Power Transition Theory and U.S.-China Relations

January 13, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science, International Relations
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Power Transition Theory and U.S.-China Relations Professor David Skidmore September 28, 2010 University of Macau

A Chinese View of the United States

U.S. Worries about China

An Inside View of Obama-Hu Talks.

Political scientist John Mearsheimer “China cannot rise peacefully. “ “… I am not arguing that Chinese behavior alone will drive the security competition that lies ahead. The United States is also likely to behave in aggressive ways …”

More Mearsheimer • “… the United States labored for more than a century to gain regional hegemony … it has made sure that no other great power dominated either Asia or Europe the way it dominates the Western Hemisphere. …”

China’s “Monroe Doctrine” • “A much more powerful China can also be expected to try to push the United States out of the Pacific-Asia region, much the way the United States pushed the European great powers out of the Western Hemisphere in the nineteenth century. We should expect China to come up with its own version of the Monroe Doctrine.”

Assessing Power Transition Theory • Will China overtake the United States in national power? • Will China seek to overturn the existing international or regional order? • Can a US-China “cold war” be averted?

Economy • China’s economy will overtake US economy in overall output and will dominate Asian region • http://www.mint.com/blog/trends/gdp-percountry-08182010/

Constraints on Chinese Economic Power • US will remain much richer on per capita basis: Chinese per capita income from 7% of US per capita income today to 54% in 2050. • China’s economic growth rate will slow. • Biggest reason: demographics – Today: 70% of Chinese of working age – support 30% who are young or old

Uncertainties • Economic trends can change rapidly • In 1990, no one predicted stagnation in Japan or rapid growth in India

US-China Military Balance

Military Power • US military spending roughly equal to rest of world combined • US has troops in approximately 120 countries and significant bases in around 60 • US has military alliances with dozens of countries • US has eleven aircraft carrier groups (China is developing first)

Chinese Strategic Problems • Surrounded by 14 countries who need reassurance • Depends on oil and other resources imported along sea lanes controlled by US Navy • Flashpoints: Taiwan, North Korea, South China Sea, disputed border with India • US military has technological lead and capacity to increase spending

Chinese Military Strategy • • • •

Develop “blue water” navy Missile and rocket technology Cyber and space warfare Increase domestic production capacity in military goods • Reduce size of ground forces while improving quality

Chinese Intentions • “Peaceful rise” or “Peaceful development” • “China will never seek hegemony.”

US Attitude Toward China’s Rise • http://jp.reuters.com/news/video?videoChan nel=2604&videoId=730324 • “power is no longer a zero-sum game”

Historical Cases • Germany and Japan’s strategies of expansion in first half of 20th century led to ruin • Soviet Union’s arms race with US led to bankruptcy and dissolution • Japan’s economic rise stalled in 1980s • Britain accommodated US rise

Reasons to think China’s Rise might be peaceful • China has benefitted from existing international order • International order built upon institutions that are “easy to join, hard to overturn” (G. John Ikenberry) • China aware that expansionist policies will produce balancing coalition among neighbors who can rely upon US for support

Reasons to think China’s rise might not be peaceful • China might wish to change international order created and controlled by West • China might not be trusted by West because it is not democracy • Need for raw materials leads to conflict over resources, sea lanes, etc. • Internal instability leads to nationalist mobilization

Will US seek to “contain” China? • • • • •

US does not have ability to contain China US depends on China for goods and finance US corporations heavily invested in China US needs Chinese cooperation on many issues Comparisons to Soviet Union: no ideological challenge, no serious military challenge, far more interdependent (80,000 Chinese students in US)

Conclusions • • • • •

Is US-China conflict inevitable? Is US-China conflict possible? Is US-China conflict avoidable? Structure versus choice Unpredictability of future

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