however, it ollows a dierent mantra rom the establishedWestern powers: nonintererence in the internal aairs o states and respect or national sovereignty. In a world o spreading democracy, China is demonstrating that thereis another way to develop into a global power, a way withChinese characteristics.
What Kind of Power Will China Be?
columnist Martin Wol recently suggestedthat China could best rule the world by becoming more“western.” “It would be best achieved via urther develop-ment o the rules-governed, institutionally based globalsystem. Te obvious alternative would be a hierarchicalarrangement, with China at the apex. But such an approachwould, I ear, lead to unmanageable conicts with the othergreat powers.”
While desirable, this may simply be wishulthinking. Martin Jacques, in his bestselling book,
WhenChina Rules the World
argued that the Communist Party o China is a logical continuation o Chinese imperial regimesand that Chinese authoritarianism is not at risk or the ore-seeable uture.
Tis suggests that Chinese power is unlikely to abide by Western, liberal, capitalist rules.Although states will be able to develop their own politicaland economic systems without risking a diminution o Chinese patronage, the Chinese model will nonethelesspresent several challenges to the international system.Although China may not interere in the internal aairs o sovereign states, it will demand complete obedience romstates within its circle o power. Further, the primacy o the private sector and the market will be subordinated toChina’s state-empowered corporations, an extension o itspolitical strategy.
Beijing’s Vulnerabilities at Home
Although China is already challenging several longstandingglobal rules set by the West, a number o actors suggest thatit is unlikely to become a global hegemon, even as its inu-ence grows. China is—at its core—ragile, and oen demon-strably nervous that its vulnerabilities could be exploitedby countervailing powers. Beijing remains convinced thatthe Communist regime’s legitimacy can only be maintainedby high economic growth which, in turn, guarantees social
Martin Wolf, “How China Should Rule the World,” Financial Times, March 22, 2011.
When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and theBirth of a New Global Order
(New York: Penguin Press, 2009).
stability at home. Since the survival and longevity o theCommunist regime in China are paramount, Beijing willdo much to ensure that high economic growth rates aremaintained. It has thereore set itsel the goal o continued7 percent growth spurred by greater consumption, thecreation o 45 million more jobs, and the construction o 36million more homes.Te target rate o 7 percent growth, lower than the approxi-mately 10 percent growth that China has been experiencing,marks an acknowledgment that growth will slow. Tereare also concerns that China is particularly vulnerableto external shocks. Its aging population may hasten itseconomic slowdown, as will rising ination. While in neigh-boring India, popular anger over ination could lead tochanges in government at the state or ederal level, in Chinait could potentially result in massive social instability. Teear o such instability, uelled by a long history o violentinsurrection in Chinese society, will continue to motivatethe Chinese government to take decisions that may be inline with Chinese perceptions, but not necessarily withWestern preerences. However, Indian observers o Chinaare more optimistic than their Western counterparts aboutthe ability o China to weather economic shocks.A urther cause o China’s perceived ragility is Beijing’sseemingly irrational reactions to possible democratic orpopular protests at home. As authoritarian regimes in theMiddle East continue to experience perhaps the greatestpolitical upheaval in their recent histories, China’s nervous-ness is palpable. Going orward, this vulnerability couldbe exploited to China’s detriment, as was witnessed withthe awarding o the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo andollowing an anonymous Internet call or a “walking”protest in Beijing that resulted in heavy-handed repression.Both episodes exposed obvious Chinese vulnerabilities.
China is—at its core—fragile, andoften demonstrably nervous that its vulnerabilities could beexploited by countervailing powers.