From the November 17, 2008 Opposing Views
November 21, 2008
by Christopher Ford
Though Chinese leaders would fiercely deny presenting any such problems, China itself seems to think that its rise presents a threat.
It is Beijing’s objective to return China to the position of global power and status it feels to be its birthright. Just how much power and influence China expects is an open question, for the ancient Middle Kingdom traditionally viewed itself as the political and civilizational hub of the known world: the central state toward which even the rudest of barbarians turn in awestruck submissiveness, whether or not they are directly ruled by the Celestial Emperor. At the very least, Beijing seems to desire a peer-to-peer relationship with the greatest of the foreign powers – and possibly more. This necessarily places China on a collision course with American interests, at least insofar as Washington wants to maintain a special position as the uniquely “indispensable” power in global politics.
In order to restore itself to this position, China needs breathing space – time in which to develop itself into a global power of the first rank, and an international environment (e.g., favorable economic conditions) conducive to doing so. Chinese strategists, however, know from their own strategic literature from the period before Chinese unification under the Qin Dynasty that a state perceived to have hegemonic ambitions can elicit resistance and counter-balancing behavior from those threatened by its growing power. It has been a high priority for Chinese leaders to avoid this.
Christopher A. Ford was formerly Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Technology and Global Security at Hudson Institute.
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