Sunday, May 29, 2005

Another article on China's rising power: David Wall

I recently noted Robert Kagan's argument concerning the likelihood of conflict stemming from a China rising in economic and therefore political and military power. Kagan's reasoning was premised upon the empirical fact that:

"Rarely have rising powers risen without sparking a major war that reshaped the international system to reflect new realities of power."

Now, an article by David Wall in The Japan Times presents similar worries:

"Although Premier Wen Jiabao recently said China has no aspirations of becoming a regional hegemon, he was being a little naive. China's rising influence in Asia has already given it a great power role verging on hegemony, helped by at least 350 nuclear-weapon-tipped missiles pointed at Taiwan and maybe Japan, too."

Wall appears convinced by the neoconservative argument of the sort presented by Kagan. At any rate, he cites John J. Mearsheimer's view that on the inevitability of a U.S.-China war, summarizng it as follows:

"[T]he absence of a world power, an enforcing agency, means that states are free to press their own interests in an anarchic international system of sovereign states. If a hegemon [e.g., the U.S.] emerges in this system, it will seek to maintain its status by seeking to suppress the rise of new hegemons [e.g., China] . . . . [An] existing . . . hegemon will need to prevent the development of any hegemonic power in regions outside its own -- by war if need be, if other forms of containment prove ineffective."

This doesn't sound good. Wall concludes, however, in a somewhat less than apocalyptic tone:

"It will not be a military war, however. Apart from some local skirmishes, the real war will be in the economy and in cyberspace."

That sounds encouraging . . . until we begin to think about where such a "local skirmish" might take place . . .


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