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The Rise of China.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 244
Mahesh Shankar

POLI 244: International Relations: State Behaviour Page 1 THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012: The Coming World Order- The Rise of China What are the potential consequences of the rise of China? Usually the rise of great powers has been associated with major hostility, conflict, and war. Changes in the distribution of power can affect the prospects of war and peace (ex. WWI, WWI, Cold War). During the Cold War, we did not get a major war, but the costs of great power conflict were still extremely high, especially with the involvement of nuclear weapons. Scholars present alternative scenarios of what the world might look like and what this means. There are three possible worlds. 1. United States as a hegemon/dominant (the current situation). It is a unipolar moment. The US will still be militarily dominant and economically viable, and is the only one with global power projection abilities. Other states have a stake in the US doing well, particularly smaller countries that rely on it economically. The US has a highly educated population, one of the best university systems, and is on the cutting edge of technological development. US dominance is not going to disappear all that quickly because while we are in a unipolar system, this system is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. This is due to their military capabilities, because if any country wants to reach the American level of power, they would need to match and surpass American military capabilities (the US spends more than twice of what the next 5 great powers combined spend on military capabilities annually). This is highly unlikely. While China might be growing at a massive rate, the Chinese have their issues and problemstheir economy is nowhere near as diversified as the United States (it is low tech, export driven, which is not necessarily sustainable). 2. Multipolar world: America is declining and will continue to decline in influence in every part of the world and economic power and military predominance in some reason. It will have to share power with Asian states, but there is skepticism that China is working its way to global dominance. They expect the world increasingly reflect a multipolar order. Germany (a rising European power, especially if the Eurozone recovers quickly), India (if their economic growth and influence continues, prominent military power, nuclear power), Brazil (influential South American power, growing economy) and Russia (might recover from the shock of breakup of the USSR, solve its democratization issues, extremely large, in a strategic part of the world, nuclear power, resource rich) will all become greater powers. While China and the US will be POLI 244: International Relations: State Behaviour Page 2 extremely important actors, they will not be the only actors powerful and influential in the system. 3. US decline and China catching up: Many scholars argue this is the most likely world. The American economy has hit a brick wall, and they are not going to get any better. They will need to scale down military spending and adopt more international restraints. China is growing at a great rate, and despite the occasional blips it will likely continue to grow. China may be at a point where it becomes the dominant power in the next couple decades. China is the next lender of money in the world economy, and their economic dominance may be complete sooner rather than later. China is investing a lot of resources in upgrading its military capabilities, and China is probably not disclosing officially the full amount that it is spending on capabilities. Right now its naval forces are not strong, but they are being rapidly built up, and they will have great power projection capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. The expectation is that over the next several decades; the US will keep declining and China will grow towards matching the United States at the global level. If China is rising, many believe that hegemonic stability is positive and a hegemon is good for world stability and peace. If the third world is true, this sparks concern because periods of hegemonic decline/power transitions are periods of conflict and war. The Cold War didnt involve a power transition, but the Sino-US case possibly does. Possible paths of conflict: o China is seeking influence in East Asia as it grows stronger, and the US will resist. Historically, China has considered this area as their rightful sphere of influence, but with American presence and power projection capabilities the US has its own allies (Japan, Korea, several Southeast Asian states) who are aimed at curbing Chinese dominance in this region. The US has maintained this power through their strong navy, and through bases in this region the US has been able to maintain its power. As China gets stronger economically, it is building up is military capabilities, particularly its naval capabilities. China wants a blue water navy like the US possesses, and it wants to use this to project power at great distances from its own shores. China will want the US to remove its navy from the area, but the US will not give up easily (it has put a lot of resources in the area and wants to maintain its allies in the region, and this would also be a signal to the rest of the world they are in decline and are giving up). ex) The US government has made a public decision that they will pivot towards Asiacutting down presence in the Middle East and Europe and moving troops to Asia to shore up their influence in the region. If this takes place, it will generate a lot of conflict between the US and China. POLI 244: International Relations: State Behaviour Page 3 o There is a fear in Asia of Chinese expansionism based on what critics of China see as solid group. China and Japan have disputes over some islands, which has sparked a major diplomatic incident (ex. Chinese boat captain). Japan fears that when China becomes dominant it may just take over what it thinks belongs to it. There are also a number of territorial disputes in East and Southeast Asia over islands (which are thought to be surrounded by waters with a lot of oil and natural gas). China does not possess a navy strong enough to venture from its own shore, but once it acquires this stronger navy, it could pursue expansionism and take what they want, particularly because China wants these resources. South East Asian states are weaker, so deal with China by creating closer relations with the United States, so it China threatens them they will be in direct conflict with the United States. ex) Recent diplomatic dispute over an island in the South China sea between China and the Philippines. o Taiwana remnant of the Chinese civil war. In the war the communists defeated the nationalists, who retreated to the island of Taiwan and established what China calls a rebel government. China still asserts that Taiwan is a threat and wants to control China. The US has adopted a one China policy where they only recognize the Beijing government as the Chinese representative. They have also made it clear they will not allow China to absorb Taiwan by force. If China were to try to occupy, the US would have a responsibility to go to the aid of Taiwan. As China grows, it will likely to try to take back Taiwan. o Ideological and regime type differencesthe democratic peace logic. China is not satisfied in a US dominant system where liberal values are emphasized, and the United States will not be satisfied in a Chinese dominant system when communism is dominant and liberal values are undermined. What would a Chinese rise mean for the prospect of peace? There is a case to be made that this transition to power isnt necessarily going to be dangerous. o Nuclear weapons made the war between the US and the Soviet Union cold, and there is no reason to believe this will not be the case in a US- China war. Both sides would fear nuclear exchange, and this deterrence alone should be enough to stabilize relations. That being said, nuclear deterrence is difficult in practice, and could result in the stability- instability paradox. Would the powers risk nuclear war for small allies like Taiwan or over small islands? And if the US isnt willing to risk war for
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