It was inevitable that China’s economic rise would shake up the geopolitical order to some extent, but it remains to be seen if such a change will be perceived as a risk or a challenge.
As China continues to grow, its competitiveness with the United States is increasingly felt. Perhaps one of the best examples of this was when President Obama recently called China a US “adversary”.
Ian Bremmer, editor of What’s Next? Essays on Geopolitics that Matter, had quite a bit to say on the subject when he visited the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai. “There is a risk that the rise of China upsets the apple cart… The next decade will see China rise much faster than the past decade.”
So, is China a growing Goliath that threatens its trade partners’ prosperity? Perhaps not. Wu Xinbo, Professor at Fudan University, the People’s Republic of China, argues that the problem is not China’s growth but rather how we perceive that growth. “China’s rise is not the risk, it is how others react to it that’s the challenge.”
The current state of affairs, some would argue, has not helped China’s growth to be seen in the positive light which Wu Xinbo suggests is possible. In the past, China was too dependent on Japan’s investment dollars for conflict between the two countries to arise. Wu Xinbo has pointed out that the recent threat of military action over a group of island in the East China Sea is more the result of growing nationalism, between two states with significant history.
There are two sides to each coin. In as much as the world may look to China with some concern about its rapid growth, China may well be concerned about the economic malaise in the West. The best-case scenario would be for both parts of the globe to grow in tandem, because with it would come stronger competition, and, inevitably, stronger growth.
Author: Oliver Cann is an Associate Director of Media Relations at the World Economic Forum
Image: View of a construction site in Shanghai REUTERS/Aly Song