Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
resume its historical position as the world's most powerful state, and it
has already takenmany of the concrete steps required to do so. This will
only continue—a prospect that has some people terrified.
As China becomes more powerful and influential, it has been
growing more restive and acting with increasing swagger and confi-
dence on the world stage. Some critics of China now maintain that the
country has even become abrasive, vindictive, and pushy. Concerns
that China might turn out this way date back a number of years. In
1996 Singapore's colorful and controversial former prime minister
(and now Senior Minister) Lee Kuan Yew gave an important speech
in Washington, D.C., at a dinner hosted by The Nixon Center in which
he argued that the United States should take the lead in effectively
engaging China and absorbing its energies over the next 50 to 100 years
in order to prevent China's emergence once again as a hegemonic
behemoth, one attempting to dominate the rest of Asia and perhaps
even the world:
In the triangular relationship between the US, Japan and China, the
US-China leg is the most important factor for stability in East Asia.
US-China bilateral relations will set the tone, structure, and context for
all other relationships in East Asia. A stable US-China relationship will
mean stability and growth. An ad hoc and spasmodic relationship will
cause uncertainty and instability, and inhibit growth throughout East
As China's development nears the point when it will have enough
weight to elbow its way into the region, it will make a fateful decision—
whether to be a hegemon, using its economic and military weight to
create a sphere of influence in the region for its economic and security
needs, or to continue as a good international citizen abiding by
international rules to achieve even better growth
China should be given every incentive to choose international
cooperation which will absorb its energies constructively for another
50 to 100 years. This means China must have the economic opportuni-
ties to do this peacefully, without having to push its way to get resources
like oil, and have access to markets for its goods and services
If such a route is not open to China, the world must live with a pushy
China. In this event the United States will not be alone in being con-
cerned about what China will do when it is able to contest the present
world dispensation. All countries in Asia, medium and small, have this
concern: will China seek to re-establish its traditional pattern on
international relations of vassal states in a tributary relationship with
the Middle Kingdom? Any signs of this will alarm all the countries in
the region, and cause most countries to realign themselves closer to the
US and Japan.
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