Paper: Will There Be An Open Conflict Between the US and China Within 25 years?
The rise of China from a poor and stagnant country to a major economic power within less than 30 years is now considered as the greatest economic transformation and success that has ever happened. This tremendous emergence of China as a superpower has raised a lot of concern among Americandecision makers who are afraid that China might outperform and stand in the USA’s light.
By using the word ‘hedge’, Zoellick’s helps clarify the blurred relationship between China and the USA: they are both hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. This ambiguity leads to a simple question of the utmost importance for the future of the planet: will there be an open conflict between the USand China within 25 years? Will it be marked by convergence towards deepening cooperation, stability and peace, or by deterioration, open competition ad perhaps even war?
This paper aims at showing that in spite of an increasing competition and mistrust between the US and China (I), an open conflict between the two powers seems unlikely to happen (II). Here, “open conflict” means a state ofopenly declared and often prolonged fight between two countries. But this US-China relationship should rather evolve towards an informal conflict leaning on an influential struggle over Asia and the rest of the world (III). In front of the impossibility to deal with all the aspects of the US-China relationship, this paper is not exhaustive and just lays the emphasis on some major features if thisrelationship.
1) In spite of an increasing competition and mistrust…
Indeed, there was an increasing competition and mistrust in the US-China relationship in the last decades. And some observers consider that this trend is the omen of a potential soon-to-be open conflict between the two powers.
The first factor of competition is the economic growth of China, which allows this powerto broaden its ambitions of “global reach” for the next few decades. From 1979 to 2006, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown at an average annual rate of 9.7% and its world ranking for total trade has rose from 27th to 3rd. China has become the world’s second largest economy and it could be the largest within a decade. According to Hutton’s view, ‘China’s economic growth seems not justchallenging, but terrifying. China, apparently, is set to sweep all before it’. The US concern of a new form of imperialism from China that could weaken the US stance in the world is recurrent today. For instance, China’s growth makes the Chinese need of oil dramatic, which spurs China to lead an aggressive policy dollar diplomacy in Darfur, Southern. Even if these trends are simply the resultsof China’s economic development, they may pose a critical future challenge for US economic interests.
Much of current mistrust about China is driven by security concerns at the Pentagon. The 2005 Report on China’s Military Power concluded that China was greatly improving its military power, including its capabilities of nuclear forces. Another concern is the PRC’s inclination for weaponssales, technology transfers and nuclear energy assistance to certain countries, especially Iran and Pakistan. So there are important current problems undermining the stability of the US-China relationship. It is legitimate, therefore, to wonder if these tensions are strong enough to lead to an open conflict with 25 years.
2) … An open conflict between China and the US seems hardly possibleAs a matter of a fact, I tend to have an optimistic point of view and I believe in a pacifying relationship between the two most important worldwide powers.
First of all, economic exchanges have increased dramatically between the two since market reforms in China in 1970’. It has moved from 1$ billion to almost 245$ billion by 2004. Another often-neglected factor must be added: the...