2005 May 29 Sunday
Does China Want To Make The World Safe For Autocracy?

Robert Kagan argues against the conventional wisdom that wise policies can "manage" the rise of China to produce a favorable outcome. Attempts to manage China fly in the face of a historical record of failed attempts "manage" the rise of Germany, Japan, and other powers in the past.

The security structures of East Asia, the Western liberal values that so dominate our thinking, the "liberal world order" we favor -- this is the "international system" into which we would "integrate" China. But isn't it possible that China does not want to be integrated into a political and security system that it had no part in shaping and that conforms neither to its ambitions nor to its own autocratic and hierarchical principles of rule? Might not China, like all rising powers of the past, including the United States, want to reshape the international system to suit its own purposes, commensurate with its new power, and to make the world safe for its autocracy? Yes, the Chinese want the prosperity that comes from integration in the global economy, but might they believe, as the Japanese did a century ago, that the purpose of getting rich is not to join the international system but to change it?

Kagan argues that the Chinese really want to see US influence in Asia to decline and that the values and goals of the Chinese are sufficiently different that US and Chinese interests will inevitably clash. He also argues that the US already has a containment policy toward China even as US policymakers attempt to deny this.

Kagan's essay strikes me as pretty reasonable. Go read the whole thing. China already supports elements of an illiberal world order in North Korea, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere. The extent of China's economic rise will determine the extent of the growth of Chinese influence. If, as I expect, China becomes the wealthiest country in the world illiberal autocracy will gain against liberal democracy.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 May 29 10:52 AM  China

PacRim Jim said at May 29, 2005 9:54 PM:

Before buying anything, turn it over and look at the sticker. If it's made in China, decide whether or not you want your money to go to China's military.

Stephen said at May 29, 2005 11:33 PM:

Before buying anything, look at the price tag. If its more expensive than a close substitute, decide whether or not you want to subsidise that uncompetitive manufacturer.

crush41 said at May 30, 2005 1:51 PM:

Before buying anything, look at the price tag. If its more expensive than a close substitute, decide whether or not you want to subsidise that uncompetitive manufacturer.

I took you for someone overly concerned with human/civil rights, not a contract-theory full-blooded international capitalist!

Stephen said at May 30, 2005 3:51 PM:

No one could accuse me of having a coherent moral philosophy!

John S Bolton said at June 1, 2005 5:12 PM:

Indeed not; and we ought to ask also to look who may be the third party in such transactions. To receive stolen items is no bargain; or, if it may be such, why not make haste to acquire what knockoffs can be had off the street, for a small fraction of what the genuine article would cost. China may be suspected by the Africans of wanting to wage germ warfare upon the natives of such territories in Africa as they may covet for their resources or abundance of land; although this probably none too just of them.

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