Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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Chinese – Zhōngguó de juéqǐ

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Chinese, Rise of China

中國的崛起 (中国的崛起)

Zhōngguó de juéqǐ

Relates to the ‘Rise of China’

The term is composed of following Chinese characters:

中國 (中国) – Zhōngguó – China

的 (的) – de – possessive case

中国的 – Zhōngguó de – China’s, of China

崛 (崛) – jué – Rise high; stands out[1]

起 (起) – – Rise or get up; start[2]

崛起 (崛起) – juéqǐ – Rise high; develop; spring up[3]


Zhōngguó de juéqǐ’ came into use after China showed significant economic progress and development following economic reforms initiated in 1979. The term refers to China’s achievements in economic development, one result of which is the increase in social welfare through the reduction of poverty. This economic development also earns China status and influence in the international community. Zhōngguó de juéqǐ is a phenomenon that appeals to both the Chinese government and the Chinese people. For example, it is said that ‘The great achievements that China has earned from reform and opening up to the world during the last three decades is the marvel of the entire world. Everywhere, from Vietnam to Brazil, from Moscow to Brussels, from the Northern American mainland to the grasslands of Africa, there is discussion of China’s affluence. There is surprise at the speed of China’s rise and there are strong feelings about the prospects of China’s future development.’[4] It invokes China’s self-confidence in its economic strength, and also its competency in playing a role on the international stage.

The idea of Zhōngguó de juéqǐ has generated two other less complementary assessments of China’s future prospects, that is, ‘the China threat’ and ‘the collapse of China’ theses. The Chinese people understand ‘the China Threat’ as referring to the view that China’s economic development will facilitate the development and improvement in China’s military capability. ‘The collapse of China’ is understood in terms of the questions raised by Western observers concerning the authority of statistics regarding China’s booming economy and prosperity as well as other serious domestic problems. Advocates of ‘the collapse of China’ view allege that China’s economy is actually growing at a far slower rate than Beijing claims, with significantly greater economic and social distortions.

The Chinese government takes pains to deny both these negative views. It states that China’s ‘juéqǐ’ (rise) is inevitable as the result of economic progress. The concept of ‘Zhōngguó de hépíng juéqǐ’ (Peaceful Rise of China) was created by Zheng Bijian, the former Chair of the China Reform Forum, to refute the negative perspectives of China. It conveys the idea that Beijing neither seeks hegemony nor attempts to assist its own development by invading other countries in the manner of rising nation-states in early European history. Zheng first introduced this concept to the international community in a speech that he delivered at the 2003 Boao Forum for Asia. In discussing China’s ‘peaceful rise’, he said Beijing is ‘determined to strive to materialise a peaceful international environment so we can develop ourselves. Also, we will use our own development to maintain the peace in the world.’[5]

Since that time, the theory of Zhōngguó de hépíng juéqǐ has become prominent both in international and in Chinese domestic discourse. It carries the idea that Beijing wishes to alleviate the concerns and doubts of other countries regarding the real intention of China’s rise. Chinese President Hu Jintao has many times made the commitment that ‘China will resolutely walk on the path of peaceful development.’[6] However, Zheng also clarified that, ‘China’s ‘peaceful rise’ and China’s ‘peaceful development’ are the same thing.’[7] The two terms, Zhōngguó de hépíng juéqǐ (the peaceful rise of China) and Zhōngguó de hépíng fāzhǎn (the peaceful development of China) are interchangeable and carry the same definition.

China does acknowledge to the international community that the country’s juéqǐ (rise) will involve the attainment of ‘comprehensive national power’, including hard and soft powers, in fields such as politics, military affairs, diplomacy, culture, education, technology, etc. The Chinese government states that a China with comprehensive national power, benefiting from its juéqǐ will have more confidence to participate on the world stage and become a responsible big country in international relations. Thus, the ‘rise of China’ offers opportunities to the world, including a contribution to peace, security and prosperity. Other countries, it suggests, should not demonise the rise of China, or so the Chinese government argues.




[1] Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary, the 5th Edition), Beijing: Commercial Press, 2006, p. 748. Hanyu Da Cidian (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words), Shanghai: Hanyu Da Cidian Press, 1995, Vol 3, p. 851.

[2] Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary, the 5th Edition), Beijing: Commercial Press, 2006, p. 1075. Hanyu Da Cidian (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words), Shanghai: Hanyu Da Cidian Press, 1996, Vol 9, p. 1085.

[3] Xiandai Hanyu Cidian (Modern Chinese Dictionary, the 5th Edition), Beijing: Commercial Press, 2006, p. 748. Hanyu Da Cidian (Comprehensive Dictionary of Chinese Words), Shanghai: Hanyu Da Cidian Press, 1995, Vol 3, p. 851.

[4] “The Rise of China; the New Three Poles of the World Economy Is Forming,”, August 3, 2009, [accessed November 2, 2009]

[5] “Zheng Bijian: The New Path of China’s Peaceful Rise and the Future of Asia,” a speech delivered at the 2003 Boao Forum for Asia, November 24, 2003, [accessed October 28, 2009]

[6] “Hu Jintao’s Speech at the Asia-Africa Summit,”, April 22, 2005, [accessed November 5, 2009] and “Hu Jintao’s Speech at the UN 60-Year Summit,”, September 16, 2005, [accessed November 5, 2009]

[7] “Zheng Bijian: ‘Peaceful Rise’ and ‘Peaceful Development’ Is the Same Thing,”, September 21, 2007, [accessed November 5, 2009]


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