PDF Playing Our Game: Why Chinas Rise Doesnt Threaten the West

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  3. Edward Steinfeld;

Actions Shares. But we are entering the danger period.

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And we're entering the danger period because China has advanced so far, so quickly. In the rising power, you have strong constituencies that are tied up in the investment and effort to acquire capabilities, which say, 'what's the point of acquiring all of these capabilities, if you don't use them? And meanwhile, in the status quo power, what was once a very clear and unambiguous lead in all of these key areas from economic strength and competitiveness, to high tech to military capacity, as the gap narrows, anxiety begins to increase.

We have to assert ourselves now to make clear who's in charge, or to make clear what the rules are. What's happening in the surrounding region is that, again I think one most usefully must resort to the realism that political scientists speak of. The neighboring powers are watching kind of anxiously to understand which way the wind blows. And so, how did they respond to this? Well the first thing they want to do is to avoid having to explicitly choose sides.

Australia plays in this game. Magistad : You mentioned an important point in your book, which is, if China doesn't show respect for the rules and norms of the region, it pretty much encourages those countries to seek assistance, to seek support, to seek backup from the United States, and that actually plays against China's interests. How much do you think China's leaders are aware of that? He's basically a strategic thinker.

And he's developed a theory, which is not exclusive to China, but describes a mentality or mindset that's common to very fast rising powers, as they begin to emerge, and to begin to more and more obviously contend with the status quo power. The point he's trying to make is that rising this far this fast is a giddy experience. And amid the giddiness that you experience during this rise, caution and all sorts of other perspectives are kind of lost. And so, you are not likely to be terribly perceptive of the cost that you may incur by offending other people, meaning in this case, your immediate neighbors, much smaller countries, because you think that when you rise as far and as fast as a country like China has risen, that this is an affirmation of your correctness.

China's rise as economic, military and political power

So the next 10 years could be very messy, by accident or by design, to one degree or another. China could push in a way that involves hard power, to make gains in the immediate region at the expense of the status quo powers, most importantly for this conversation, the United States and Japan, which are the most important status quo powers in the region. And there could be a war.

Or there could be at least some more limited form of conflict that could be ugly and very dangerous. You can imagine a leadership that says 'look, in years, we can be down to 2 to 3 percent economic growth per year. This is the moment when we have to go we have to make our big push. We have to lock in whatever gains we can lock in right now, meaning in the next 10 years. Still, I'm hopeful that we'll muddle through.


Once we're past this transitional period of 10, maybe 15 years, then other things begin to happen. And so, if we get past this transitional period of 10 or 15 years, I'm very hopeful that China will say, 'listen, the status quo isn't as bad as we thought it was. We don't need to be such a grudging, victim-centric country.

We've done well.

The Rise and Fall of Soft Power

We've come a long way. Magistad: So what should the United States do during this somewhat tricky period, to minimize the risk of conflict? French: So I don't think there's any prospect of the United States handing over power by any kind of deliberative process. We're very far from any such imaginable scenario. The United States has been very slow, and one could say grudging, in terms of allowing China a greater voice in institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

For an economy of China's size, I think there's a very clear argument that China deserves a much bigger voice in institutions like that. This is a very low cost way of making China feel like it has more of a stake in the workings of the international system that we largely designed. Conventional wisdom holds that China's burgeoning economic power has reduced the United States to little more than a customer of Beijing.

Not so, writes Edward Steinfeld. In this fascinating book, Steinfeld asserts that China's growth actually enhances American commercial supremacy.