“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon was correct with his prognosis made over 200 years ago – China is no longer sleeping she is awakening, she has not yet fully awoken and thus is yet to reach full economic and military strength. China was not successfully unified (completely) until Mao’s communist revolution victory in 1949 when he overthrew the Chinese nationalists. Mao’s communist government remained in place unchallenged until his death in 1976. Post 1976 each successive leader moved further and further right, and so now the political system in China can be classified as authoritarian and is often likened to ‘fake communism’ due to its shift right.
China is a relatively new power, a new power that has developed faster than any other nation of its age on earth. China has grown at such a high rate because of its authoritarian government, the bureaucracy of democracy is non-existent. Take HS2 in the UK, the red tape change causes mean improving transport links takes years to even get started. In China if the government wants a new railway it builds it the following day. It’s this philosophy that has allowed China to grow economically at an exponential rate. China’s economic growth is over double that of the USA’s, China is second to the USA in military spending, and geographically its position is strong.
So, what does this mean for the west and the rest of the world? Does China present a threat? Will the world soon become bi-polar again?
China has grow at the rate it has through trade. Cheap labour and little health and safety laws allow China to produce goods at a very low cost, arguably the cheapest on the planet. This means China is dependent on the European Union and other HIC’s (High Income Countries) that aren’t in the union to feed there GDP. China cannot afford to go to war and act aggressively with the planet, not yet anyway. The rest of the world is equally dependent on China, there are few nations that do not import huge amounts of products from China. The peacefulness of China’s rise is shown through the return of Hong Kong to the British in 1997, China’s recent declaration of war on ISIS, and China’s efforts in getting the Taliban and Afghan government to talk and solve things peacefully. Sound like a nation wanting to declare ‘World War Three’?
China’s recent action in the South China Sea I hea you cry, that’s aggressive and expansionist, that’s how the Cold War began – when the USSR expanded into what would become its Satellite States. The world has changed, the planet is now globalised, a war like the Cold War will never be fought again, modern technology prevents it. The world does not want another Cold War, and if there was an attempt by the Chinese to start a War or Cold War with the west, the west would win very quickly. The technology of the Chinese government is not yet advanced enough to take on the might of the USA, China’s governments computer systems run off a pirated version of Windows XP – an Operating System designed in the late 90s and released in 2000. In contrast the USA’s systems run off a highly customised system based on Linux (a highly modifiable powerful system).
So you say China wont start a war with the West and if it did the West would win? Then what are the consequences of its recent expansion? What happens if China expands more? They’ve already took over Tibet and have recently been increasing their presence in Africa. The Chinese aren’t stupid, they know how far they can go unchallenged. They’ve took over a few minor Islands in the sea that used to belong to China, the only threat to China is Japan.
The Sino-Japanese relationship is by no means a happy one, Japan’s recent reconciliation with South Korea could be seen as a warning for China. The Japanese have neither the funds nor desire to go to war with China, they know there western allies would not support them and that they would be crushed – even with the help of South Korea. Xi Jinping knows this and will go on to increase China’s presence in the South China Sea to ensure China’s security, this will have little or few consequences globally.
My approach in this article has predicted that there will be little or no threat from the Chinese and that the nation will grow and rise peacefully. I maintain this view. China has massive internal issues that will take decades to fix. However, as China achieves full superpower status it is probable that its leadership will change which could cause more western confrontation.
So what is a superpower? Simply, a superpower is a nation that exerts high global influence and can use such influence to turn events unilaterally in its favour. As Chinas economy grows so will its power and military, I have no doubt the world will again be bi-polar and that the two powers will be the USA and China. However I predict economic parity between the two nations will not be reached until 2050 at the earliest, military parity much sooner possibly 2035. Xi Jinping is 62, by 2050 even by Chinese standards it is unlikely that he will still be in power, a more aggressive leader may follow who could change the direction of the nation. I thus predict that China will rise to become a superpower peacefully and with little opposition, after that who knows what the world will be like, however some kind of conflict with the USA is inevitable. For the first two thirds of this century we are safe from China, its after that that things will change. The 22nd century will be the century of China and the east, for now the west will remain the dominant force.
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