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The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 6, 2013, 109–132 doi:10.

1093/cjip/pot003 Advance Access publication 27 February 2013

China and the US: Comparable Cases of ‘Peaceful Rise’?
Barry Buzan*y and Michael Coxy
Competing great powers, and the potential for clashes among them when there are changes of place at the top of the hierarchy, are an old story in international relations. Against this realist model of inevitably warlike power struggles stands another idea: ‘peaceful rise’. China committed itself to this policy a decade ago, and arguably adopted it as far back as the shift to reform and opening up in the late 1970s. The only other modern great power than can possibly claim to have risen peacefully is the United States. Since there are only two cases of attempted peaceful rise, it is worth asking what parallels can be drawn between the United States and Chinese experiences. Given their different placements in history, with the rise of the United States having taken place between 1865 and 1945, a century earlier than China’s current rise, what lessons, if any, can be learned for China from the United States experience? This article looks closely at both the meaning of ‘peaceful rise’ and the credibility of the United States and Chinese claims to it. It surveys the key points of similarity and difference between the United States and China during their process of rise, comparing contemporary China with the United States of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, not with today’s United States. The conclusion sets out six lessons for China and for international society that can be drawn from comparing the two cases.

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Competing great powers, and the potential for clashes among them when there are changes of place at the top of the hierarchy, are an old story in
y The authors would like to thank Luca Tardelli for research assistance, and two anonymous reviewers for CJIP for their helpful comments. Barry Buzan is Emeritus Professor at Department of International Relations in the LSE and a Fellow of the British Academy. Michael Cox is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE. He can be reached at

*Corresponding author: E-mail: ß The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

110 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox

international relations. Indeed, this story is central to the mainstream realist approach to International Relations (IR) and it comes in various forms: rising and declining great powers, hegemonic (in)stability theory, polarity theory and power transition theory, among others.1 The historical record offers a lot of support for the idea that war is a frequent accompaniment when rising powers challenge incumbent ones for the top places in the international hierarchy. France rose to power by challenging Spain and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Britain rose to power by defeating the Netherlands and France, and had to fight two challenges from Germany. Germany rose to power by defeating Austria-Hungary and France. For a time during the late 19th century Germany might have aligned with Britain against Britain’s colonial rivals France and Russia. But this possibility closed after 1898 with Germany’s decision to embark on a naval challenge to Britain. Russia rose to power in many conflicts with Sweden, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and France, and became a superpower on the back of its major role in the defeat of Germany in 1945. Japan rose to power by defeating China and Russia. Initially, Japan bandwagoned with the leading power, Britain, but their 1902 alliance arrangements broke down after the First World War, and Japan moved to a warlike rise. Most of these rising powers actively sought the wars they fought as part of their strategy for rising. For this reason it was quite common for rising powers to devote a lot of their new wealth to acquiring military strength. The general assumption of inevitable tension between, on the one side, rising powers wanting to change the status hierarchy and the rules, and on the other the established status quo ones wanting to defend them, seems plausible. This is especially so when such tensions are amplified by ideological differences, as they were throughout the ‘short’ 20th century (1914–1989). This weight of history is interpreted by some IR theorists as meaning that conflict is inevitable when challengers and incumbents meet at the top of the great power hierarchy.2 The three world wars of the 20th century (First, Second, and Cold) seem to underpin this view. Against this model of inevitably warlike power struggles stands another idea: ‘peaceful rise’. China committed itself to this policy a decade ago, and

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E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years Crisis, Michael Cox, ed., (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001 [1946]); A. F. K. Organski, World Politics (New York: Knopf, 1958); Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading MA.: Addison Wesley, 1979); Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (London: Fontana, 1989); Ronald L. Tammen, Jacek Kugler, Douglas Lemke, Carole Alsharabati and Brian Efird, eds., Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century (New York: Seven Bridges Press, 2000); William C. Wohlforth, ‘Unipolarity, Status Competition, and Great Power War’, World Politics, Vol. 61, No. 1 (2009), pp. 28–57. For example: John J. Mearsheimer, ‘Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War’, International Security, Vol. 15, No. 1 (1990), pp. 5–56; John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003).

The Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 6, 2013

Given their different placements in by guest on June 6. China might therefore still abandon peaceful rise and revert to the traditional realist formula. Section 4 does the same with the key points of difference. and remains a work in progress. Readers should keep in mind that we are comparing contemporary China with the United States of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Downloaded from http://cjip. Could it be that IR has crossed some sort of threshold. as it did with the Soviet Union on the basis of nuclear parity during the 1960s and 70s. might India be the third great power in a sequence of peaceful rise? For the purposes of this comparison we will take the period of United States rise as running from 1865 (the end of the Civil War) to 1945 (its emergence as the pre-eminent world power). Section 3 surveys the key points of similarity between the United States and China during their process of rise.China and the US 111 arguably adopted it as far back as the shift to reform and opening up in the late 1970s. Vol. The United States therefore presents a complete case study with a well-defined end point after which the United States is definitely ‘risen’ rather than ‘rising’. not with today’s United States. the incumbent hegemonic power that China is trying to rise peacefully against is the United States: the only other case of peaceful rise. If it stays the course. exactly. The concluding section sets out the lessons for China and for international society that can be drawn from comparing the two cases. it is worth asking what parallels can be drawn between the United States and Chinese experiences. what lessons.oxfordjournals. Since there are only two cases of attempted peaceful rise. 2013 . the question arises as to when. 2013 Interpreting ‘Peaceful Rise’ and the United States and Chinese Cases We use the label ‘peaceful rise’ because it is a more accurate statement of the issues than the more anodyne and diplomatic ‘peaceful development’. China’s rise is happening now. and by what criteria. should peaceful rise be defined? What criteria need to be met for the rise of a great power into the top ranks to count as peaceful? The Chinese Journal of International Politics. if any. leaving behind the realist history and opening up something new? Looking ahead. China’s peaceful rise begins in 1978 with the big turn in policy to reform and opening up. Firstly. and its success or failure is therefore of enormous interest and importance to contemporary world politics. But how. The only other great power than can possibly claim to have risen peacefully is the United States. we might think of China as having moved from ‘rising’ to ‘risen’. 6. The next section looks more closely at both the meaning of ‘peaceful rise’ and the credibility of United States and Chinese claims to it. can be learned for China from the US experience? These questions are made more interesting by two other factors. One possible benchmark for this would be acceptance by the United States of China as a peer. And secondly.

Vol.4 From the late 19th century onward. one writer has even talked of the United States during the 19th century as being a most ‘dangerous nation’ becoming involved in some early clashes with Britain (and Canada) before and after independence. Journal of Peace Research. a highly interventionist power in relationship to Central and Latin America. 3/4 (1964). we might thus say that the minimum condition for peaceful rise is that a growing power is able to make both absolute and relative gains in both its material and its status positions. pp. by guest on June 6. which says it wants to achieve it during the 21st. Feng Yongping. and warm or positive peaceful rise (a friendly environment with a low sense of threat).112 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox As Buzan drawing on Galtung. 167–91. Robert Kagan. cold or negative peaceful rise (no great power war. 1 (2006). With the realist criteria in mind. 2013 . which arguably achieved it during the 20th century. Johan Galtung. 2006). Peace and Peace Research’. In this sense the United States had the good fortune to 3 Downloaded from http://cjip. Journal of Peace Research. ‘Foreign Policy Opinion as a Function of Social Position’. 6. when the United States was becoming the biggest great power in the system. 1. in relation to the other great powers in the international system without precipitating major hostilities between itself and other great powers. 6. 83–108. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. 3 (1969). Chinese Journal of International Politics. No. Vol. No. its relations with Britain were good enough to qualify for a warm peaceful rise. Guoji zhengzhi yanjiu (International Politics Quarterly). No. No. one can think about this in terms of three models: warlike rise (meeting the realist expectations of the rising power precipitating a great power war). ‘Violence. This suggests two general models for peaceful rise: cold and warm. Vol. The rise of the United States was moreover much facilitated by the First and Second World Wars in both of which the United States was a late and reluctant entrant but a major beneficiary of the peace settlement. and remains still. and China. but an environment of threat and suspicion). 2013 4 5 Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen. and it might be objected that the rise of the United States in a wider sense was hardly peaceful. and during the 19th century wars against Mexico and Spain. The empirical plausibility of peaceful rise rests on two cases: the United States. ‘Reflections on the Discussion: The Evolution of International Security Studies and Non-Traditional Security Studies in China’. Dangerous Nation: America’s Foreign Policy from the Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century (New York: Knopf. Britain. 1 (2012). wars against the native peoples of North America. pp. without going to war with it during the period of power transition. while at the same time other great powers accommodate some changes in those rules and structures by way of adjusting to the new disposition of power and status. Peaceful rise involves a two-way process in which the rising power accommodates itself to the rules and structures of international society. pp. The United States is the only great power that has attempted and accomplished peaceful rise by succeeding in replacing the hegemon. 1.oxfordjournals. But this is not the whole picture.5 Rising America also was. Johan Galtung. 49–62. ‘The Peaceful Transition of Power from the UK to the US’.3 argues. 206–31. In fact. pp.

pdf. 190 (2007). Discussion Paper 42. It by guest on June 6. 6. China’s leadership decided that the country needed to modernize.China and the US 113 be the big winner in great power wars started by others. In relation to Britain as the reigning hegemon. and the Caribbean its rise was a mixture of warlike. which did challenge Britain and precipitate great power wars. 3042-3201.6 We are left. it rose (as we shall see later) in concert with—and at key points in alliance—with Britain and the British. ‘Public Discourse on the ‘‘PeacefulRise’’ Concept in Mainland China’. What about the case of China? China began its own peaceful rise after having adopted its policy of economic reform at home while opening up to the West in the late 1970s and early 1980s. University of Nottingham. long before Churchill officially referred to the relationship as being distinct and special after the Second World War. 2006. 291–310. In relation to its neighbours the picture is again mixed. it had in fact already become so. and sided in both cases with Britain. joined them very late. The United States record thus raises some difficult questions for defining a rise as peaceful or not. But from the perspective of its neighbours to the south. pp. Christopher Hitchens. Kindle edn.8 But the general logic behind the policy was clear. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. http://www. its rise might well look to be on the more warlike end of the spectrum.7 In relation to other great powers the picture is mixed between warm and cold peace.oxfordjournals. with the United States being twice drawn into great powers wars precipitated by the rise of great powers other than itself. Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies (New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. On the contrary. in a sense. and the neighbours of the United States in the Americas. Various rhetorics have surrounded this attempt. the United States rise fits the warm peace model. a plausible case can be made that the United States did rise peacefully. Glaser and Evan S. The United States fairly quickly developed a warm peace with Canada. 2013 7 8 By the time of the Cold War. but in relation to Mexico. therefore. The United States rose through the 19th century. Hughes. ‘The Changing Ecology of Foreign Policy-Making in China: The Ascension and Demise of the Theory of ‘‘Peaceful Rise’’ ’.). and recover from the excesses and chaos of the 6 Downloaded from free ride on the parallel warlike rise of Germany. without having to engage in a serious or extended war with Britain. Dominik Mierzejewski. 2013 . China Policy Institute. But it did not initiate these Blood. The China Quarterly. cold and warm. By narrow realist criteria confined to great power relations. become wealthy and powerful. No. Chinese Nationalism in the Global Era (Abingdon: Routledge. Central America. with a rather complicated picture in which the United States rise takes on a different character in relation to the existing hegemon (Britain) the other great powers. 2009. Christopher R. locs. Bonnie S.nottingham. and therefore the controversy over how responsible or not it was for initiating that ‘war’ is not relevant to the question of peaceful rise. Vol. and then assumed a hegemonic position in the 20th. Medeiros. 1990). Indeed. the United States already was the leading power. with the phrase ‘peaceful rise’ being only briefly in vogue in 2003–2004.

and its relations with Europe are more about indifference than either cold or warm. The question of whether pre-modern China was a notably peaceful hegemon. China in International Society since 1949 (Basingstoke: Macmillan. investment. No.spf.9 This change was driven by internal developments in China during the late 1970s and early 1980s in which the country underwent a quite profound change of national identity. along with rising nationalism. in Peter J. 2 (2003). but deep. and deduced from that the need for stability in its international relations both regionally and globally. is beyond the scope of this article. 91–113. and created significant space for the market to operate. The Chinese Journal of International Politics.oxfordjournals. 1998). But since 2008 China has taken a more aggressive line. China has failed to make any great power friends.html. They understood that it could only do this if it abandoned total state control over the economy. pp. Katzenstein. Yaqing Qin. 6. Strategic Culture and Security Interests: Three Hypotheses on the Interaction between China and International Society’. China’s relations with the United States as the prevailing hegemon are mainly cold peace. and whether or how this might matter for contemporary China. 102–25. 2013 .org/ by guest on June 6. See David C. As Zhang argues. it could in theory achieve a peaceful rise in relation to the prevailing hegemon. China put its own economic development as top priority. Vol. For the first 25 years there was a slow but quite steady trend towards warming relations with Southeast Asia. Yaqing Qin. ed. SIIS Journal. transcript of a talk and discussion for the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. pp. ‘Nation Identity. Like the United States. China’s relations with its smaller neighbours have been mixed. and definition of its security interests. 194–243. http://www. and become part of the global systems of trade. That option is more difficult for Downloaded from http://cjip. Civilizations in World Politics (London: Routledge. but what does its record for the past three decades look like in terms of the three models? So far there has been no warlike rise either against other great powers or China’s neighbours. Japan and 2013 9 10 Yongjin Zhang. Kang. raised the possibility that China would exit from peaceful rise and revert to a more realist model. Even China’s strategic partnership with Russia can hardly be described as warm. ‘China’s Security Strategy with a Special Focus on East Asia’. China’s commitment to peaceful rise was thus instrumental. while having elements of warlike rise in relation to other great powers and its neighbours. and finance. ‘Civilization and State Formation in the Shadow of China’.10 China’s rhetoric of peaceful rise is ongoing. This policy shift. as are its relations with two of its major power neighbours. 2010). China’s peaceful rise thus shares with the United States the complexity of operating in three domains. and by 2012–2013 open talk of war between China and Japan over the islands dispute between them.. This move in turn required that China engage economically with both its neighbours and the world. July 7 2004. strategic culture.asp?id¼863. all of which transformed its relationship with international society. pushing most of its relations with Southeast Asia into the cold peace model.114 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox Maoists years culminating in the cultural revolution.

One other issue that needs to be addressed is how the strategy of rising peacefully relates to what happens after a country has risen? The spectrum of possibilities here is large. currently ranking 3rd (United States) and 4th (China) in the world.5%. ‘China’s Search for a Grand Strategy’. compared to the United States’s 4. not least because it has been reticent to set out its grand strategy. and even the viability. Downloaded from http://cjip. In terms of land area. During the period of its rise the United States was also relatively big. What actually happens after peaceful rise is beyond the scope of this article. and even though many would contest that interpretation. That combination puts a premium on whether or not China will be able to persuade others that its peaceful rise is something other than a temporary manoeuvre in a longer game of the art of war. the merits of strategic deception. after all. and currently has close to 20% of the world’s population. 90. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. 2013 Key Points of Similarity During the Process of Rise Perhaps the most obvious similarity between the United States and China is that in geographical. yet has made its rhetorical commitment to peaceful rise quite explicit. demographic. For the United States. In terms of population. or say what it will do once it has risen.11 Some Chinese backers of peaceful rise may support it for that reason: a key theme of Sun Tze’s Art of War is. On one end of it lies the realist reading of peaceful rise as a mere strategy of deception aimed at facilitating a transit through a dangerous period of relative weakness.oxfordjournals. Foreign Affairs. 68–79. China cannot make the claim that its internal structure necessarily supports peaceful rise. which ranks it 3rd after India. Vol. The United States likes to think of itself as the benign and consensual leader. 2013 . the new power then reverts to power-maximising behaviour. China has for long been number one. Fifty million Europeans emigrated between 1800 and 1914.5 million square miles. No. In 1900.China and the US 115 China than for the United States. most of them to the United States. 2 (2011). China is sometimes suspected of the deception strategy. and economic terms both are relatively big actors in the international system. On the other end of the spectrum is a follow-through of peaceful rise into some form of benign and consensual leadership. by guest on June 6. they are nearly the same size at a bit over 3. it ranked 3rd (after Russia and China) or 4th (if one counts the British Empire as a single unit). and are therefore important to the argument here. 6. of a peaceful rise strategy. During its period of rise the United States benefitted from mass immigration during the 19th century. there is some truth in it. helping 11 Jisi Wang. Once risen. But perceptions of what will happen once a rising power has risen do affect the process. its commitment to peaceful rise was more or less implicit in its liberal character. Vol. because the United States is allied both with Japan and many other of China’s neighbours.

oxfordjournals.12 During its period of rise. and perhaps a bit more surprising. Vol. both countries have lived in relatively benign international environments during their periods of rise.15 Contrary to realist expectations. China’s history in this respect is more complicated. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Interestingly. Britain became. in addition. ‘American Power and the Empire of Capitalist Democracy’. Germany. It was also helped in its rise by its cultural and linguistic affinity with the leading power.13 With huge insulating oceans to east and west. 168. Its geographical remoteness has also made its ascent both less threatening to the rest of the world and reinforced its ‘disinclination’ to dominate other great powers.. of course. pp. 9.14 but also was by far the largest investor in the US economy. ed. 2013 Justin Rosenberg.116 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox to increase its population from 5 million in 1800 to 160 million in 1914. Liberal Order and Imperial Ambition (Cambridge: Polity. Indeed. By 1930. During its period of rise the United States took an early lead. The First World War enabled the United States to become a net creditor. 2013 . John Ikenberry. was able to set up and largely dominate a regional political and security system in the Western hemisphere. a major collaborator in the rise of the United States—though this fact of course does not feature much in United States self-understandings of its rise. in G. Britain not only provided over 6 million emigrants to the United States between 1880 and 1914. The United States has been. The Empire of Civil Society (London: Verso. surpassing Britain during the 1870s and increasing its lead as number one thereafter. Britain was responsible for well over half of the investment into the United by guest on June 6. relatively small and weak neighbours to its north and south. The World Labour Market: A History of Migration (London: Zed Books. Odd Arne Westad. 2004). 2012). it has moreover been difficult to reach militarily. The United States. the United States thus still ranked high: in 1900 it was fourth after China.16 Up until the early 19th century it was insulated from other great powers by distance (although 12 13 14 15 16 Downloaded from http://cjip. 163–64. it very quickly came to accept America’s rise as being both inevitable following the Union’s victory in the Civil War. in effect. India (or the British Empire) and Russia. G. 6. and to take over financial leadership from a weakened Britain. In terms of economy (Gross Domestic Product (GDP)). John Ikenberry. Thus it has always had. p. China currently ranks third after the EU and the United States. p. Lydia Potts. Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750 (London: The Bodley Head. giving it options for degrees of isolation from the balance of power not available to other great powers. and potentially beneficial as Britain’s rivalry with Germany began to assume an increasingly serious form in the late 19th century. 1994). 154. and Russia) combined. p. Mira Wilkins. Britain. famously favoured by geography. and just ahead of Japan. the US GDP was roughly the size of the next three (Britain. By 1914. 132. 1990). it is perhaps the only great power that has not been ‘neighboured’ by other great powers. The History of Foreign Investments in the US: 1914–1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. and still has. 2006).

however. Admittedly. 1. China was vulnerable to all manner of foreign bullying and intervention. both from the West and from a rapidly industrializing Japan. But from the 1840s through to the last decade of the Cold War. Thus FDI in the United States accounted for close to 20% of annual GDP by 1914—around $7. But China also benefitted from the generally more benign international and regional security and economic environment following the end of the Cold War. FDI did play a critical (and now little recognized) role in America’s 19th century ‘take off’. this proportion declined precipitately thereafter as a result of war. The Soviet Union may have been a rival of sorts but by the late 1980s it had ceased to be threatening. 6. the expropriation of German assets. chemicals. During the period of its current peaceful rise. and transport. China is similarly reticent about acknowledging this helping hand from the leading power. FDI was crucial. 9. Like the United States. and Macau. It might be argued that.oxfordjournals. Japan. moving China from nearly zero FDI in the 1970s. 2001). The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Yinqui Wei and Xiaming Liu. Foreign Direct Investment in China: Determinants and Impact (Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar. Vol. The History of Foreign Investments in the US. Taiwan. The association of Southeast Asian Nations drew China into its regional diplomatic arrangements. Initially the great majority of this came from Hong Kong. in key sectors such as steel. and could usually dominate its civilized neighbours. the depression. The United States broadly allowed China entry into the world economy and encouraged its domestic reforms. China has been lucky enough to live again in a relatively benign environment. under US tutelage. p. 2013 Mira Wilkins. for a critical period following the Civil War. like Britain in relation to the United States. China’s policy turn was partly responsible for creating this benign environment because it made China both less threatening and more attractive economically to its neighbours and to the West. FDI was similarly important to China following the abandonment of Maoism in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nonetheless.China and the US 117 not from Asian steppe barbarians).18 But as 17 18 Downloaded from by guest on June 6. to over $900 billion by the late 1990s. and a growing association in the American official mind of foreign investment with threats to national security.17 Indeed. the United States has played a significant facilitating role in the rise of China. pp. 2013 . mainly in terms of economic policy. China gradually abandoned economic isolationism and began to open its doors to increased outside investment. At first careful not to move too precipitately.1 billion in total stock. What links their cases in this respect is that both the United States and China were rising in the context of an international society led by a liberal power. 158. Part of this relatively benign environment for both the United States and China was that during their ascendant periods—America’s after 1865 and China’s after 1978—both countries benefitted from very substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) as an important vehicle facilitating their own development. did not cultivate offensive military power.

Vol. The United States has been more fortunate in that its unity question was largely laid to rest after the Civil War. especially over Tibet and Taiwan. October 2012. their economic growth. things were again much more complicated. and again during the interwar years. 2013 . and therefore into its wider foreign policy and IR. United States military forces remained modest right up to the start of the Cold War. both countries practiced military restraint as opposed to building up their armed forces as fast as. and from 1927 to 1949 there was an organized civil war between communists and nationalists interspersed with foreign interventions and invasions. Both pursued economic engagement with the rest of the world.oxfordjournals. and Xinjiang. China likewise. In the United States. Indeed. p. by the first half of 2012 it had overtaken the United States in becoming the most important destination for FDI world wide. China fragmented after 1911. and a focus on economic self-development (industrialization) while remaining politically aloof. but politically and militarily ‘isolationist’ policy of the United States up to 1917. 6. does not look all that different from the Dengist policy of reform and opening up economically. No. with the civil war running for many decades.19 Another more obvious similarity between them was that both experienced a traumatic civil war before their period of rise. and did not much affect its peaceful rise. A particularly interesting similarity between the United States and China is the way in which the main lines of their foreign policies show striking parallels during their period of rise. self-defensive. China’s civil war ended three decades before its peaceful rise began. 2013 UNCTAD. China fast became the most open and most attractive economy in the whole of the developing world. the unity question is still not fully by guest on June 6. In China. ‘Global Investment Trends Monitor’. gave a relatively low priority to military expansion 19 Downloaded from http://cjip. Taiwan. Abraham Lincoln and the Chinese Communist Party would perhaps have understood each other quite well on this question. However. and seeking stability and keeping a low profile regionally and internationally. and China’s similar current attitudes towards Tibet. immediately before the dramatic take-off in the US’s population and economy. It plays significantly into China’s international image. Except during wartime. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. For China. but nonetheless the experience of civil war left a similar legacy in both countries: both thereafter placed an enormous emphasis on remaining united. even during Mao’s time. The culturally and economically expansive. The bulk of this investment tended to be concentrated in the main coastal cities and the Special Economic Zones.118 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox time went on. the United States and the European Union became more heavily involved too. Parallels could in fact be drawn between the ruthless military anti-secessionism and rejection of self-determination that underpinned the US civil war. In this context. this took place between 1861 and 1865. or faster than. 23. and not wanting to participate in the global balance of power. 10.

But despite its huge economic lead. China has favoured economic development and growth over military expenditure. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Vol. it still falls extremely far short of the massive US figure. 2013 . Japan (7). By the outbreak of the First World War. The US army was not designed. and was not strong enough. Figures for US military expenditure as a percentage of its GDP during the period of its rise are not easy to come by. it has done so at a measured pace. both countries have exhibited a certain weakness for navalism: the United States in building the ‘Great White Fleet’ during the 1890s.5. with China’s military expenditure as a percentage of GDP fluctuating within a narrow band of 1. http://milexdata.China and the US 119 and modernization in relation to the development and growth of its economy. with China’s government pitching the numbers for military expenditure low. This has made China’s military expenditure until recently roughly comparable to that of the big European states such as Britain. this modest-looking figure has to be seen in the context of a very rapidly growing economy. But it is probably true that between the end of the US Civil War and the United States entry into the First World War. France and Germany. Instead it was designed either to hold the country together (the role of the armies of the North) or to be directed against weak opponents including native Americans.sipri. By the late 19th century this was. of course. to fight wars against other significant powers. feeble neighbours like Mexico. United States military expenditure seldom if ever exceeded 1% of GDP and was often much less than that. or Russia. and with Japan. of course. 1% of a fast growing economy that was already the world’s largest. but unlike powers rising in warlike mode. and about the same as France. As with the United States. or Russia (5). rebellious colonials like the Philippinos. the United States had more of the modern ‘dreadnought’ battleships (12) than France (7).org/ by guest on June 6.oxfordjournals.6–2. Despite their relative military restraint.20 They show considerable consistency for the period 1989–2010. therefore. and China now looking towards a blue-water navy during the second decade of the 21st century. 6. in the run-up to the First World War the military expenditure of the United States was generally less than that of Britain. Germany. Finding reliable figures for China’s military expenditure as a percentage of GDP after 1978 is almost equally problematic. The estimates from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) are perhaps a reasonable compromise. Naval might was 20 Downloaded from http://cjip. but many fewer than Britain (41) or Germany (24). Even if China is now pulling ahead of these. In some parallel with the United States. 2013 SIPRI Military Expenditure database 2012. It has focused on military modernization to be sure. The ‘Great White Fleet’ brought the US navy more up to international standard than its army. and relatively weak outside powers like Japan and Spain. and the US military pitching them and has not sought to rival US military power across the board. so it was not an inconsiderable sum.

Despite their reluctance to take a leading role in international society. For the United States. the Panama canal. 2013 Barry Buzan. China has only just arrived at the point where the question of matching its responsibilities to its power is becoming pressing. and some disturbing signs of self-interested swaggering. 6. then abandoned it. Vol. but more instrumentally it also reflected the keenness of both to insulate their regional sphere from outside interference. especially after the First World War. but took dissenting positions on key points. In line with politically isolationist policies. this policy left international society seriously under-managed during the first half of the 20th century. this was embodied in the Monroe doctrine (1823).oxfordjournals.21 At the time of writing there has been no significant display of willingness in Beijing to begin taking more responsibility for global management. and via the Monroe Doctrine tried to set itself up as hegemonic in the Western hemisphere. China wants to be able to exclude outside powers from its region. both for China itself and for international society. Both joined the general framework of international society. but increasingly difficult as their relative power began to weigh significantly in the global balance. the building of naval power. This reticence was easier to pull off when their power was relatively small during the early phases of peaceful rise. 2013 . The United States. The concern to maintain domestic development and domestic stability (harmony) continues to reign supreme. pp. both a rising United States and a rising China nonetheless took firm positions in relation to it. was no longer strong enough to lead effectively. No. In the case of the United States. 5–36. China’s position is again more complex. and a policy of self-interested interventionism in Central and South America and the by guest on June 6. along with most of the Americas. both states were extremely reluctant to take on international leadership responsibilities commensurate with their rising power. not least by sponsoring the first International 21 Downloaded from http://cjip. ‘China in International Society: Is ‘‘Peaceful Rise’’ Possible?’. China’s military policy is aimed at establishing sea control out to the first island chain. The United States was a reluctant entrant into both the First and Second World Wars. Vol. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Chinese Journal of International Politics. though in attempting this it faces much more challenging circumstances than those that faced the United States. and partly because the United States is deeply embedded as an intervening power in East Asia. 1 (2010). and having taken the lead in setting up the League of Nations. partly because there are substantial powers within its region. But the United States rejected the institution of balance of power. and in asserting expansive territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.120 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox partly about showing off their new power. Like the United States before it. Nevertheless. when the United States had for long been the biggest economy and Britain. was happy to assume the status of sovereign equality and thereby to convert European into Western international society. 3.

that once risen the United States would remain relatively benign. And like the United States it has resisted those parts of the prevailing international society that disagreed with its internal makeup. there would be a peaceful world. No. Like the United States. differences. Vol. and the peaceful effects of trade and democracy and individual freedom. China’s neighbourhood is much more complex than that faced by the United States. American exceptionalism was thus outward looking and open. The Chinese Journal of International Politics.oxfordjournals. 6. Chinese exceptionalism is inward looking and closed. Vol. broadly summed up in the much used phrase 22 23 24 25 26 Downloaded from http://cjip. Tingyang Zhao. especially to Britain. China meanwhile has retreated from the ideological universalism of its Maoist period based on Marxian notions of structural conflict rather than on harmony. The United States and the Great Powers (Cambridge: Polity. The United States one was based on universalist liberal ideas about harmony of interests through a market economy. both countries projected a rhetoric of international harmony. 2004). In China’s case. It led the building of a regional international society in the Americas distinctive for its high degree of legalism and commitment to intergovernmental institutions. Jones. Ibid. forthcoming. 36.25 As noted above. the United States view was that if all countries became like America. for example in its support for narrower memberships of Asian regional institutions. Now it projects ideas of harmony based loosely on Confucian prescriptions about ‘all under heaven’ (Tianxia). But as explained above.23 the states of the Americas were also laggards in the early human rights campaigns against slavery. 12. and preservation of.. Since 1978. 154–65. International Society and the Contest over ‘East Asia’. China has likewise sought to integrate itself into Western-global international society. eds. 2013 . in this case most obviously the Western understanding of human rights. and it has so far had little success with this strategy. rather than the cultivation of homogeneity along some particular ideological line. 2007). Put simply. pp. 29–41. American liberalism gave some reassurance. 66–74. albeit of profoundly different types. by guest on June 6. harmony seems now more to be based on the respect for. it has taken a very strong line in favour of sovereign equality and non-intervention: both states are strongly sovereigntist in their attitude towards international society. 2013 Charles A. Barry Buzan. American Civilization (London: Institute for the Study of the Americas.22 Because of their highly racialised societies. pp. pp. non-discrimination and the right of peoples to determine their own political and social development. Barry Buzan and Yongjin Zhang. pp. ‘Rethinking Empire from a Chinese Concept ‘‘All-Under-Heaven’’ (Tian-xia)’.. Social Identities. 1 (2006).26 This has been allied to a strong interpretation of non-intervention.China and the US 121 Conference of American States in 1889.24 Perhaps more curiously given their isolationism. 3. There are signs that China would like also to follow the United States in establishing regional hegemony.

By 1857 tariffs averaged 20%. 2013 . many of its instincts remain protectionist. Thus while it might protest the protectionism of others (as it did at the 2012 18th party congress) it practices its own form of the same.27 Again as noted above. Indeed. keeping its own goods cheap by ensuring that the reminbi remains weak. Tariffs followed in 1816. The United States (or more precisely the northern states) practiced protectionism throughout its rise until the Civil War. In short. and 1828. a competition upon equal terms is in most cases. On the contrary.oxfordjournals. Vol. the situation deteriorated in the 1920s and got even worse in the 1930s with the onset of the depression. Furthermore. China engages in more subtle forms of protectionism: not by putting up tariff barriers but rather by demanding technology transfers from Western investors for being allowed access to the Chinese market. 1922). steel. Wilson liberalized trade somewhat. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. this poses the problem for China that other powers will be suspicious about what happens after China has risen. iron. The defeat of the South was in fact a defeat for the kind of free trade policies favoured by the Confederacy and more generally the Democrats. But China has never fully bought into the notion of an ‘open door’ broadly associated with the Western ideal of globalization. manufactures in particular such as textiles. but after the First World War the Republicans reintroduced high tariffs (The Fordney-McCumber Tariff. glass. economic or political policy. and tin plate. as Western economists have for long been pointing out. ‘China in International Society’. Rather less surprisingly. 27 Downloaded from http://cjip. 20–21.122 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox ‘with Chinese characteristics’ when describing almost any social. Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1791 that ‘to maintain between the recent establishment of one country and the long-matured establishments of another by guest on June 6. 1824. If anything. Protectionist tariffs remained the bedrock of the Republican Party between 1890 (the McKinley Tariff) and 1909 (Payne-Aldrich Tariff). Nor did the situation change at all in the inter-war period. 2013 Barry Buzan. throughout its rise before 1914 the United States accorded high tariff protection to its economy. China has been more constrained by the rules of what is now a much more highly institutionalized global economy than that faced by the United States. 6. This kind of overt protectionism was further reinforced between the two wars when (as we have seen) the United States became less open to inward FDI and a battery of legislation was passed to ensure that Americans retained control over an increasingly American economy. both China and the United States practiced protectionism during their period of rise. its own economy—and its own leading corporations—remain very much under the direction of an all-powerful dirigiste state. and also by its need to keep export markets open. Finally. state-led enterprises continue to command the heights of the Chinese economy. impractical’. pp. though it may practice competition at home.

one of the more obvious measures of this respect is where the new Chinese elite now seem to prefer to send their children (to the United States) to get a ‘gold standard’ education. Despite their massive cultural differences. 117–45. as Jones points out. in one important sense. and could easily reinforce the views of those on both sides who either want to. or think they have to. 51. realist. 2013 .29 Since China aspires to modernity it is in this key sense younger than the United States. 4. as many Chinese like to point out. Rules. At the political level these broader similarities may also help us explain why both states are much inclined to bean counting in terms of their military and economic strength. Vol. Vol. In fact. Charles A.28 American and Chinese societies have much in common including amongst other things a strong sense of patriotic pride (often verging on the chauvinist) married to a much-commented upon commitment to materialism and materialist measures of success. No. pp. And although the United States is definitely a recent start-up compared with China. that China rests on the cultural homogeneity of a people who have been in situ for a long time. and Relations: Towards a Synthetic Approach to Governance’. materialist ways of thinking about international relations. the United States is the oldest state in that it has a good claim to be the first modern by guest on June 6. whereas the United States is a quite new country with a history not yet spanning a quarter of one millennium. This may in part help explain America’s very real fascination with a modern entrepreneurial China that might have much more in common with the United States than some Americans would care to admit. American Civilization. Chinese Journal of International Politics. construct their relationship as one of rivals or enemies. which might broadly be summed up as being individualist versus collectivist societies. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. 2013 Key Points of Difference The most obvious difference between China and the United States. ‘Rule. that measures itself in millennia. is that theirs is a very old country. 2 (2011). This quantitative approach to power plays easily into zero-sum. 6. indeed a civilization. Downloaded from http://cjip.oxfordjournals. including many in Europe. China’s 28 29 Yaqing Qin. It perhaps also plays into some of their current policy similarities. Most obviously both have been obstructionist at global environmental negotiations on the grounds that they are unwilling to put restraints such as commitments to pollution control in the way of maximizing their economic development and GDP growth.China and the US 123 The final similarity may be more difficult to quantify but nevertheless has potentially large significance. This difference is closely related to another one. It would certainly help explain China’s very deep respect for American power and American economic success. p. Jones. The United States’s history is nevertheless quite long compared to many other contemporary states.

the United States was a late developer. and Russia/USSR. while allowing them to keep hyphenated identities as Mexican-. which differentiates it strongly from the rest of the world in terms of ‘Chinese characteristics’.oxfordjournals. in contrast. and several of the rising ones were making extreme military and ideological challenges to the liberal status quo. In terms of modernity and industrialization. But beyond that. 2013 Downloaded from http://cjip. lie equally big ones in the timing and historical conditions under which the two have conducted their rise. the differences are great. and combines with a multicultural identity. German-. and empire building and racism were legitimate practices. is stronger and more uniform. and the nature of international society has changed profoundly between the two periods of rise. and when commitment to maintaining world trade. China. Most obviously the United States rose during a period in which great power wars were normal and regular occurrences. This matters in several ways. For all of its many faults and hypocrisies. The United States. On top of this deep intrinsic difference. But. this differentiation is open and potentially inclusive. rather than closed and exclusive. arguably in a fourth round. The trajectory of the United States began more than a century before China’s recent start. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. the US and China could hardly be more different. Both the United States and China rose in a context where other large powers were also rising (the United States rose alongside by guest on June 6. And alongside this inclusive ideology is the fact that America’s multiculturalism allows many parts of the world to see themselves in some sense as represented in America.and many other national types of American. Vol. has risen into a world where nuclear weapons have made great power wars irrational. 6. when empires and racism are neither legitimate nor fashionable. In this area of identity and culture/ideology. America’s civic nationalism also gives it a unique identity that differentiates it strongly from the rest of the world. America’s ideology and commitment to individual freedom does have considerable worldwide appeal. Although the United States did not start any of the consequent wars.124 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox nationalism is therefore of the ethno-cultural type. in contrast. therefore. The United States rose in a context in which there were major ideological differences amongst the great powers. meaning that it is rising in a context in which the world economy as a whole is much more developed. commitment to maintaining a global economy was thin and episodic. Korean. along with Germany and Japan coming in the second round after Britain. and a stable world economy more broadly. Its nationalism is civic rather than ethnic. The American melting pot both homogenizes its citizens into Americanness. China is rising alongside India and Brazil). 2013 . as noted in the discussion of American exceptionalism above. Chinese-. Japan. it was drawn into both of them as a key player. and there are many other industrialized and industrializing countries rather than just a handful. is mainly a country of immigrants. China is a late developer.

China suffered a major fall from power between 1840 and 1945. But neither will it get drawn into any such wars. As argued by guest on June 6. during the Second World War. the end of its insulation. nor have the option to benefit from them by standing back. whereas China. both China and the United States have experienced a shift from being relatively insulated from the core of the international system by distance and geography. not even that. The US took over from Britain. the United States was always part of the Western identity and project.oxfordjournals. that both China and the United States have benefitted from a relatively benign international environment and help from the leading power. While this might at first look like a similarity. A similar caveat. and for the most part it chose isolationism. During its Maoist period China engaged by being oppositional to Western-global international society. the United States was the major beneficiary of the First and Second World Wars. and sometimes. by which time the United States was already the leading great power. So during its rise. China is rising in a context where ideological differences amongst the powers are much lower. its nearest kin country in terms of ethnic stock. perhaps turning an apparent similarity into a difference. although foreshadowed by the First World War. and none of the rising powers seeks to overthrow the existing order by force (though they may well of course want to negotiate modifications to it). and was able to pick up the pieces after the other great powers had been destroyed or depleted by the conflicts. Since the foreign intrusions began. culture and ideology. and has so far stayed with this choice. applies to the point argued in the previous section. remains culturally and politically strongly non-Western. and even on the worst declinist scenarios would have only a relatively mild version of it should it fall from global primacy during the coming decades. the United States had real choices about the degree to which it would engage or not with the rest of international society. This difference matters in any consideration of hegemonic succession. China has never had the choice to engage or not. 2013 Downloaded from http://cjip. despite its adoption of some features of modernity. 6. when outside intrusion burst in on it and exposed its weakness. It had only the choice about how and on what terms to engage.China and the US 125 In a sense. While this similarity remains valid. it is in fact more of a difference. as during the period up to the 1940s. Like the United States. a traumatic experience that influences its current outlook heavily. took place relatively late. This was perhaps a unique transition in that Britain could let its world leadership go without feeling deeply threatened by the likely nature of the The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Vol. where it joined late. For China. suffered relatively little damage or casualties. this shift took place in the middle of the 19th century. 2013 . Under Deng it chose engagement and peaceful rise. the institutional framing of international society is much stronger. China will probably not start any hegemonic wars. For the United States. The United States has never had that experience. to being inescapably enmeshed in it.

technological know-how and large market at home. 2010. Neither rose in isolation. the United States experience was rather mixed. Vol. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. the United States has always had a foundational commitment to a free enterprise system. But it is almost impossible to imagine the United States feeling as comfortable about China as Britain was able to feel about the United States. to which it was initially fiercely opposed. as shown by the West’s relative lack of concern about the rise of India. and in its own 30 Downloaded from http://cjip. the United States had eventually to take on the role of liberal hegemon after the Second World War. The Chinese Communist Party clearly has no interest whatsoever in liberal individualism. The United States was unquestionably part of the world economy during the period of its rise. In domestic terms. and this uncertainty plays into the doubts about what a risen China would be like.30 It remains unclear how deep its commitment to the market actually is. China would have to take over from a hegemon with a culture and a political order deeply different from its own. In systemic terms. such as one from the United States to the Soviet Union would have been. 2013 Michael A. 6. ‘China: What Variety of Capitalism?’. After decades of denying its responsibilities. The US economy was big enough to make it significantly responsible for these by guest on June 6. INSEAD Working Paper 2010/88/ EPS. for inward investment. China’s recent drift back towards favouring State Owned Enterprises is worrying. Witt. and feels deeply uneasy about the capitalist society that its hugely successful economic reforms are inevitably creating. China has risen into a well-established and highly institutionalized liberal economic order. China’s conversion to capitalism is very recent. But while there are some similarities (see on protectionism in the previous section) the differences are greater. making it easier than a transition involving a profound ideological difference. But China’s policies of reform and opening up made it far more dependent on the more advanced world—for a market for its goods. If China became more democratic that would help a lot. most obviously in 1929. China’s adoption of capitalism would help a bit. Both China and the United States rose in the context of a liberal economic order in which they were embedded. and comes in authoritarian form. 2013 . In this regard. but it could be argued that the world economy before 1945 needed the United States more than the United States. but with which since 1978 it has been seeking accommodation. If it came to such a transition between China and the United States. needed the rest of the world. This is part and parcel of its liberal commitment to individualism and the market. for political support.oxfordjournals. But it still would not recreate the unique conditions that applied between Britain and the United States. The systemic context for the United States rise was an unstable liberal order waxing and waning during the 19th and 20th centuries. with its vast resources.126 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox new global order led by the United States.

enjoying both primacy and legitimacy as the hub of civilization. but as already discussed. the United States was reformist revisionist.China and the US 127 region.oxfordjournals. the United States. 2013 Downloaded from http://cjip. the country has probably not yet settled into an enduring form of political economy. China was for nearly two millennia secure as the elephant in its region. and in part created by. or possibly a radical revisionist (the nationalist position wanting China to start flexing its muscles as soon as its relative strength allows. this provides considerable continuity and predictability about how the United States relates to international society. At the regional level. non-intervention. Vol. and as the ongoing pressures for major social reform indicate. although both were dependent on foreign capital. After its civil war. the American polity settled into a stable form within which it has evolved ever since. for successful examples it could follow. It has mainly been able to exclude rival powers from its region. China as a formally communist-led country seemed to lean on the capitalist world far more than democratically-led America with its special mission to spread the gospel of free enterprise. In relation to international society. or shift more sharply back towards a state-run economy). large differences too. and negotiated changes in some norms and practices). This difference perhaps relates to the relative stability of the basic character of the US polity after the Civil War. It remains an open question whether the economic crisis beginning in 2008 will create turbulent conditions for China more similar to those experienced by. and has some legitimacy as regional leader. and apart from its strong pluralist commitment to sovereignty. 2013 .org/ by guest on June 6. if not necessarily imitate. China’s position on what kind of international society it would like to be part of remains murky. wanting negotiated change in international society towards more legal and institutionalized practices. and the protection of cultural and political distinctiveness. As yet. For better or for worse. having a love–hate relationship with its neighbours from very early on in its rise. and ironically. there are some similarities in the roles of China and the United States in their respective local spheres. But from the 19th century it was unable to keep rival powers out of the region. wanting to join the US-led order and seeking stability above all. But there are hints that it might be either another kind of reformist revisionist (wanting increases in its own status. dominate the Western hemisphere. markets and technology. and the relative uncertainty both within China and outside it about what kind of polity China will become over the next decades. and was displaced as the dominant power from within the region by Japan from the late 19th Century until The Chinese Journal of International Politics. It can. The United States was always the elephant in the Americas. and up to a point still does. China’s civil war is still within living memory. The universalist ideology of the United States on international society gave it a relatively clear position. In this sense. China says it is a status quo power. 6.

in a narrow way. That accomplishment makes the Chinese case a lot more interesting than it would be if the realists were always right. Because it involves different domains it can be partly peaceful and partly warlike. but involved similar neighbourhood bullying to that of the United States. and perhaps thereby to understand each other better? Does it suggest any lessons about the process of peaceful rise. particularly in relation to some conspicuous similarities in their policies (e. despite the predictions of realist theory. and refusing either to lead or be led on this issue). 6. China still cannot exclude outside powers from its region. The remaining question to be answered is therefore: ‘So what?’ This comparison is entertaining. Conclusions We have shown that the similarities between the United States and China touch at enough points of significance to make the comparison between them intriguing. yet also having a weakness for navalism. but is it useful beyond helping the United States and China to put their relationship into an interesting historical context. tell us about China’s prospects? Despite the differences between the two cases we can see six useful lessons.g.128 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox recently. the United States achieved a warm rise in relation to the existing hegemon. So while the United States feels relatively secure in its region. The key to seeing the United States as a genuine case of peaceful rise is that it did not challenge the reigning hegemon. the other still in process. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. In a narrow but important way. a Chinese rise that avoided direct rivalry with the United States. and neither does it yet have the power or the legitimacy to reassert regional leadership. The first general lesson is that one can see from the United States case that a kind of peaceful rise is indeed possible. and indeed supported it. giving primacy to economic growth over agreements on dealing with global warming. as was the case with the United States. by guest on June 6. China lives in a region with other great powers and the United States does not (though it might do with the rise of Brazil). On that model. general restraint in acquiring military strength. But peaceful rise is much more complicated and differentiated than at first appears to be the case. though a colder and sometimes warlike one in relation to other great powers and its neighbours. 2013 . Yet there are also many big differences between the United States and China both in themselves and in the timing and placement of their rise to power. either generally. or in relation to China’s current policy? What does comparing these two cases of peaceful rise. China still does not.oxfordjournals. 2013 Downloaded from http://cjip. protectionism. would still. one completed nearly seven decades ago. Huge resentment over Japan’s challenge to China’s hegemony still poisons relations between the two (and thereby greatly benefits the United States position in the Western Pacific).

let alone doing much more than repeating the old Westphalian mantra that The Chinese Journal of International Politics. official racism and deep ideological divides. the main question for China is what kind of peaceful rise. 2013 Downloaded from http://cjip. meaning that there are a lot more substantial. and the United States remains a unique. cold or warm. and (3) It seems highly unlikely that there will be hegemonic wars from which China can take advantage as the United States did. China is now exiting from its peaceful rise strategy. This fits with realist logic. and because the United States has a strong position in East Asia. and if true supports the position of those who think that peaceful rise was only ever a temporary ruse to cover an awkward transition period. Although foolishness leading to war can never be ruled out. Vol. the surrounding context for China’s rise is relatively benign.China and the US 129 count as a kind of peaceful rise. and in which the institutional order is relatively well developed. The second lesson is that in some very significant ways. When the United States was rising. exemplar of it. China has to rise in a context of many other rising powers and older powers not going away. Now it is not. In that case. realist logic is by no means out of the picture. and pursuing power politics from a position of greater strength. (2) China is less secure in its own region than the United States was. though even there the United States presence in East Asia makes such a strategy much more dangerous than it was for the United by guest on June 6. and in relation to which constituencies: neighbours.oxfordjournals. modernized powers in the international system than there were when the United States rose. warlike rise was a realistic. What further inhibits China over the longer term is its own limited world view—one that does not seem to encompass the idea of global leadership. both because there are other substantial powers surrounding it. 6. option. So even although peaceful rise is against realist logic. and the reigning US hegemon? Despite this easier position. Peaceful rise is then nothing more than a footnote within a broadly realist picture. China rises in a system/society in which great power war is largely ruled out. In the absence of empire-building. The two world wars eliminated or weakened many great powers leaving the field clear for the United States. even rational. 2013 . It is often observed that the bellicose turn in China’s behaviour coincides precisely with the weakening of the United States as a result of the economic crisis beginning in 2008. the third lesson is that there are three obvious reasons why China’s position in the international system/society is never going to be as relatively strong as the United States was at its peak: (1) China is a relative latecomer to industrial modernity. perhaps unrepeatable. China’s prospects for rising peacefully look easier to achieve than was the case for the United States. Warlike rise is not really an option except perhaps in a limited way within China’s local neighbourhood. other great powers.

and so it has to be more careful than the United States was about how it conducts relations with its neighbours. and support the rules and institutions of the global economy. International Relations. The fifth lesson is that the regional level will be crucial to China’s peaceful rise. take over as singular hegemon for the world economy as the United States did.130 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox states should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. Economic Change and the Decline of the West’. or at least for a warm version of peaceful rise in line with China’s rhetoric of harmony. manage. Vol. or have the option to. It will rise into a world where there are several other great powers. Consequently. No. pp. 6. 1 (2011). Instead. pp. 1–23. this warm peace seemed to be China’s strategy. 2013 . this policy seems to have been 31 32 Downloaded from http://cjip. 4 (2012). but also by the degree of cultural and political difference between itself and both the existing hegemon and the international order more generally. it badly needs to develop a vision of the kind of international society it wants to be part of. 2013 Michael Cox. But China does have the option of seeking to build better relations with its neighbours. China would pay a huge price for copying the United States model. and the leading power. In China’s case these three domains are all quite tightly tied together. and to make that vision reassuring to others. some of them neighbours. and because outside intervention in its region (mainly by the United States) is also strong and well-established. as Germany and Indonesia and Brazil have done (and Russia and India have conspicuously not done). China has less opportunity than the United States did to simply dominate its by guest on June 6. ‘A World Order without Superpowers: Decentered Globalism’.32 So the fourth lesson is that China will therefore not have to. China does not have the option that the United States did of keeping separate its relationships with its neighbours. At the regional level.oxfordjournals. it will have to participate in a collective hegemony to create. There is of course nothing China can do either about being a late developer or not having other great powers fight hegemonic wars to its advantage. and with the exception of relations with Japan. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. other great powers. China was in good standing with most of Southeast Asia and also with South Korea. 25. it could afford to abuse its neighbours and conduct a regional rise that was significantly cold and sometimes warlike. 369–83. it worked quite well. Vol. If it did bid for singular hegemony it would be disadvantaged not only by the power structure. ‘Power Shifts. China is less geostrategically favoured than the United States both because its neighbours are stronger than the United States ones were (and still are). But since 2008–2009. Coming to terms with its region is essential to China’s prospects for peaceful rise. Barry Buzan. 26.31 If China is to make a success of its peaceful rise. International Relations. Since the United States both had weak neighbours and could insulate its region from outside interference. No. Vol. For a time during the later 1990s and early 2000s.

No. The National Interest. 2013 . Perhaps it will be on the issue of the global environment. Its economy may be in relative decline. and for international society. Britain was failing as the liberal hegemon both because the relative size of its economy had become too small. the current situation does not look like this. 45–8. 7. and that the United States. Given that other powers are also rising. or its misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. both for China and for international society. Asian Security. refusing to take great power managerial responsibilities commensurate with their level of power and capability. both of which it is poorly placed to do. China will never face the hegemonic question faced by the United States. and because it was bankrupted by two world wars. No. and China has taken a more nationalist. The Chinese Journal of International Politics. Europe and Japan are not going to disappear as major centres of power. Ross. bullying. the question will be whether China pulls its weight in creating and managing the post-Western order. This forced the US into either taking the leadership role or abandoning the global liberal economic order. but it does mean that it will achieve only a cold. and it has already helped to consolidate the United States position in Asia. or whether it succumbs to a self-centred and reckless by guest on June 6. If sustained. Vol. 116 (2011). It will encourage regional balancing against it. but its relative size and quality. pp.oxfordjournals. at least in relation to the global economy. and international society needs to look beyond singular hegemony to stabilize the economic order. ‘Fear Factor: Northeast Asian Responses to China’s Rise’. Neither the United States economy nor its military have been ruined by either the Cold War. pp. ‘Chinese Nationalism and its Discontents’.34 fears recently heightened by China’s resort to gunboat diplomacy in the islands dispute with Japan. to anything like the same extent as Britain was weakened by two world wars. international society fell apart during the 1930s. Nicholas Khoo.33 This policy has already led to rising fears of China in Japan and South Korea. ‘negative’ peace. it will kill China’s warm peaceful rise at its roots. will remain high. 2013 Robert S. China will not therefore be faced with the same extreme choices as the United States unless it tries to displace the United States or overthrow the liberal economic order. For China. perhaps very cold. 33 34 Downloaded from http://cjip. is that peacefully rising powers risk staying too long in isolationist mode. It does not mean that China will revert to the warlike rise of other great powers. 95–118.China and the US 131 abandoned. 2 (2011). The United States is not going to be as weak as Britain became. Despite the presence of a deep economic crisis. This is what the United States did from the late 19th century through to the Second World War. this issue is going to be less crucial for China than it was for the United States. and swaggering line towards most of its neighbours. arrogant. and the strength of its military. For the reasons given above. Vol. The sixth and final lesson. Partly as a consequence. 6.

2013 The Chinese Journal of International by guest on June 6. that China’s willingness to pull its weight in the management of international order will be tested. and in the very narrow sense of it not triggering great power war. Peaceful rise is possible for China.132 Barry Buzan and Michael Cox rather than the global economy. both in its neighbourhood and in the world. very probable. but on the present trajectory China is heading for a cold peace. 6. 2013 . There is still time and possibility to choose about this. The choice is between what kind of peaceful rise—warm or cold. Downloaded from http://cjip.oxfordjournals. Vol.