China’s rapid economic growth over 30 years, combined with its military build-up, has made it Asia’s strongest power. After centuries of dominance by powers outside Asia or on its periphery – Russia, Britain, the US and Japan – China is reasserting the sway it held for most of its history and is exerting pressure in new areas, as in Sri Lanka.The interesting thing about it, as the friend who sent it to me and I discussed in a back-and-forth email series, is what her choice of Germany means. Is it a signal to Beijing (this is where we're headed!) or to the world (give us our lebensraum, dammit!). Is it all there on the surface, or is there another message? Note that it lives in a world of victimhood -- it is China's rising power that makes everyone nervous, not China's aggressive, belligerent, expansionist attitudes. The sun is setting on "centuries" of western interference in China. You know the drill.
Leaders in Beijing will need to become foreign-policy jugglers as they seek to prevent regional coalitions to keep China in check, maintain tolerably amicable relations with the US and develop an “Ostpolitik” to keep smaller neighbours – such as members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations – happy.
This juggling act is reminiscent of that required of Otto von Bismarck, the 19th century’s master diplomat-conjuror, after he united Germany. Bismarck strove ruthlessly to achieve unification and what he considered Prussia’s rightful place among the great powers. Having achieved these aims, he sought to preserve a new European equilibrium through prudence and restraint. But Germany had so mobilised its resources and nationalist sentiments that it terrified its neighbours. Soon, Bismarck was speaking of “the nightmare of hostile coalitions”. For all his efforts, it was a nightmare that would come true.
China’s dilemma is that, like Bismarck’s Germany, it surpasses in power all its neighbours combined (save for Russia with respect to its nuclear arsenal). To avoid the fate of the Second Reich, China must recognise and publicly accept that it is no longer a developing country but a global power with responsibilities that extend beyond its immediate national interests. It will need to explain its actions and factor other countries’ interests into its policies.
Another piece of hers argues that China is worried about creating stability on its borders. Again no mention of the fact that so much instability is due to Chinese interference and aggression. And that one contains some truly loony claims....
From China's standpoint, however, the Soviet collapse was the greatest strategic gain imaginable. At a stroke, the empire that had gobbled up Chinese territories for centuries vanished.Have fun interpreting these....
it has now demonstrated its strategic effectiveness in a region traditionally outside its orbit. On Sri Lanka's beachfront battlefields, China's "peaceful rise" was completed.
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