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"China has deviated from Deng Xiaopings maxim of Hide brightness nourish

obscurity." Assess this view.


Since Chinas opening up in 1978, to pacify fears over a rising China which may be
seen as a hostile force to certain countries, China as already stuck to the maxim of
Hide brightness nourish obscurity as the rite of passage to grow economically. While
Beijings conduct so far has for the most part been true to this maxim, as China
becomes more economic interest expands, it is difficult for them not to be more
assertive at securing their expanding interests overseas and hence attract more
attention and perhaps even opposition. Nevertheless, this essay seeks to argue that
Chinese conduct in the international sphere is still rather similar to this maxim that
they have believed in because in spite of the occasionally slips whether China goes
out of its way to assert its stand, China still cloaks its development with secrecy.
China has not deviated away from the maxim because it is the most realistic path
that could direct a developing China to global greatness, while stirring the least
opposition. To attain great power status, China needs to maintain peaceful
international conditions that enable it to focus on domestic development. Chinese
leaders from Deng to Xi have repeated stressed Beijing commitment to Peaceful
Development that China would not become a hegemonic power even as it turns
stronger. China focus on aggressive economic reforms has result its adoption of
peace and development as central themes of diplomacy. Peace and stability
facilitate progress in economic diplomacy by opening up markets and attracting
investments. China continues to concentrate on improving relations, engaging in
constructive dialogue, normalizing and managing of historical issues with other
countries. The Chinese leaders want to improve Chinas image in the international
community such that it can become a great power.
However, when the doctrine contradicts their need to assert territorial claims, China
would not always abide by the maxim. China has demonstrated her assertiveness in
the global search for natural resources and energy needs by fiercely contesting for
territories rich in energy around her periphery even though they have always and
for a long time not been part of Chinas domestic concern. From the Spratly Islands
in the South China Sea with Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Philippines to the
Senkaku Islands or Diaoyutai with Japan in the East China Sea, China has involved
itself in a range of conflicts over territories with its neighbor to acquire energy. For
fear that Taiwan may declare independence with the support of the US, Beijing has
issued war threat to Taiwan.
Adherence to the maxim has allowed China to gain more strategically as it
advocates peaceful negotiations over armed conflicts in its dealings with other
countries. China is aware that handling of territorial claims will affect is international
credibility. Hence, Chinas conduct of foreign policy alternates between heavy and
soft approaches. China has consistently rejected armed intervention in the affairs of
other states. Beijing has repeated affirmed its no-first use pledge on nuclear
weapons. Except battles against Vietnamese up till 1988, which to the Chinese are
for self defense, Beijing advocated negotiations over military confrontation in all
in territorial disputes. Beijing has diffused potential armed tensions with Southeast
Asia through the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN.

However, as Chinas overseas interests expand, the Maxim is becoming increasingly


difficult to abide by. Given the need to strengthen legitimacy via sustaining
economic growth, in search for energy, China inadvertently would have to compete
with major powers over energy resources, which is also vital for their economic
development. As such, Chinas entrance into the crude oil market in the Middle East
whichwas traditionally US dominated had also incurred the irritation of the West.
Due to the vested-interest, PLA has repeatedly incurred the borders of India over
the Himalayas. China has a nine-dotted claim over South China Sea. China
persistently refused to resolve its dispute over territories in the East and South
China Seas through arbitration at the International Court of Justice. Pragmatic
nationalism used by authorities used by the authority for unity sometimes also
backfire with over-enthusiastic people, poor and angry people or separatist
movements going overboard.
Furthermore, adherence to the maxim safeguards Chinas international image from
further foreign criticism. Due to certain economic interest, the Chinese need to ally
with countries that are inherently politically unstable, including rogue states such as
Myanmar and North Korea, which protects its flank. However, such alliances actually
allude to the China of post Tiannanmen period and together with it fears over a
rising China. Chinas previous strategy to safeguard Chinas territorial integrity over
the Taiwan Issue is also unpopular. Chinas consistently spectacular increase in
Chinas defense spending has helped decrease everything but fears over the China
Threat Theory.
However, in order to present itself as a responsible member of the global
community, the Chinese would sometimes betray their Maxim too. China has
participated actively in the 6-party talks involving South and North Korea, the USA,
Japan and Russia, in bid to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. In October 2009,
Premier Wen visited North Korea in hope to dissuade North Korea from continuing its
nuclear programs. In 2009, China also agreed to economically sanction North Korea.
In conclusion, Beijings conduct so far has for the most part been true to this
maxim. However, as China becomes more economic interest expands, it is difficult
for them not to be more assertive at securing their expanding interests overseas
and hence attract more attention and perhaps even opposition. Nonetheless,
Chinese conduct in the international sphere is still rather similar to this maxim that
they have believed in because in spite of the occasionally slips whether China goes
out of its way to assert its stand, China still cloaks its development with secrecy.