Hoping for a successful ceremonyChina’s Victory Day ceremony will be held in Beijing on Thursday. The event, which President Park Geun-hye has decided to attend after much consideration, attracts a great deal of attention from the rest of the world. Ahead of her trip, we cannot but think what China means to us and what status it has in the world today.
It boils down to whether China can show mature leadership befitting its G-2 status, not to rhetoric such as a “responsible major power.” We expect China to prove its raison d’etre through actions contributing to the peace and prosperity of the international community. It also hinges on whether China will move toward an open country with universal values by relinquishing its domineering posture and accepting equal partnership with its neighbors.
Unfortunately, China appears to have double standards in its relations with other countries. Despite its reconciliatory moves, neighbors still harbor strong suspicion over its hegemony. Beijing resorted to a show of force in the South China Sea after brazenly dismissing claims of Southeast Asian countries, while pushing the standoff with Japan over the Senkaku (or Diaoyu in China) Islands in the East China Sea to the brink of war. China also took a hegemonic approach to the Korean Peninsula through the aggressive Northeast Asian Project.
China plans to mobilize 12,000 soldiers for the military parade. The gargantuan demonstration of military power seven decades after the founding of the People’s Liberation Army could serve as a stepping stone for another leap forward. But the ceremony must not serve as a venue to show off China’s ever-growing military might. As expected, leaders of the Western world have refused China’s invitations out of strong repulsion towards the military parade led by cutting-edge weapons like Dongfeng missiles, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
China must prioritize dialogue, not confrontation. Instead of rivaling with Western countries, it needs to use the event to present a new world order based on coexistence and co-prosperity. At the same time, Beijing would be wise to improve its relations with Japan, a core partner in Northeast Asia. Above all, China must take a positive role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue. We hope Chinese President Xi Jinping will urge North Korea to take a path of denuclearization at a summit with President Park and agree to a Korea-China-Japan summit in Seoul this year. In that case, the Beijing ceremony will prove an effective stage for China to pursue peace and co-prosperity rather than confrontation.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 31, Page 30