The American Interest

Getting China Straight

The challenge that the rise of China presents to the United States is more pressing than any other global issue except for the ever-present threat of jihad.  Beijing is rapidly becoming a regional power of the first order, the Asian hegemon that will need to be contained, confronted, or, in some way, appeased.  Its ruling party still calls itself “communist,” but the ethos of the nomenklatura is eminently traditional: nationalist, xenophobic, authoritarian, and self-serving.  The notion of an “international community” is treated in Beijing with studied derision, as a tool of furthering the sacro egoismo that is and has been China’s guiding light in foreign affairs for over two millennia.

Addressing a regional security conference in Singapore last June, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that China’s military buildup—and especially her deployment of hundreds of missiles along the Straits of Taiwan—is a threat to Asian security.  He criticized Beijing for having the world’s third-largest military budget (behind the United States and Russia) and for buying sophisticated weaponry abroad.  “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment?” Rumsfeld said.  “Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?”  He also questioned China’s internal policies,...

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