To what extent can China be classed as a superpower
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China has the fastest growing economy and what soon to be a biggest military budget. It has nuclear weapons, border disputes with most of its neighbor and a rapidly improving army, which in a decade or so might be able to solve old problems in its own favor. The USA had a largest economy over hundred years but at present trajectories China may displace in the first half of the century and become the number one economy in the world. China is an economic giant and potential military colossus bent on the modernizing its maritime and air capabilities.
China’s rise and attempts to become a global power on par with the USA created fears and disputes with its neighbors especially Russia which shares four-thousand-mile border with China; Japan nearby in the China sea; and the USA mainly over human rights. China tries to reduce those states’ fears insisting on being a peaceful power interested in economic benefits. China asserts that while it wants other countries to respect communist government due a great power, it seeks peaceful relations with all.
In 1994 it signed an agreement with Russia to prevent accidental military clashes between countries and later in 1997 it formalized to ensure Russian acceptance by signing new strategic treaty of alliance for mutual defense. Same year, 1997, China courted a partnership with America; at an Washington Summit Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged to seek “common interest despite differences” in order to “share responsibility for preserving world peace and stability in the 21st century”, and to highlight Chinese sincerity pledged to stop nuclear aid and chemical exports and end of sale of cruise missiles to Iran.
The reason of Chinese government trying to be friends with America and prevent a new Cold War is that it fears of US creating “web” of Anti-Chinese alliances around China, as it did with USSR, and fear that USA has only one goal – “the hegemonic domination of the world”. After the inadvertent bombing of Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Chinese authority would like US to listen to its scholars who claim that “Increasingly political pressures are pushing the USA toward a self-fulfilling prophecy: Treat China as if it is inevitably hostile and dangerous, and it is more likely to become hostile and dangerous”.
This means that USA should stop treating China as hostile state, otherwise it will get hostile and dangerous. Increasing military spending raised concerns over new “Red peril”, especially after Chinese army was set on “high alert” in 2000 to military prevent Taiwan of becoming independent state. In 2000 when Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian set army on “combat readiness” mode and vowed to overtake Taiwan by force soared concerns over Chinese militarism. However skeptics argue that threat of aggression from China is more of a “red herring” and these fears are overblown.
They argue that its defense spending and army capabilities are competitively low. They say that China is more interested in being economic power and expansion rather than territorial by force. The direction of China’s policies seems geared to ensuring its rise to prominence in the Pacific Rim, as shown by its military threats in 2000 against Taiwan. To this end, China has continued to arm, preserve its nuclear weapons, and equip the globe’s largest standing army (2. 9 million soldiers). At the same time, China seems committed to developing the strategic and military might that the Chinese believe its status as an economic giant justifies.
China’s resistance to its ASEAN neighbor’s effort evidences this attitude in 1995 to establish a nuclear-free zone in Southeast Asia. However, despite its aggressiveness and coercive diplomacy towards its neighbors, scandal with Chinese boat hitting the Japanese one but China put pressure on Japan to release captain and his team, China can be expected to be more concentrated on domestic and economic policies rather than military ones. It also tries to keep domestic stability by preventing any clashes inside the country that might tear apart national unity.
One of the examples of it would be recent riot of Uyghur nation, which was angry on ignorance of Chinese authority on discrimination and security in their republic. Chinese government had to use force to prevent any further riots and waves of separatism in the country. Keeping situation inside the country stable and calm is a priority along with “maintaining good and friendly relations with all countries” and avoiding becoming the next target of USA-led coalition assembled to contain its raise. Recently, David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK has visited China in order to create some economic contracts and strengthen British economy.
In order to so, he will probably undermine the importance of fact that Chine Nobel Prize winner Lin Xiabo is being put in prison for his calls for democratic reforms and human rights. This shows that China is becoming more and more important on the world arena and its economic power overshadows ideals and believes of countries such as UK. It gives us a topic to think about on whether China already became a superpower when it can easily do what it wants without asking others opinion, as US does, for example in a case of Iraq war.
As its power and wealth have grown China started to resist foreign influence and instructions from her great-power rivals, claiming that it has the right to design its policies in the way it would benefit its national interests. However this does not mean that China is preparing any plan for military engagement as it argues that defense is the purpose of its military buildup and that its “flexing muscles” towards Taiwan is a permissible action towards a rebellious part of sovereign China.
To find the safe place in the sun where it feels it belongs, China has made its priority goals for national security to lobby to see that the traditional international legal rule prohibiting external interference in sovereign states’ domestic affairs is respected to prevent any intervention in Chinese policies, perhaps, due to human rights; expand China’s sphere of influence in the Pacific Rim and whole Asia to become respected and dominant power in that region; pursue membership in WTO in order to give China greater voice in shaping those international organizations’ future policies that might harm its economy and establish and normalize relations with the USA in order to prevent it being treated as an enemy to prevent a new Cold War, and anti-Chinese alliances.
However there are some problems that prevent China from being superpower nowadays. One of them is lack of human rights in the country. Although it can be argued that USSR also lacked them and still was one of the most powerful countries in history it can said that nowadays politics and situation has changed thus making it almost necessary to give rights to citizens in order to be influential in the world.
However this topic is to be argued upon and no exact answer can be given, thus leaving it to be speculated between different commentators and historians. Moreover, what China really lacks is Cultural influence in the world. USSR had communist influence on many countries and thus many support form communists believing in its power and ideology. USA had influenced everybody with liberal approach and democracy making it ideology number one in the world. Also American’s Hollywood films raised its reputation and “brainwashed” many young people over “American dream” and its values. In China’s case it has nothing to offer. Communism is not highly respected as before as it proved to be undemocratic and unstable system.
Perhaps, as China is communist country with capitalist economy, introduction of Human Rights in the country might give China a sphere of influence but nowadays many commentators, thus questioning China being a superpower, cannot imagine it. In conclusion it can be said that although China has an enormous economic growth and power; biggest army in the world; raising influence in the world; rapidly growing military budget; dominance in Asia; Cameron’s visit to China, it cannot be classed as superpower due to its lack of Human Rights in the country and lack of Cultural influence. Furthermore its military spending and capabilities are still relatively low and thus still keeping it under “superpower” status. However it can be said that in a few decades time, China has all the chances to become a superpower on par with the USA or even exceed it in power.