China as Rising Power

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The rise of China to prominence has had a massive impact on Asia-Pacific regional issues as well as global politics. Despite the fact that China's rise to power has been largely peaceful, this is likely to change in the future as the global and regional partners continue to have different reactions to the country's growing might. This case study examines China's rise to control at three levels: domestic, local, and global.  In so doing the case study examines the impact of the rise of China to superpower could have to its region as well as the world. China has let its rise to power to have a negative connotation. All these are because of aggressiveness China portrays towards its neighbor. In my view, China should establish its role and how it intends to impact the world. This case study ascertains that the rise of China to superpower has resulted in negative impact on the relations in the region and worldwide. It also provides clarity for the necessity of China to change its approach. The rise of China to power might have a long lasting impact on world affairs and international corporations as we know it.


China is the country with world’s most substantial population. It is also characterized by world’s fastest growing economy and a defense occupying the second position after the United States. Therefore, it is a rising power. The rise of China to power is something of great concern in this twenty-first century. It is playing a significant role in the world affairs and is the subject of the discussion in many states political and defense agendas. In just a few years ago, China moved from a state of isolation, with little worldwide interaction, to a state of political and economic interests across the globe, from Arica, Latin America, to its backyard. In the coming years, with this continued trend it might be the country with the most significant economic, to maintain the building of global naval force and also be the essential party in politics of the world. The effect of the rise of China is in every part of the continent, and Western observers are becoming nervous every day. (Callahan 2005, p.705).

The rise of China is affecting both the regional relations in South Asia and world affairs. The power balance in the Southeast has changed because many states are worried about rising power status of the China and the use of this power especially with its advance in the military. China is continuing to develop an aggressive agenda over the territories in ongoing disputes, such as the South China Sea conflict. As a result, many countries neighboring China have extended their relationships to their countries because the reliance on China is very unpredictable due to its fast rising power. The case study explores the rise of China power using the classic realism and classical liberalism (Hauser and Kernic 2009).

A liberal perspective

There is different perspective about the rise of China. For instance, liberals believe in a democratic peace and interdependence. They also acknowledge the availability of state actors, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in the international system. Basing on this view, neoliberals which refer to liberals who put more emphasis on economic integration view rise of China as integration into a peaceful order of the world through diplomatic engagement, commercial and a web of normative obligations. Liberal theorists argue that the contribution of China to pro-western international set up institutions such as the World Bank Group (WBG), International Monetary Fund (IMF) among others is not most like to conflict with status quo powers which are in the international system. The membership of China with a global organization is twice in the past twenty years, with existence in over fifty international agencies and many regional organizations.

President Xi Jinping asked people to pay attention to the contribution of Chinese to regional and international organizations as well as the commitment of the country to the norms and rules of these groups. The involvement of China in global agencies conforms to liberal views on cooperation, economic integration, and interdependence. Economic interdependence minimizes the risks associated with conflict. Therefore, liberals have a belief that if China maintains its trade with countries the United States and Japan, chances of disputes arising from military based issues are few. Japan remains Chinas most favorite trading partner even though the two countries were once adversaries in the period of Pacific war.

China has also had also come up with free trade agreements with organizations such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Basing on the commitment of China to free-market economics, most people who are liberal theorists argue that democratization of the political system of China is just near. The actions of China do not conform to radical views when it comes to political integration, but instead, they seem to fit assumptions of realists of China. The words of the former British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Pattern during an interview with BBC were that the success of China promotes the idea that individual could get rich by not necessarily getting democracy.

Even though China still under the one-party system, some liberals they hold a view that Chinese leaders try to make the government more transparent by becoming more open to public opinion and ensuring there is a conducive environment for freedom of the press. They also assert that Chinese Communist Party (CPP) leaders have got no intention of introducing the multi-party system. Minxin Pei, a Chinese scholar, revealed that the CPP is looking forward to enlightening Chinese people that their government is entirely into an international community. China is not so much full democracy and the liberals argue that the given Chinas free trade agreements with neighboring countries and beyond, the possibility of the power struggle in the international system is legible. Chinas achievement in the world arena has paved for liberal scholars across the globe to agitate for the more democratic system of governance.

A realist perspective

China claims that its rise is associated with peace and development but Western powers such as U.S remain skeptical and have also controlled and keenly follow Chinas actions. Realists such as Kenneth Waltz and Hans Morgenthau that hold a view that the expansion of the Chinas military suggests a hegemonic pursuit. The two realists also believe that global systems are anarchic and that the high powers are in a competition to get dominant over others. A Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) known as Namrata Goswami foresees that China will be even more aggressive in East Asia. The military spending of China exceeded that of U.S by over $70billion according to report handed over to the United States Congress by the Defense Department in 2009. The report also came into conclusion that military forces of China have come up with disruptive technologies whose implications are beyond the Asia-Pacific region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a declaration of the “Chinese Dream” which is grand national resurgence process as a superpower in November 2012. It prompted an assertion of the retired Chinese Colonel Liu Mindful of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that China should overtake the U.S as the enormous military power in the world. Such controversial remarks coming from the Chinese leaders continue to promote realists assumptions that China is an attempt to acquire the dominance and the order of the world. Basing on the realists perspective that nation act only in their interest and compete for power in the zero-sum game, the continued approach of China to dominance over Taiwan its association with repressive regimes like Iran, Russia and Korea back realists claim that the rise of China might result into conflict with status –quo great powers.

A realist scholar known as John Mearsheimer proposes that if China maintains its expansion of military capabilities, it will be”an aggressive state determined to achieve regional hegemony.” This scholar also holds a view that the U.S policies to promote trade with China are “misguided and doomed to fail” and the scholar advocates strict scrutiny of Chinese policies by the U.S. The U.S strategy to contain China has received criticism from the countries such as South Korea which trading partner and staunch ally of China. For example, an Australian known as Alexander Downer warned former United States secretary of states, Condoleezza Rice against any attempt to contain China.

The similarities and differences between classical realism and classical liberalism

The classical realism includes various schools of thought. Even though realist has same views on anarchy and selfish nature of nations, classical realists argue that the behavior of the country is determined by fear, history, and uncertainty. Classical realists such as Edward H. Carr emphasize politics, domestic and international and even consider the role of like norms, legitimacy, and ideas. Therefore, classical realism might give a more rational perspective of the rise of China as the world power. In the article “The tragedy of offensive realism: Classical realism and rise of China” written by Jonathan Kirshner he notes that there is nothing that can make people believe that if China is a rational actor, with a motivation to survive, it will focus on the bid for hegemony (Legro 2007 p.703).


In conclusion, if the rise of China is not monitored in the coming future its relationship with its Southeast Asia neighbors will continue to feel the negative impact as a result. In fact, there is the frosty relationship between China and its Southeast Asian neighbor because of the expansion of Chinas power. As demonstrated in my case study, Southeast Asian countries have started to take an initiative of isolating themselves from China, and they can no longer rely on the rising power of China. Each state is out to improve its international ties with the outside countries such as the United States, which is among the few nations with the ability to counter Chinese power. They also rely on each other through organizations such as ASEAN. Some countries are out to strengthen their militaries in response to the rising power of China.

The territorial disputes between China and its neighbor have also hurt the diplomatic relations. Tense military and broke diplomatic ties could at one point come to affect the sound economic ties that exist among these countries. If China does not come up with measures that will help to improve the diplomatic relationship with its neighbors, it will face a lot of difficulty working with many of its neighbors. China should always be cautious and less aggressive in the way it demonstrates this rising power. Although the United States is ahead of other countries of the world regarding military force, economic and political, China could pose a significant challenge to the U.S hegemony and the international balance of power. However, the China-US relationship is becoming more significant, as China continues to develop in strength.

There is a likelihood of security in which the two countries interprets each other’s defensive measure could be a threat to its security. This posturing involving the China and United States is in the ongoing South China conflict, where strategic and economic interests are at stakes. China perceived national rights has resulted in it being more aggressive with its neighbors. The tension is high due to the dynamic behavior of China, attempts to secure the alliance and its increasing naval power. The United States involvement in the regional conflict is as a result of the threats China possess on them and also the freedom of navigation. To counter aggression from China, the United States has been actively fostering alliances and relationships in the region, and even the recent one is the announcement of military refocus on the Asia-Pacific region. The rise of China has been described by the classical realism and classical liberalism which hold the different view about the factors and impacts associated with the rise of China.

Callahan, W.A., 2005. The Rise of China: How to understand China: the dangers and opportunities of being a rising power. Review of International Studies, 31(4), p.701.

Deng, Y. and Wang, F.L. eds., 2004. China rising: power and motivation in Chinese foreign policy. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Hauser, G. and Kernic, F. eds., 2009. China: the rising power. Peter Lang.

Kang, D.C., 2008. China rising: peace, power, and order in East Asia. Columbia University Press.

Legro, J.W., 2007. What China will want: the future intentions of a rising power. Perspectives on Politics, 5(3), p.515.

Shambaugh, D.L., 2013. China goes global: The partial power (Vol. 111). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

May 02, 2023

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