The China Paradox: Why America is Worried About China
Previously published on May 12, 2010
The Golden Age of America began when World War Two left the United States a military, industrial, and diplomatic superpower. Since then, America has used its influence to reshape the international community to one where democracy, i.e. the rights and freedoms of all Peoples, can thrive. At the end of the Cold War, American-style free-market capitalism had outlasted Soviet Union communism. Consequently, the democratic ideals, which supported this economic view, were safe. With communist China rapidly expanding from the strength of free-market capitalism bolstered by socialist programs, the United States and its fundamental democratic ideals could be at risk.
America was once the world's largest producer, yet China has surpassed it as the world's largest manufacturer. Despite the fact America continues to be the largest economy in the world, exploding deficits, economic instability, and legacy costs leave the United States struggling to compete and grow in a world gunning for the decline of American power. China, which is the largest nation and fastest growing economy, represents the most credible economic threat. From the American perspective, this is a very real potential danger that could affect the entire international community in the long run.
Furthermore, US history is relatively short, thus America defines itself with a national identity associated with democracy; whereas, China has a very long history, so it does not need to define its self as a champion of the People. Democracy versus communism to the Chinese culture is more or less another era in an ancient land while their communist government certainly does not espouse the same views on human rights and civil liberties. In addition, China does not generally concern itself with the interest of Western allies; therefore, China cannot be relied upon once it reaches superpower status to maintain a healthy exchange in the international community.
Meanwhile, China is also a growing military power with an enormous population. As food, water, and energy demands, as well as costs, grow beyond the capacity of the Chinese government to provide for their People, China will be more likely to exercise its power to obtain what it needs. Preparing for this potential inevitability, it is working to weaken the relative power of world leaders as it builds its own alliances. In all, the greatest threat to America is the instability this would create for the international community as well as the decline of Western nations and our allies in Asia.
Moreover, China is seeking to become at least one of the world's superpowers. To achieve its goal, it must grow as an economic, military, and diplomatic superpower. At the same time, the Chinese government needs allies, which are devoted to its ideology, not Western views, while threats such as the US, India, and Japan must be weakened to balance our power. Although the US and China have common interests, differences in world views make success for one a threat to the other and vice versa.