistan in difficult situations. China-US relationship is now at a critical juncture. Its healthy and steady development will hopefully be achieved with the two countries respecting each other, focusing on mutually-beneficial cooperation and managing well their differences. China and the US have common interests on the Afghan question. To realize stability and development in Afghanistan, major powers must work together. China stands ready to further cooperate and coordinate with the US to turn Afghanistan into a haven of major cooperation rather than a stage of major power competition.
Terrorism is a shared concern for China, US and Afghanistan, all three being victims to it. China and Afghanistan, in particular, stand at the forefront of the international anti-terror war. China always believes that we must oppose terrorism in any form and that we will win the war against terror only if a comprehensive strategy addressing both symptoms and root causes is implemented and the breeding ground of terrorism is eliminated. While developing a global united front against terrorism, we must also cut off their financing channels and root out their propaganda on the Internet.
China advocates equal dialogue and harmonious co-existence among different religions and civilizations and opposes linking terrorism to any specific ethnic group or religion. I myself grew up in a Chinese Muslim community and have many Muslim friends. I am convinced that Islam is a religion for peace and goodness and against the evil. Some groups misuse and abuse Islamic teachings by advocating extremism. The Chinese government is determined to protect the lawful, stop the illegal, contain the extreme, resist the infiltration and crack down on the crimes.
In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, my hometown, the government protects freedom of religious belief in accordance with laws, respects believers’ customs, helps improving access to basic religious knowledge and nurtures patriotism within the clergy. For those brainwashed with extremist thoughts, vocational skills education and training are provided so that they are enabled to both distinguish the right from the wrong and develop an income-generating skill. This in our view is counter-terrorism by prevention.

Liu Jinsong is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

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