You are on page 1of 3

To what extent is China rise as a global power a threat to its regional neighbours?

Chinas rise as a global power can be seen in 4 different sectors. First, China is an
economic powerhouse in Asia, which recently overtook Japan as the leading
economic body in the region. Second, Chinas huge military buildup helped to raise
the PLAs status to becoming the largest military in Asia today. With its large
coverage of influence in Asia, neighboring countries with closer ties to the West, like
Japan, are viewing Chinas global rise with hostility. Notwithstanding this, the
Chinese has been trying to downplay the China Threat Theory by legitimizing its
rise as peaceful and low-profiled. Its economic, cultural and political cooperation
with other countries have been welcomed by countries which are anti-West, hoping
that Chinas rise will balance American influence in the region.
Chinas rapid rise as an economic powerhouse globally is not seen favourably by
developed neighbours, as this may undermine their existing economic status.
Developed economies which previously had a strong foothold in the region are now
beginning to feel the threat of Chinas more lucrative economic advantages.
Moreover, with Chinas rapid rise in economic growth, more Western countries have
begun to venture into China, in the hope of gaining from this economic powerhouse.
Developed economies like Japan and South Korea are now feeling the pinch, as
more MNCs are pouring in capital into China. Furthermore, China is now venturing
into the Japanese automobile industry, making it a even more visible threat to Japan
as it tries to rob the Japanese rice bowl evident from the current economic
downturn, developed economies are feeling the pinch with negative growth rates,
while China can still enjoy a positive 9% growth for 2009. However, other
economies are also trying to view for Chinas economic advantage by venturing into
the Chinese market or have economic cooperation with China. For example, Taiwan
and Singapore are currently the 9th and 8th largest FDI contributors to China
respectively. There is now a considerable presence of Taiwanese and Singaporean
businesses in mainland China. The Taiwanese IT industry has in fact many factories
in mainland China and the Singapore government has upcoming projects such as
the Tianjin Eco-city in China. While some developed economies felt disadvantaged
by Chinas fast growing economy, others are tapping on this fast economic bullet
train as a platform for further economic opportunities in the long-run.
The Chinese militarys rapid buildup is worrying for the region as neighbouring
countries are viewing this as Chinese hegemonism. Since Dengs implementation of
the Four Modernisations the Chinese defense system has been building up at a
very fast rate. Countries which do not have a constant amicable relationship with
China are skeptical of this. Japan and Taiwan who do not share a consistent good
relationship with China mau not welcome this move, as the threat of aggression
against them will increase. For Japan, historical factor is the main factor for
skepticism. Violent Sino-Japanese past and the current unstable relationship is
certainly a key point for jpan to raise their eyebrows against the buildup. As for the
Taiwanese, the 800missiles directed at the island, and the 1995 and 2001 military
exercise held off the Taiwan Straits are 2factors which are not welcomed by the
Taiwanese government. Other military powers in the region may also step up its
defense, creating an arms race in the region. For example, the 1962 Sino-Indian war
created a boogeyman image of China. Indias development of its military is in a way
a response to Chinas military buildup, become the 2 nd largest military in the world.

This resulted in an unhealthy arms race in Asia. However, recent developments in

Taiwanese and Japanese politics have greatly reduced their animosities with China.
Without the previous unfriendly Sino-Japanese and Sino-Taiwanese relationships, the
current Taiwanese and Japanese governments need not be unduly worried over
Chinas buildup. As for the current Taiwanese government with the ruling antiindependence government, peace is likely to stay at the cross-strait. Nevertheless,
Taiwanese and Japanese politics are not constant, making peace between China and
the short-term. Chinas military buildup is one of the many reasons for Indias
military buildup. The latters hostile relationship with Pakistan is also a reason for its
increase in arms. Hence, the Chinese military buildup is seen by some countries a
direct threat to their existence. However, with the current political situation, this
threat is not felt as strongly as in the previous years, giving the governments a
peace of mind at least in the short-run.
As China develops into a global power, it will have to compete with neighbours over
limited resources and at the same time spill its pollution to them. In order for China
to sustain its economical development, it is inevitable that China has to source for
energy beyond its borders, as its domestic resources are depleting rapidly. In order
to grab hold of resources, China has to compete with its neighbours which are also
developing. For example, China has been competing with various SEA nations and
Japan over the resource-rich Spratly Islands. China has also disputed with Japan
over the controversial Senkaku Islands for suspected crude oil deposits in the area.
As China produces at an alarming rate to gain a global economic foothold, its
uncontrolled pollution has pilled over to its neighbours. As the largest producer for
greenhouse gases in the world, China caused various climate changes to the region.
For example, a recent sandstorm which attacked South Korea actually came from
China. Such uncontrolled economic development has portrayed China as an
irresponsible nation, hindering its rise as a global power. However, the Chinese
government is now actively trying to source for alternative sources of energy
domestically. The 3Gorges Dam project is one example which the Chinese is hoping
to produce hydro electricity. It is also venturing heavily into nuclear energy and also
natural gas from the western regions. The Chinese government has also stepped up
on its pollution control in recent years. Serious efforts by the government have been
made to make sure the environment is not polluted too heavily. The recent cleanup
of Beijings air is an example of its efforts made to show the world of its
commitment towards curbing environment degradation. Aspiring to be a global
power, China must seriously monitor its pollution status, so that it can portray itself
as a great and responsible nation. Hence, Chinas development has become a direct
threat to its neighbours through competition and pollution. Although it has been
trying hard to resolve these issues domestically, the measures seen thus far can
only be short term and the effects cannot be seen as fast.
Chinas recent economical, political and cultural cooperation with its neighbours has
downplayed the China Threat Theory. In a bid to alleviate animousity with its
neighbours, China has to engage positively with them. In terms of economical
cooperation, China has engage positively with them. In terms of economical
cooperation, Chinas economic aid to rogue neighbours is certainly welcomed as
these nations have been shunned by the West. For example, Chinas economic
cooperation with Burma and North Korea. Besides having economical cooperation
with pariah states, China also has healthy economic ties with ASEAN through

ASEAN+3 and APEC, promoting economic growth in the region. In terms of cultural
exchange, the Chinese have been sending engaging actively in educational
exchange trips in Singapore, Japan and South Korea. This is an important move for
the Chinese as it is a useful platform for other countries to understand Chinas
rationale behind its peaceful development. In terms of political cooperation, China
initiated the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with the Central Asian States and
Russia, with aims of countering terrorism and promoting trade links in Eurasia. In
short, China has been actively trying to build a positive image within Asia. This is
through healthy economical, poltical and cultural ties, with aims of preaching its
peaceful development rationale and its gift of the olive branch may reduce the
China Threat Theory in the long-run.
As China rises to become, a global power, some of its neighbours may view this as a
threat, while others may treat this as an opportunity for cooperation. Countries with
animosity with China have based their rationale on geo-historical factors, which in
the long-run is not easy to resolve. Others felt threatened based on Chinas rapid
but uncontrolled economic development. However, China has been actively trying
to engage with nations through extending political and economical benefits,
projecting an image of a responsible nation. On the softer side, China has tried to
promote understanding with its neighbors through its spread of soft power. With
these objectives in mind, China hopes to reduce tensions with its neighbors in the
long-run. For China, it is important to promote understanding of its rationale for rise
within the region. As such, its positive regional influence can extend to the rest of
the globe, legitimizing its aspirations to be a true and responsible global power.