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David BarkThe dilemma of China’s rise is one that bitterly divides both policy experts to hawks and doves alike. On one side sit those who take a skeptical, even hostile view of an emergent China, viewing its progress in zero-sum terms and sounding warnings of an inevitable conflict. On the other side sit the optimists, those who view the historical and economic context in which China is rising as favorable to an amicable future between the United States and the PRC. In reality, both sides have valid points to be taken, neither can we react hysterically to a dominant China and risk provoking unnecessary conflict, nor can a state with such colossal demographic and geopolitical clout be expected to thrive and expand soundly without issue. While China’s rise is definitely real, measurable in both tangible terms like GDP and military expenditure and intangible terms like the media attention it grabs and its growing silhouette against the geopolitics of the pacific region, the changed nature of power in the 21stcentury and the contemporary international context in which it’s rise is taking place lend credibility to the idea that China will not repeat the mistakes of the challenger powers before it. If a rational and stern,but non-dogmatic policy toward the PRC is pursued, China’s emergence as the world’s second and lesser geopolitical pole can occur relatively peacefully, without the intense international conflicts that previous changes in the international order brought forth. That’s not to say the future will be totally bloodless, but certain steps can preclude the outbreak of the kind of hostilities that have overturned global stability in the past.
The Rising DragonIn terms of mathematically defined national power, there is no denying the great expansion of China both economically and politically. There is certainly cause for concern at first glance among those forming American foreign policy. China has been the world’s fastest growing economy for over three decades, and since the arrival of the new millennium, China has made huge strides in growing its military and expanding its civilian technological capabilitieswith a clear eye on challenging America for supremacy. Writing for the Congressional Research Service, Wayne Morrison details China’s rapidly expanding and evolving economy. With growth ranging from 8-10% from 1979 onward, China’s economy “rapidly outpaced that of the United States and its allies, who, burdened by advanced economy woes and rolling booms and busts, grew at an average of 3.5% during the same period” (Morrison). Even in times of apparent economic slowdown, the Chinese economy still grows at a rate double that of America’s. Morrison’s study notes that China’s growth was largely the result of its transition from a “very poor, very inefficient, and largely agrarian” society, to one focused on manufacturing, exports, and the invitation of foreign direct investment and that it will need to shift to a model focused