I googled the word TGYH and found a few extremely insightful essays on the issue from China's respected strategists (plus amateur interpretations by writers such as Liu Xiaobo, who is not a strategist). Unfortunately these are mostly written in Chinese. In Part II, I will recap the key point of an excellent discussion in this link here by Xiao Dong, and another by Wang Yusheng, who in my opinion truly understand the essence of TGYH. I hope this view would help those who are worried about "China threat" to understand the implication. Even if Chinese GDP/cap is on par with the Japan, which is at least 25 to 50 years away from today, they argued that it still serves China's best interests to remain TGYH.
First, an approximate translation (with a little of my elaboration) of the synopsis of the TGYH (see link of Pillsbury's description in English for some background information) strategy, as laid out by Deng Xiaoping in early 1990s (see the end for Deng's original quote in Chinese ) -- the basic idea of Deng is to "mind our own business and be humble in world affairs"
- avoid leading or forming faction in any international conflict, stay neutral in all circumstance, "Don't stick your head out"
- do not try to lead an opinion in international politics, do not try to represent any interest group, stay away from any sphere of influence
- avoid any trouble, controversy or antagonism in world politics, be humble but try not be humiliated, and even accept minor humiliation if you have to, "yield on small issues" in every possible occasion
- concentrate on economic development
- focus on forming a friendly relationship with ALL countries in the world, irrespective of the ideology of the countries you deal with. i.e., forget the old "party ideology"
Note Deng's instruction was very specific, perhaps he feared his successors may not able to implement the strategies correctly. Note also that Deng's instructions depart from the common proverbial connotation with Guo Jian (越王勾践) and Liu Bei (刘备), which implies that being humble is a means, an indirect way to realize ambition in future (Pillsbury got it wrong here, because he failed to notice the significance of Deng's elaboration of TGYH). Deng probably needed to choose a proverb with a connotation to ambition so that his successors will be motivated to follow, and he cleverly defined his true vision in the five principles above. Deng's hope was that by the time his great grand successors are ready to think about being ambitious they would have been benefited from being humble so much that they would then recognize that TGYH should serve as the 'permanent' strategy like Xiao Dong stated in his great essay (LKY, himself a great visionary, obviously understood Deng's intention very well). Deng saw the world of his time as one 'tending towards greater relaxation' in which 'peace and development are the main themes'.
I hope the above description and links explain the TGYH strategy, the history and the present situation well enough for us to proceed to the discussions in Part II. i.e. is China a threat, or will China ever become a threat to world peace? or to US? The question that has also attracted discussion and hearing in the US Congress.
(to be continued here)
the original in the above essay copied below, other discussions can be found here and a generic search result here, where you can see the majority of opinions.
The 5 principles Deng Xiaoping instructed to the Chinese leadership for the implementation of TGYH in early 1990s as below
-- source (note the author in this source understands TGYH a bit differently)