The rise of the military in China: what’s next for the United States
The rise of China causes an impact that many analyze as a discombobulating issue for the United States and its allies. For this past century, the United States has arguably been considered the world superpower and the maintainer of international order. The idea of another sovereign state such as China expanding global influence in regions like the South China Sea and their recent construction of a military base in Djibouti strikes American military personnel as an assault over global hegemony. However, will the rise of China inevitably create military conflict between the two nations? The United States values power and security; thus, any competition that threatens their national interests will encounter reciprocity of equal measure.
A seemingly unstoppable rising China on the course for collision with the United States is a fear in the international community. China has recently constructed the largest navy surpassing the United States. From a neorealist approach to the situation, the United States will be put in a security dilemma as they attempt to match China’s growing navy. During the Obama administration, China had promised the United States that they would not employ military assets to artificial islands along the south china sea. However, in recent years, Chinese officials have acknowledged the deployment of missiles militarizing the islands. The United States must not trust China since the nations seem willing to do whatever it takes to secure their self-interests. If the Chinese continue to escalate their influence and produce naval assets, the United States will have no choice but to find a solution to mitigate China’s asymmetric advantage. Either the United States will run into an arms race to halt the Chinese global advance, or the nation will respond in a neoliberalist fashion calling upon allies such as Japan and South Korea for collective security measures.
According to Henry Wang, founder and President of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing has stated that China has no interest in destroying the world order, as the United States has established. Firstly, China has benefited from globalization and trade; hence, why disrupt a platform that serves the nation’s interest? However, China hopes to construct new international structures such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). AIIB is a multilateral organization whose task and purpose is building infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. The logic of learning and creating purpose/cause from experience is the concept of constructivism. China wants to construct a world based on the fabricate that is already established. A Chinese superpower appears different than the neorealist perspective of power coming through military might and achieving spheres of influence through securing assets in different regions. China is gaining power in an unorthodox manner, using soft power to their advantage by establishing more than 500 Confucius Institutes around the world- teaching Chinese culture and language. An additional stretch can be seen by holding smaller countries accountable for debts to bid them to China’s will. Western theorists have trouble explaining China’s foreign policy, which may lead to misunderstanding of the nation’s intentions, thus creating an escalation for conflict with America and its allies.
The United States values the power and security of its assets; thus, any competition that threatens their national interest will encounter reciprocity of equal measure. The United States seems to be falling into a trap. Thucydides trap occurs when a rising power threatens to displace the ruling power. It was quoted by the historian Thucydides that “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The United States is falling into the footsteps of history as it has no concrete strategy to moderate the expansion of Chinese global influence. Thus, creating possible military escalation solely on paranoia and the pride of being displaced as the world’s superpower has been the nation’s reaction.
Featured graphic by Jiselle Santos