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Is the world becoming more dangerous?

Updated: 2014-12-31 07:48
By Zhou Bo (China Daily)

The year 2014 was remarkable also for massive crisis management efforts by all sides. April saw 21 countries agreeing on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) at a meeting in Qingdao, Shandong province. CUES provides procedures to avoid collision such as not getting too close to any vessels in formation and maintain safe speed and distance. During US President Barack Obama's visit to China in November, Beijing and Washington announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the two countries' militaries on the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters. A similar maritime liaison mechanism is being negotiated between China and Japan. The merit of CUES and the MOU is that they are tailor-made for officers, sailors and airmen at operational levels, the ones who have to deal with one another every day, sometimes in dangerous situations.

So, what will the world look like in 2015? Will it signal the beginning of more disorder? Is the IS an international threat or just a regional threat? Who will blink first, Russia or the West? Will Afghanistan become better or worse after the withdrawal of all NATO combat troops by the end of this month? Finally, if indeed the US is in relative decline and China is rising, how can the latter help make the world a safer place?

There are no easy answers to these questions. But one thing is for certain, a stronger China will be more actively involved in world affairs. In the 2014 Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang said China is a responsible power, and it will actively participate in international multilateral affairs and play a constructive role in global issues and hot issues. This is the first time that "responsible power" has been mentioned in the Government Work Report. Besides, the People's Liberation Army's presence is being felt in the other parts of the world as never before. Its international involvement is becoming frequent and sophisticated, from joint exercises, counter-piracy to peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and fighting the Ebola virus in Africa. China certainly doesn't look like a free-rider, as Obama once claimed.

The world has always been unstable and unpredictable, but the right way of describing a glass half full with water is: the glass is half full and half empty. The world is not necessarily getting more dangerous.

The author is an honorary fellow with Center of China-American Defense Relations, Academy of Military Science.

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