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Some policymakers and academics have interpreted this rise as a serious threat, directed specifically against the United States, its friends, and the Western way of life.
The belief on the part of some is that China will gain enough economic strength to threaten the peace and security of the West and specifically to challenge the United States on issues like Taiwan. They also see a threat to American security as China infiltrates U.S. capital markets. In addition, "they point to China's poor record on proliferation, its weapons sales to many of America's adversaries, and its largely successful attempts to gain dual use technology and elicit military secrets through espionage as undeniable threats to American national security."
Vincent Cable and Peter Ferdinand note the conflict presented by the more open economic policies of China, at least as compared with the past, pointing out the economic opportunities seen by many companies while also asking if an improved economy for china constitutes a threat for the future. They note that the economic power of China is a function of both its size and its growth, and the change has created a new interest in Chinese markets: "While China remained a closed economy, the size and living standards of its domestic economy were of largely academic interest to the rest of the world." The authors state that prosperity for China will create both problems and opportunities, with the problems including economic competition, increased pollution, and the development of an economic platform for military actions. The authors recommend caution because the opportunities being held out today could be taken away tomorrow if China shifts back to more inward-looking forms of development, as has happened in soe economics in the past. Political uncertainties about China are especially troubling, and the human rights abuses revealed from time to time show that the ruling regime is not as secure as it makes it appear.
Gerald Segal recognizes that the huge population in China is a tempting target and that this makes the Chinese economy seem important to the world, but he also finds that weaknesses in the economies throughout East Asia makes this market less stable and less certain than some assume. China is most important, he says, to other economies in East Asia, though investors in the west are looking to China as if it will be a major boon to their fortunes. Segal also points out that China is a second-rate military power and accounts for only 4.5% of global defense spending, while the United States makes up 33.9%: "Beijing clearly is a serious menace to Taiwan, but even Taiwanese defense planners do not believe China can successfully invade." Segal calls for the United States and others in the West to stop viewing China as a power commensurate with its size and to see China more as another Brazil or India.
Various other writers have commented on Segal's position. Lawrence Freeman agrees with Segal about China today, but he also believes that occupies a strategic position that it could improve with economic strength. Samuel Kim also says that China is not likely to exercise global leadership and will only be powerful in the Asia-Pacific region. Some others note that the role of China has improved greatly since Segal wrote his analysis and that this is related to economic improvements. China is still not a major market but is an important production site for exports to the West. Barry Buzan says that internal development will determine whether China becomes stronge rand whether it becomes a malign force: "Buzan insists that for China to become a co-operative member of the international community, it must address key social issues generated by market reform and party dictatorship (income inequality, corruption, crime, environmental protection, etc.)."
Mark Helprin note the traditional course for China when he writes,
By geography, history, and tradition, China has been remarkably self- contained. It seems to have an artificial horizon that allows it to be content within its own sphere and to internalize its upheavals rather than export them. It rejects what it calls "power politics," and shuns alliances. Of the almost 2.5 million soldiers of the world's largest army, it has detailed only 32 for international peacekeeping duties, fewer than provided by Estonia. After going to war in Korea, India, and Vietnam, it simply withdrew, as if it found existence beyond its borders painful.
However, he also finds reason to ask whether this situation will persist or whether China might have or develop larger ambitions that would be a threat to the West.
Jian Ying analyzes the issue as well and notes some of the concerns:
China's rise worries some observers and policy-makers. Various 'China threat' theories have emerged, such as environmental threat, energy threat and food threat. The most worrisome, however, are China's 'military threat' and 'economic threat.' Of the two, the 'economic threat' is more controversial, mainly because it is relatively less value-oriented. While some claim that unfair Chinese competition is annihilating U.S. manufacturing industry and the Chinese are 'stealing American jobs,' others argue that this assertion 'is almost entirely false.' It is noted that to say China is an economic threat to the United States is similar to labeling Japan a big threat in the 1980s.
The threat is thus more a perception than a reality at the present time, and it is also impossible to see what will happen in the next few years that might shift this perception one way or the other. In that sense, any threat cannot be avoided but only observed until the West is more certain that there really is a threat.
Anderson, J.G. "Tensions across the Straight: China's Military Options Against Taiwan Short of War." Heritage Foundation Backgrounder (September 28, 1999), 1-9.
Ask Dr. Foreign Relations." Time (23 June 1997), 23.
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Yates, Stephen J. "Punishing the Victim: The Clinton Administration's Rebuke of Taiwan." Heritage Foundation Backgrounder (August 3, 1999), 1-2.
Ying, Jian."The Security Implications Jian Yang Discusses the Impact of China's Phenomenal Economic Growth on Its Approach to International Affairs." New Zealand International Review, Volume 31, Issue 5 (2006), 12-15.
Ask Dr. Foreign Relations," Time (23 June 1997), 23.
China.CIA World Factbook (2008), http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ch.html#Trans.
Carl Goldstein, "Changing Showcase," Far Eastern Economic Review (November 1992), 48-50.
Lance Compa, "Labor Rights and Labor Standards in International Trade," Law and Policy in International Business 25 (Fall 1993), 165.
Stephen J. Yates, "Punishing the Victim: The Clinton Administration's Rebuke of Taiwan," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder (August 3, 1999), 1-2.
J.G. Anderson, "Tensions across the Straight: China's Military Options Against Taiwan Short of War," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder (September 28, 1999), 1.
R.A. Scalapino, "The End of Communism in Asia: What Next?," Current (September 1995), 19.
Emma V. Broomfield, "Perceptions of Danger: The China Threat Theory," Journal of Contemporary China 12(35)(2003), 266.
Vincent Cable and Peter Ferdinand, "China as an Economic Giant: Threat or Opportunity?," International Affairs 70(2)(April 1994), 243.
Gerald Segal, "Does China Matter?," Foreign Affairs 78(5)(September/October 1999), 29.
Zang Xiaowei, "Dores China Matter? A Reassessment," Journal of Contemporary Asia, 132.
Mark Helprin, "The Threat That Blows from China," National Review (March 20, 2000), 36.
Jian Ying, "The Security Implications Jian Yang Discusses the Impact of China's Phenomenal Economic…[continue]
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