[Viewpoint] China’s universal responsibilityThe People’s Republic of China’s position in the international arena is expanding to the level of a superpower.
Even the United States seems to define China as its strategic competitor in world affairs.
Regardless of different approaches to intercept the rapid rise of China, engagement advocates argue that it could be neutralized by incentives to join regional and global society.
The notion of interdependence with Beijing could reduce tensions among its relatively weak neighbors such as Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and so on.
China’s economic and military power is increasing with sustained economic growth, a trend that looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Looking into the East Asian region, particularly Northeast Asia, China faces many challenges.
One of them is that other states might also qualify as great powers in the future: Japan and Indonesia have more than 100 million people each, and Australia and Russia have significant tracts of territory.
Another challenge is that neighboring nations such as the two Koreas have developed different approaches toward China because of different interests.
In addition, Taiwan (the Republic of China) is still trying to reconcile politically with the People’s Republic of China; Japan has a tradition of independence from and rivalry with China; Indonesia is wary of Beijing, especially over its influence on the issue of Korean unification.
What is important, in this context, is how China will cope with all the responsibilities and burdens that have been imposed on it as a consequence of becoming a responsible superpower on the world stage.
In light of these challenges, I would like to recommend two cases that Beijing should consider when designing its future foreign policy.
The first is how China should deal with North Korea, especially in the six-party framework. My suggestion is that China has to fall in line with the United Nations Security Council regarding measures that the international community should impose on North Korea for its brinkmanship such as the recent rocket launch and, possibly, further nuclear tests.
For the successful implementation of the six-party agreements, Beijing should also warn North Korea against continuing misbehavior.
As long as Beijing continues to adopt a vague attitude toward North Korea and holds back from condemning it over its conduct, China is in effect working behind the scenes in support of North Korea, thus making international sanctions, to a great extent, useless.
The other case I would like to mention concerns Taiwan becoming a full member of the World Health Organization.
As we all know Taiwan has been seeking participation in the WHO since 1997 and has consistently held observer status at the World Health Assembly as an important goal.
Many other countries such the United States, Japan, the European Union and Canada recognize the need to include Taiwan in the global health network.
Seen from the perspective of universal humanism, Taiwan must be accepted in the WHO setup with full participation if it is to ensure the highest attainable standard of health for all its citizens. Beijing should not hesitate to recognize Taiwan’s attainment of WHO membership to help strengthen the global health system. These two cases will be the litmus test for whether China will be behaving in such a way to fully embrace universal humanism apart from its political calculations of its future.
I strongly hope that Beijing will more willingly follow the already agreed upon international conventional regimes and accepted universalism.
*The writer is honorary consul of East Timor in Korea and secretary general of Democratic Pacific Union, Korea Chapter.
by Park Tae-woo