“When China will wake up, the entire world will be shaken”. Is this famous Napoleon’s prediction a sort of Nostradamus premonition? Should we consider that great strategist as a fortunate soothsayer, or could we understand that, inreality, he had only integrated the resilient characteristic of that sleeping giant’s history? Maybe should we rely on that famous citation to understand that analyzing Chinese History was already helpful two centuries ago to predict its future.
Nevertheless, analyzing it would have let predict, until 50 years ago, that China could have turned to be again the regional closed empire as it had alwaysbeen, with vassals in its closest vicinity, but few exchanges with the rest of the world, thanks to agricultural surplus and commodities self-sufficiency. The facts have thus proved the contrary.
A paradoxical situation appeared thus as soon as the consequences of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms made China disobey to its resilient curse. Indeed, an incredible cyclical history let us think that Chinesefuture could be predicted owed to its numerous common points with its past, and that its rise as a global power would, as every similar rise in History, would cause conflicts. Yet, the situation has turn to be very different. Following Zhou Enlai’s habit, we shall not conclude anything of that very recent history because “it is too soon to say”, but we shall wonder whether we can rely on Global andChinese Histories to forecast the future behavior of China as a leading world power.
Thus, we will here firstly focus on the resilience and on the cyclical character of China’s might along the centuries, what could lead to think that the future can be forecasted, and that global conflicts can be expected, according to a sort of global historic rule, leading to another period of construction anddestruction of Chinese might. However, we will then notice that Chinese socio-economic pattern turned to be now very different of how it has been during the last centuries, what could prevent us to deduct too much rules of History. Finally, we shall conclude that, if History seem to be insufficient to forecast Chinese behavior, it can be useful to study Chinese culture and its philosophicalproverbs and trends to guess it.
I. Chinese History, the continuous story of resilience and cyclical evolutions.
At once, it appears clearly that lots of general trends can be deducted along Chinese old History. A very clear succession of good periods and downturns can be draw out of Chinese History, and it seem that, when a ancient mighty government which lead China to a rank of Asiaticfirst power used to lose its “mandate of heaven”, it was usually ousted by its peasants, causing a wave of division in the empire, and a long period of troubles before another ‘mandated’ system appear. These cyclical evolutions, as opposed to Western linear History, point out an incredible capacity of resilience in Chinese history. This could let us imagine that Chinese supremacy will be threatenedinside when the economic growth will show any slowing down, when the Chinese worst-off will consider that Beijing lost its “mandate of heaven”, as it happened in -207 or in 1644 for the Ming to replace the incompetent rulers.
Moreover, if China, in the late 6 centuries, has missed every global trend or revolution, we could imagine that it could change of stage in its cyclical resilience, and turnto be a leading power, as it is already becoming. What’s more, China has always thought, in its dominated periods, that the ‘barbarians’, as they consider the foreign countries, and Western countries were responsible of those diseases, by seeking to prevent China from regaining its rank of global leading power. Because of that rivalry, Beijing is obsessed by the goal of catching up with the West...