China and the New World Order

Prof. Dr. Tarık OĞUZLU
09 September 2014
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China is the country that has the most potential to help restructure the dynamics of the world order in the years to come. Analysts, academics, and pundits alike have been continuously trying to ascertain the nature of opportunities and risks that China’s spectacular rise might pose to the foundational principles of the world order that first came into being in the early years of the postwar era and then got solidified under the leadership of the United States-led western camp throughout the long Cold War years and after. One question asked in this regard is whether China’s rise towards potential superpower status will cause great power competition and possibly total war, with the current superpower i.e. the United States? What kind of a power is China? What are the normative claims of Chinese leadership to the structure of world politics? Is China defining its foreign and security policy interests in terms of pure realpolitik or can one argue that China is a distinctive international actor that has its own peculiar ways of doing things differently from other global actors? And what are the main tenets of China’s understanding of the emergent word order? This short essay will try to answer such questions with a view to making a better sense of China’s rise.


The first point to note in this context is that China requires a stable and predictable regional and international order to sustain its impressive economic growth as well as rise to regional hegemony. That is to say that the number one foreign policy interest of a rising China is to help chaperone the emergence of a China-friendly stable regional environment, whereby China would be able to channel its material capabilities towards internal economic development and political modernization processes. China has not completed its internal transformation process yet, and for this to happen without interruption, a stable external environment is critical. The so-called ‘peaceful development/peaceful rise’ strategy is purely a defensive realpolitik approach that aims at buying some time for China to bid for global leadership at a later stage of its development.


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