For more than two centuries, Americans and Chinese people have played a part in each other’s economical, historical and cultural development. In the nineteenth century, during the Gold Rush, many Chinese people migrated to the United States. They helped in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Later, missionaries went to China where they built schools and universities, which are one of the top educational establishments in China today. Seminal events between the two countries strengthened their relationship. They include the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911. It was the time when China joined hands with the Americans to fight against the Japanese, but Americans emerged victorious. This indicates that Sino – U.S. relations have been a good one and that the two countries have risen together despite the U.S. dominance as a world power (Ciorciari, 2010:73). This article aims at evaluating Meishermer’s argument that the rise of China cannot be peaceful on the global scene. I have used books, journals and credible sources from the internet to address this issue.
China is rising gradually as a world superpower as depicted in a number of ways. First, it has extended its influence on new territories, such as in Africa. The country has also established strong ties with countries that were once allied to the United States (Rein, 2009). This is an indication that when the country gains dominion in these areas, America feels a threat. Secondly, China has become a centre of technological innovation as witnessed by the high value of venture capital invested in the country for the purpose of funding clean technology. Moreover, China is not only reviving itself economically, but also politically. The Chinese economy contributes a lot to the global trade and consequently, the G-20 is gradually replacing the G-8 influence on global matters.
According to Mearsheimer, a powerful nation in a certain region establishes its dominance while ensuring that there is no competition from other areas (Guo, 2006: 141). This is a concept that has a great influence on the correlation between China and the United States. It is apparent that just like any other powerful nation in the world, China aims at making the most of its share as a global power. China’s exceptional growth is a clear indication that it will have dominion over other countries in the Asian continent. As a result, it is highly likely that China’s rise will invoke the United States to oppose any possible moves to have it dominate the Asian block.
International Order and the U.S. Structural Power
The prospect of power transition in the international politics has been changed over the past years. The issue of America’s decline in the international order has always been debatable. This time round, there seem to be substantial claims about the resurfacing of western dominance in the international order. Iraq and Afghanistan have proved the limits of western military power. During fifteen years America was exposed to an economic crisis, which gave the leading and emerging markets an opportunity to arise. At the same time, China’s state-directed capitalism took the opportunity to progress rapidly whilst financing American debt binge (Mearsheimer, 2005:20). Mearsheimer’s argument is an indication of the fact that China will never surpass America in its thirst to establish an international order.
A country’s position in the global hierarchy is the main determinants of its power, defined as the ability to convince an opponent to comply with its demands. The sources of power are usually developmental, this means that they are internal in any state and are a guide to increasing the national power. The state power is a focus on the material capability. It also extends to a country’s capability based on the state population, especially the employed one (Mearsheimer, 2005:20).
The country’s authority is also determined by its political system and its ability to extract and use resources at its disposal, and the state’s level of financial stability or industrialization. Mearsheimer’s argument on the peaceful rise of China reflects a possibility of war connected with China’s efforts to establish an international order. To look at it in another dimension, China and America will employ offensive and defensive strategies respectively in their struggle to gain control over the international order. In that case, there is no power that will overcome the conflict that occurs between the two states. If China’s determination to establish an international order is solely based on material terms and economy, then Mearsheimer’s claims cannot be said to hold (Norrlf, 2010:11).
In his argument Mearsheimer states that for a country to achieve international order, it should have no power above them. They should have a strong military capability to maintain power against all odds. The state should also be as powerful as possible relative to rivals, who might be potential. So far America has achieved international order and structural power. America won the Second World War against Japan and then the Cold War against Russia. It has won the war against terrorism. As clearly demonstrated in the 20th century, America has the determination to maintain international order and power over the whole world (Mearsheimer, 2006:106). This shows the reliability of arguments brought about by Mearsheimer.
Having America as a super power and a backbone of international order, China’s progress will be automatically disruptive for America’s position at the apex of the international hierarchy. Mearsheimer’s arguments will only be appropriate, if China chooses war to claim international and structural order. If in the contemporary system the two greatest powers do not resolve to use force to solve the security and homogeny issues, then Mearsheimer’s arguments will be unsuitable for analyzing China’s drastic rise (Norrlf, 2010:11).
Structural power is the one that governs international regimes and norms that govern international economic relations. States exercise structural power directly in relation to their rivals (Strange, 1996:29). American structural power has proven to be too strong to be shaken by Chinese current progress. According to Mearsheimer, this will certainly explode to a conflict, because the U.S. will never relinquish its powers in favour of China.
Gill (1992:58) looks at U.S. structural power as declining, and, therefore, provides grounds for his views by means of the fact that China can also obtain structural power. His argument is that international power goes beyond military capabilities and economic dominance. It rests in economic power, resources and military, working together. U.S. structural power does not include other powers of production, trade and others. Mearsheimer’s arguments that the rise of China is not a peaceful one does not seem to match this ideology, since economic power does not need to involve a conflict and military intervention (Gills, 1992:58).
Mearsheimer states that policy-makers of the USA will have to respond, if China attempts to take steps in gaining structural power or international authority. This reaction comes from the America’s advantage in structural order and power (Guzzini, 1993:543). America has the power to regulate global economy and, therefore, it possesses the potential to set agenda, to propose and define the structure of the global economy, within which other countries, including China have to operate. This extends to its ability to print the dollar that is used in the world trading, and which other countries cannot produce. America is also a key player in security matters, economic production, finances, credit, intelligence and knowledge (Guzzini, 1993:547).
It is unpredictable, which course China’s progress will follow. However, with the current state of the countries’ devotion to dominating the world, it will be difficult for America to step down for China. It will also be hard for China to prove that it deserves world recognition on the basis of international order. To this point, there is a possibility of an outbreak of conflicts between them; hence, the rise of China will not be peaceful.
The rise of China in a U.S. Hegemonic Global Order
Over the past 115 years, the United States of America policy-makers have worked tirelessly to attain the American hegemony, they have fought wars with such neighbouring states as Mexico and Canada in order to first gain regional hegemony (Mearsheimer, 2006:106). Later they fought the Second World War against Japan and the Cold War against Russia. Their victory in all those wars resulted in the country becoming the world hegemony. This is just an introduction to show how hard it is for another country to try to obtain the same hegemony from the hands of Americans. China’s rise will be faced by a big challenge of America’s dominance. Mearsheimer’s pessimism on the likelihood of a conflict between two states is undoubtedly believable considering America’s dominance over the past years of history (Mearsheimer, 2006:106).
Many countries have attempted to gain world hegemony. Japan, Russia and others used all means to gain power, but after every attempt, they were overcome by the strongest ones. Hegemony can take a number of ways: it can relate to dominance by the use of physical force, by means of ideological and physical leadership, and economic stability and control (Mearsheimer, 2010:131).
Most of China’s neighbours, including Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Australia have already recognized the rapid rise and strength of China in the Asian region. They are most likely to join the current hegemony country, which is America, with intentions to involve China in the control of the Asian region. Contrary to their plans, China, who has already established itself as an equal super power, will not be willing to relent. Mearsheimer’s argument based on the current situation about China’s rise is justified. There will be a possibility of China launching its plans to regain its supremacy in the Asian region and to recapture Taiwan (Mearsheimer, 2006: 160).
In his argument in “The Australian” Mearsheimer goes back to the first Bush administration after the Cold War, which stated that the U.S. was now the most powerful state in the world, and its plans was to remain as it was. He says that the message was later featured in the second Bush administration in September 2002. Therefore, this means that America was not ready to negotiate with China on matters concerning dominion, even if it is in China’s doorsteps (Mearsheimer, 2006: 160).
Contrary to that, Mearsheimer argues that America is a regional hegemony, but not world hegemony. This means that the troops of the U.S. in Asia will be sooner rather than later deployed from there. This gives a fair opportunity for China to rise swiftly and become hegemony in Asia. The status of China’s rise, whether peaceful or not, will be determined by whether America will remove its troops from Asia or otherwise China forces them out (Mearsheimer, 1984:711).
On the other hand, China can allay the fear on its rise by bringing clarity to its neighbours and the United States that it has peaceful intentions. China can prove that it is not intending to use force in order to change the balance of power. This goes opposite with Mearsheimer’s prediction about the possibility of a conflict in the rise of the state of China (Wong, 2010:14). America’s recent behaviour can tell a lot about its future relations with China, if China attempts to become more powerful. From the past behaviour of these two countries, we can conclude that Mearsheimer’s claims are just mere predictions with no basis (Mearsheimer, 2009:6).
It is good to keep in mind that America is still a hegemonic state with the control of the world economy, being the only country, which produces the world trading currency, the dollar. America still holds a bigger part of command over the global politics and policymaking (Geiger, 1988:168). Although much will be said about the Sino-American relations, it is not clear whether the two superpowers will end in a conflict in their quest to get international order and global hegemony. Considering the state of things, there is a speck of truth in Mearsheimer’s argument that there is a possibility of a conflict between China and America. However, all this is dependent on whether China is striving to become a world’s hegemony.
Effects of U.S. – China Relations on Asian Security Order
As China and the United States disagree about concepts and practices from time to time, China has the conviction that its security in Asia is despised. The viewpoint of security dealings between the U.S. and China is likely to monitor political security welfare, as they reckon right, each of them has to adapt to the fast changing economic, political, and security platform in the region and to learn how to live together. If this is to happen, both nations will have to change their security policies in order to adapt to the region’s changing geopolitical dynamics. As a matter of fact, Asia has been facing a security dilemma currently because of the lack of institutions, which make one state be suspicious of other states (Glaser, Will China’s Rise Lead to War?, 2011: p7).
Through the era of the Cold War, the U.S. forged defence treaties with some nations internationally to hunt for a tactical contest with the Soviet Union and to control socialist countries (Glaser, Will China’s Rise Lead to War?, 2011: p2). After the Cold War was over, Washington extended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was in Europe, and re-established its security association with Japan. Since then, U.S. lawmakers have constantly claimed that security associations, and deployments of forward armed forces are the foundation for the U.S. security plan in the Asia-Pacific.
On the other hand, the Chinese outlook perceives that security treaties are remnants of bloc politics and the Cold War. As such, after the end of the Cold War and the fail of the Soviet Union, there ought to be no reason to conserve military blocs. China has the conviction that security can be never followed either through security alliances or an extreme military build-up, while military blocs are searching for security of some nations, they destabilize that of others, causing suspicion and later division, or even sometimes encourage a conflict among local states. As such, China supports the substitution of the military with regular state-to-state associations, and with an emphasis on enhancing and improving economic and political relations.
Up-to-date, the U.S. has been spotted as one playing a major role in maintaining a reliable security plan in Asia since the end of the Vietnam War. On the other hand, China has also been in the forefront to ensure that there is peace and stability. Apart from contributing to peace, it has also been a major beneficiary from it. The effects of the U.S.-China relations that have been felt in this region are that the area has been able to maintain peace and there is peaceful resettlement (IRChina, 2012: p14).
Korea’s Nuclear Gamble
Ambitions of North Korea has triggered the conflict with the United States, and threatened the interests of China, which in turn has stressed the ties between Beijing and Pyongyang. This is an association that already had been linked with mutual mistrust. At the same time, the law set forth by the USA of not offering positive inducements and security warranty to Pyongyang until it reverses all actions, the USA has other view contrary to the earlier negotiations and assumes Pyongyang to be neither a productive policy, nor a realistic one. At the same time, China views itself as being entangled in between a difficult situation irrespective of the fact that it is more inclined to the sobriety of Pyongyang than that of the United States (State Institute of Peace, 2012: p2). As such, China face a series of complicated and prickly possibilities with results ranging from nuclear weapons and the Korean peninsula race in Asia to the global confusing confirmation regime.
Taiwan Regional Issue
There have been territorial disagreements over the South and East China Sea, as well as the Taiwan’s future issue. Territory conflicts are matters, over which nations engage in war. A failure to decide on the Taiwan’s future connection with the mainland serenely is perhaps the basis of a crash in the U.S.-China relationship. In past forty years, there has been an affirmative development in cross-strait relationships. An armed forces disagreement imitative of China’s national war has involved more and more productive financial and social transactions between the mainland and the island (State Institute of Peace, 2012: p1).
There are also open political conflicts among leaders in Beijing and Taipei. The main problem to all three involved parties is facilitating additional demilitarization. The U.S. is expected to do what it can to support a political resolution satisfactory to both Taipei and Beijing. Now, China regards Taiwan as a “zizhiqu,” which means it is an independent territory. If realism is outlined relating to this idea, there will be possibly a positive development of the existing circumstances (Glaser, Will China’s Rise Lead to War?, 2012: p9). The most expensive result for all those concerned perhaps will be an increase of political nervousness and a revisit of the military disagreement.
Effects of U.S. – China Relations on International Security
Currently, the U.S. has the most dominant military globally. Nevertheless, it persists to spend greatly on its security industries to create even more complicated weapons, in order to keep its power in both conformist and tactical military hardware (Glaser, Will China’s Rise Lead to War?, 2012: p16). Additionally, Washington strives to extend both national theatre missile defence (TMD) and missile defence (NMD) systems, defending itself from potential attacks by other nations. After the U.S. has improved its defensive and offensive capacities, its safety is superior.
Nonetheless, this kind of independent security is at the expenditure of the safety of other countries. The Chinese claim that safety is mutual, and that when one side tries to pursue its security, it has to consider the effects on the security of the rest. In other words, while any state has the legal right to enlarge its defensive and offensive capacities as it reckons fit, a reliable power should not seek unilateral security and support common security in its place. In this consideration, China disapproved the U.S. efforts to build TMD and NMD, as these might weaken both local and global strategic steadiness (IRChina, 2012: p8).
Satirically, the U.S. has used power more frequently for the last decade than during the Cold War (IRChina, 2012: p10). In China’s perception, defence can be improved by advancing political relations, developing economic dealings and practising safety co-operation, such as confidence-building measures (CBMs) transparency, and military-to-military associations. China supposes that excessive dependence on military techniques is both unsupportive for resolving conflicts and runs contradictory to the current drift of peace and growth in the Post-Cold War environment (Mearsheimer, The Gathering Storm: China’s Challenge to US Power in Asia, 2010: p4).
Will the Rise of China Lead to War?
China is currently the fastest growing nation globally having the best rising military budget. It has numerous weapons, some boundary disputes with most of its neighbours, and the hastily improving military that within just a few years will be able to decide old fights in its favour. On the other hand, the United States has been the world’s leading economy more than a century, but presently skyrocketing China might dislocate it in the near future as the leading world economy (Mearsheimer-China’s Unpeaceful Rise, 2006: 160).
The softening of China-U.S. affairs had a huge effect on the global development. For example, in 1971 the United Nations approved with irresistible majority votes a declaration on re-establishing China’s legal position in the United Nations. China’s global position was greatly enhanced. Its associations with the rest third world nations experienced vast growth, both economic and political. It totally supported Africa, Asia, and Latin America in their unwavering fight against colonialism, imperialism and control. In all these China assisted third world nations in boosting their economy and their plea for founding a new global fiscal order, winning trust and support of these nations (Mearsheimer-China’s Unpeaceful Rise, 2006: 161).
This made many developing countries in Africa and Asia enter into diplomatic relations with China. Additionally, there was a breakthrough in China’s dealings with countries in Latin American, as China set diplomatic ties with thirteen Latin American nations, including Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela (Mearsheimer, The Gathering Storm: China’s Challenge to US Power in Asia, 2010: 50). After establishing diplomatic relations between China and other third world nations, many leaders of developing countries could not visit China, something that greatly contributed to the growth of dealings between developing nations and China (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Republic of China, 2011: p2).
The results of China’s rise will depend on how well the United States and Chinese leaders will take care of the entire situation and not on pressures created by the intercontinental system. A major conflict between the two nations can be prevented by means of the U.S. adjusting to emerging global conditions making some prickly dispensations and avoiding exaggerating dangers (Landsberg, 2012: p2). Presently, the United States ought not to exaggerate threats posed by China through its power and build-up of the armed forces, but should instead be sensitive to the likelihood that they simply mirror China’s justified desire for security (China Daily, 2011: p4).
If there is nothing that will be done by the leaders of the two nations, realists claim that China’s fast-growing strength will make it pursue its concerns assertively. This will make the United States and other nations balance against it. This will undoubtedly generate a parallel to the Cold War confrontation between the Soviet Union and the U.S., and possibly even a hegemonic war. The increasing close relations between the United States and India and the recent China’s maritime claims in the South China seas and the East China Sea have been spotted as one of the main indicators of the cycle of assertiveness. The argument is that now balancing has already started (Glaser, 2012: p8).
In the same way as the United States controls the western Hemisphere, China will also try to dominate Asia. Precisely, China will strive to maximize the authority gap between itself and all its neighbours, especially Russia and Japan. It seems that China will never pursue military supremacy to enable it to go for a rampage and conquer other Asian nations, despite the fact that that can be possible. Instead, it is likely that it will seek to dictate borders of the acceptable code of behaviour to its neighbouring countries, in the same way as the U.S. clarifies to its neighbours that it is the boss. Gaining regional dominion is actually the only way that China can get Taiwan back (Mearsheimer, China’s Unpeaceful Rise, 2006: 62).
Powerful China is also likely to drive the United States out of Asia, just like the U.S. pushed the European power off the western hemisphere. Additionally, it is also expected that China might come up with its version of the Monroe Doctrine, just like Japan did in 1930s (Mearsheimer, 2006: 62). Another factor that can lead to war is that powerful China will never want a stronger U.S. army to work behind its backyard. Similarly, the United States will not stand watching China taking over softly. Therefore, this will lead to a conflict between the two global financial giants (Mearsheimer, 2004: p12).
It has been found that China and the United States have shared seminal events, which have helped to strengthen and at the same time to weaken their relationship. China is gradually rising economically, politically and technologically, thereby heading to become a world superpower. This has been witnessed through an increase in its influence in many parts of the world, especially African countries, where it is undertaking major investments and infrastructural development projects. In order to retain its glory and dominion as a superpower, America will not welcome the idea of the unprecedented growth of China. This is the reason why the study has established that the rise of China will not be peaceful at all.