China is a fast emerging economic superpower whose foreign policy and strategic thinking are highly influential. The People’s Republic of China tends to pursue an independent foreign policy of peace. The rise of China is an automatic big threat to the United States and even Japan, which strives to become a leader of Asia. Chinese-U.S. relations, commonly referred to as Sino-American relations, have always been described as the most significant bilateral relationship of the century, especially because these countries regard themselves as potential enemies.
As China continues its upward growth, the most persuasive view about its consequences reveals that a breakout, containment, confrontation, and Cold War are likely to take place. Despite the existing Sino-U.S. relations, it would be difficult for the U.S. to accept superiority of China. Therefore, it would likely blend forces with nations, such as Japan, to engage China in a Cold War and try to stop its growth. Thesis: The rise of China can affect Sino-U.S. relations negatively because the U.S. still believes it needs to rule the world economically as a superpower.
China’s Foreign Policy and the U.S.-China Relations
One of the most persuasive views states that breakout, containment, confrontation, and Cold War are likely to happen between the existing China’s foreign policy and the U.S.-China relations. It is worth noting that China is not going to stop its military growth because it is focused on finding itself as the world’s only superpower. Global superiority is accompanied by a military strength, and China will not stop moving in this direction at any given time. Therefore, due to the fear of the military growth of China, such neighbors as Japan would consider it a threat.
The U.S. would also consider it a threat because of the fact that it wants to remain in charge of the world. Hence, they will rally together to ensure that the runaway growth of China is contained through a formidable alliance composed of primarily the U.S and Japan, as the key adversaries of China. The U.S. will only benefit if Japan becomes its loyal ally. John Mearsheimer provides critical evidence for probability of this scenario by emphasizing that the impressive growth of China will not be peaceful at all because of the stiff competition with the United States, which would be a potential cause of war.
Explaining this point, Mearsheimer draws on the theory of growth of the mightiest states and their focus on maintaining their position. Thus, China will not accept to be contained because of its military growth. It would lead to a Cold War, escalating tensions with neighbors, such as Japan and the United States.
The second most persuasive view concerning the future of foreign policy of China and its relations with the U.S. considers a probability of peaceful rise and engagement. This implies that the development of China would be peaceful. In this case, both the U.S. and China would persevere on the path of peaceful development. However, despite an unaggressive denouement, they would remain two great countries, and the U.S. would try to engage China as another key power that the world needs for its growth. The reason for ranking this view as the second persuasive event is that the era of wars between countries seems to be a survival of times past.
The world would only require peace, and both China and the U.S. will adhere to this path. In fact, peaceful rise and engagement will be relevant solutions in the future because there is an apparent need to avoid any other Cold Wars. The U.S. would also be relieved of the burden it bears as the only recognizable superpower, and would obviously be willing to engage China in the process. Henry Kissinger gives clear evidence for this event by insisting that the relationship between China and the United States is anchored by ambiguity, as both parties tend to agree on having good relations with Beijing and Washington.
It determines a likelihood of peaceful rise of Japan and willingness of the U.S. to continually engage China in its growth process. Even as the growth of China threatens the U.S. security, a peace should be maintained between them, which might be essentially supported by neighbors such as South Korea and Japan.
The third persuasive view about Sino-US relations development in the future is G-2. The continuous growth of China would automatically be unstoppable even through containment. The U.S. will have no other choice but to compromise its own position and engage China in its affairs, probably even offering it an equal share in the bipolar international order. The reason for this is that there would be mutual respect between China and the U.S. as the shapers of the world economic order. For instance, Fred Bergsten supports this view, asserting that China is the newest member of the global world pillar, which is growing at the quickest rate possible; thus, it should be deeply integrated into the global economy.
The U.S. would appreciate the view that China is rising at the fastest rate possible, and would continuously engage it as an equal ally in the course of shaping global economic order. John Kerry’s call for a ‘special’ relationship with China also evidences the persuasiveness of this view. Similar to the U.S.-U.K, and U.S.-Israel “special relationships”, the U.S. would continuously engage China as a great power that is rising at the highest possible speed. Thus, a particular reason behind G-2 is that the U.S would drop its reservations associated with the growth of China and view it as an equal in influencing the world economy. A mutual respect between these countries will give China an opportunity to grow without interference.
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The fourth view about an event that is likely to happen in the future with China’s foreign policy and Sino-American relations is the emergence of spheres of influence. Since American and Chinese cultures are very different, engagement will be a big challenge. More so, containment will not be possible because of the U.S. overextension. The spheres of influence would be declared based on the U.S interests, as it should consider taking over the Western Pacific and leaving at least the East, Northeast, South, Central, or Southeast Asia to China.
The key reason for this is that both China and the U.S. would need to work with countries that have some cultural compatibility as superpowers. It is evident from the discussion by Samuel P. Huntington that the new world order is characterized by a clash of civilizations. The high level of globalization is not likely to stop cultural differences that are inherent in human beings. As China grows significantly, it would be difficult for the U.S. to engage it because of these cultural rivalries, as pointed out by Huntington.
Kaplan adds a view to this discussion, pointing out the idea that China’s geographical expansion should not extend very far because it has the potential of destabilizing the world’s freedom. Thus, the U.S should react by continuously ruling the Western front, leaving the Central Asia to China as a growing power. Cultural differences should be recognized as significant determinants of the current world order and its direction toward the attainment of the set goals.
The fifth persuasive view about an event that is likely to occur in the changing Chinese foreign policy would be an emergence of China as the ruler of the world. Since the chances that the U.S. will relinquish its position as the ruler of the world become minimal, there is a high possibility that China will take over the position of a global leader. The continued growth of China will force the U.S to respect and approve of China’s position as the world leader in both economic and military matters. The reason for this is that at times, the U.S. is badly influenced by recessions and China seems to be an inevitable force with high chances to become the superpower.
This is evidenced by Arvind Subramanian’s assertion that governments with financial troubles tend to rush to the IMF for a bailout, but they are forced to work under strict conditions. Apparently, the U.S. made it difficult for countries in Asia, Africa, and the UK to access funding in the past, and the reactions to this impediment have not been friendly. Therefore, they are likely to withdraw their support for the U.S. and give it to China. It means that China will become an inevitable superpower and the U.S. will be left with no option, but to relinquish the number one spot in global affairs. The common phrase “Looking East” will be more common for countries who think China is friendlier in terms of offering the required support in cases of crises. It is worth agreeing with Tammen that the U.S. risks losing its position as the superpower to an upcoming China because of the level of favor it finds at the global stage.
The sixth view in terms of rank will be democracy from below. It is evident that the current regime is quite rigid and cannot easily accommodate democratic reforms or sustainable growth. Therefore, a revolution might be in the offing to ensure that a democratic dispensation is attained in China while, at the same time, sustainable growth is realized. The U.S. and the rest of the world will not hesitate to support the regime change from below. The reason for ranking this view as the sixth probability is that China needs a significant change in terms of its democratic structures.
Moreover, there will be a massive reaction from its internal revolutionists who will seek the support from the U.S. and other countries to overthrow the existing framework. However, it would be advisable for the U.S. to refrain from such happenings in order to promote a peaceful revolution. Gilley evidences the occurrence of the future democracy of China in terms of the actions that would be taken by revolutionists. He states that the revolution will not be an easy one, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would not have an option, but to accept the wave of democracy for it to survive.
The clamor for democracy in China means that this event is likely to occur, though it still has minimal chances. The result of this event would be slowed growth on the part of China because no country can grow in parallel with a revolution. The United States could watch this happening from the sidelines because China is an independent country that needs to work in line with its own autonomy even as it looks to conform to the third wave of democratization.
The seventh view about an event that is likely to happen is democracy from above. In instances of crisis, reformist elements of the communist regime would pay keen attention to the implementation of democratic reforms. The U.S. and other global countries are likely to react to the situation by supporting democratic reforms without necessarily interfering with China. It is not appropriate to see the fall of China in the course of its growth into a superpower. It is quite impossible that the current Chinese regime will be unable to deal with this because not only capitalist societies not necessarily attain the required levels of democracy.
Eric X. Li disputes the need for a democratic dispensation in China by exuding confidence in its significance in leading to a better China. The current Chinese regime will not have difficulties dealing with the system due to the lack of the U.S. involvement in the democracy from above. According to Li’s opinion, China will remain firm as an emerging superpower and will not collapse. The democracy from above would represent a positive trend for the Chinese regime and would obviously endorse the current regime. It will give China the necessary opportunity for growth and development as a country, and would put it on the global map as a leader. By giving China space, the U.S. would treat it as an equal, giving it a flexibility and increased chances of becoming a superpower.
The eighth view about China’s future as a global economy revolves around militarist nationalism, as the current regime runs into a crisis. The new regime would try to embrace populist, nationalist, militarist, and expansionist ideologies, trying to move the country forward. Shirk proves this view by stating that the Chinese current leaders are afraid that their days of being in leadership are numbered. The fragility of the current regime also makes it difficult to sustain a military nationalism with the incoming regime, which is more populist and militarist.
Chinese people will support a new dispensation as much as they are portrayed arrogant by Ye Hailin due to their country’s rising growth. There would be an easy opportunity for increased militarism due to the arrogance of Chinese citizens and their contemptuous perception of Seoul and Tokyo. Moreover, it can result in the inability to deal with it, especially if these countries are to support a new dispensation in the growth of China’s democracy. Shirk further emphasizes that as much as its diplomats try to portray it as a good global citizen and regional neighbor, it faces an aggressive persona, which lies in the public. However, it is less likely to happen because citizens tend to believe in their own regime nowadays.
The last persuasive view about a global event that could happen is the collapse of China and its emergence as a failed state. The understanding that China has not been able to deal with regime failures would be the least likely event to happen because this country is in the pursuit of its growth and global influence through foreign policy and its relationship with the United States. The current Chinese regime cannot be compared to the fallen regimes as it has established itself as an economic and military superpower.
Since it has empowered its citizens to support the country’s growth, it would not easily collapse at any given time. Cheng Dingding supports this view with the assertion that China is not going to collapse at any given point because Chinese society would not be easily disrupted by a financial meltdown or slowed growth. More so, a severe economic crisis will not make China collapse as a country because its people are more integrated and supportive of the regime. Therefore, America should not expect this to happen.
In conclusion, the rise of China has not been received well by countries, such as America, and even its neighbors, such as Japan. They have perceived it a threat to their domination in global affairs because of China’s expansion in the world. Therefore, the most likely events to happen are the containment of China and another Cold War because the U.S. automatically wants to remain in charge of the world. Nevertheless, China will not fall as a country because its own society is integrated, being able to deal with failures brought about by economic challenges. The fundamental thing that should be appreciated is that China is confidently moving in the right direction in order to hold an indisputable position as the global leader in the future.