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Will China Rule the World? A View from New Delhi

Will China Rule the World? A View from New Delhi

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This policy brief, written for the Spring 2011 India Forum, looks at China's rise from an Asian perspective.
This policy brief, written for the Spring 2011 India Forum, looks at China's rise from an Asian perspective.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Jun 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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: It may be tempting inlight of China’s growing powerand reach to imagine a worldin which China is dominant.Although China’s policies of noninterference might seemappealing to many developing countries, its demands forobedience and its state-ledgrowth will threaten the liberalcapitalist order advanced by theWest. China’s growth also masksits continuing vulnerability toeconomic shocks, social insta-bility, and ethnic separatism.Internationally, China will see itsambitions constrained by rising powers along its periphery, theUnited States’ continuing pres-ence in Asia, and its support forfailing states such as Pakistanand North Korea.
India Forum
Paper Series
China is on a blitzkrieg in Arica.Building everything rom spankingnew airport terminals in Dar-es-Salaam to the headquarters o theArican Union in Addis Ababa and oilreneries in Sudan, China is makingimpressive and convincing state-ments o its power and potential. Itsalmost insatiable quest or resourcescombined with its deep pockets hashelped spread Chinese power across acontinent that needs every dollar it canget. For many Aricans, the Chinesestyle o cooperation is innitely pre-erable to the Western variety. Boththe United States and Europe extendhomilies that Arica has heard oryears without them making a dier-ence. China, by contrast, is putting itsmoney where it matters, into buildinginrastructure. With little regard orhow Arican regimes treat their ownpeople or whether they are agrantly abusing human rights, China isbuilding power.China’s power strategy is not justrelegated to Arica, but is stunningboth in its conception and in its reach.Across Asia and into Europe, China isbuilding inrastructure on a massivescale, aiming to secure its position as
Will China Rule the World?A View from New Delhi
by Indrani Bagchi 
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 683 2650F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
June 2011
the ulcrum o the global economy ordecades to come. Beijing has plans inplace or transcontinental high-speedrail lines spanning 17 countries. Tesewould ollow three main routes: asouthern route connecting Kunmingin southwest China with Singaporepassing through Burma, Vietnam,Cambodia, Tailand, and Malaysia;a western route connecting Urumqiin northwest China to Germany andFrance, passing through Kazakhstan,Uzbekistan, urkmenistan, Pakistan,Iran, and urkey; and a northern routeconnecting Heilongjiang in northeastChina with south-eastern Europethrough Russia. By building a trans-continental inrastructure network,Beijing is eectively redrawing themap o Eurasia.For many states caught in this world,between a receding West and a risingChina, there is little contest. Chinaas the world’s next superpower is nolonger a matter o debate: it is theworld’s largest exporter, has the largestoreign exchange reserves (about athird o the world’s total), enjoys one o the highest savings rates in the world,and is developing technological skillsat a rapid pace. In its oreign relations,
India Forum
Paper Series
however, it ollows a dierent mantra rom the establishedWestern powers: nonintererence in the internal aairs 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?
Financial Times
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 conicts with the othergreat powers.”
While desirable, this may simply be wishulthinking. 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 interere in the internal aairs 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 toChinas 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 inu-ence grows. China is—at its core—ragile, and oen 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.
Martin Jacques,
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 thereore 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 ination. While in neigh-boring India, popular anger over ination could lead tochanges in government at the state or ederal level, in Chinait could potentially result in massive social instability. Teear 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 preerences. However, Indian observers o Chinaare more optimistic than their Western counterparts aboutthe ability o China to weather economic shocks.A urther cause o Chinas 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 Chinas detriment, as was witnessed withthe awarding o the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo andollowing 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.

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