China’s Global influence and the future of the West

9 May

China’s Global influence and the future of the West

When measured in terms of comprehensive national power, China is already a rival of the U.S. in many important areas (Ramo 2004, p.3). The Beijing consensus contains ideas about politics, quality of life and the global balance of power. This model sets China off against the power needs of a status quo, as Roy (an Indian economist) observed ‘I was happy to see that there is hope for a developing country to outstrip the giants’ (Ramo 2004, p.5).  If the U.S continues to fail to address a strategy for managing China it will only accelerate the acceptance of a Beijing consensus (Ramo 2004, p.6). Now we are faced with the question of what the rise of China holds for the future of the United States and the West.

China’s growing international relations to date have reaffirmed Westphalia norms of state sovereignty and responsible international behaviour, however the global financial crisis brought about important changes in China’s international behaviour (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.127). The financial crisis shifted the locus of power away from the United States and the West, toward China (Chance 2010, p.383). Countries, such as the U.S, who are threatened by the rise of China, seek to socialise China into the already standing Western World order by asking for both nominal and qualitative multilateralism (Wang 2000, p.477). China has made tremendous progress towards involvement in nominal multilateralism (Wang 2000, p.477). However, there are limitations of China’s attitudes toward qualitative multilateralism in both the economic and the security arenas (Wang 2000, p.479). The government has been reluctant to increase the transparency of China’s military strategies as it feels that it should not be subject to the same transparency requirements as that of stronger countries. Secondly, China holds reservations about preventive diplomacy as it feels that it could potentially threaten China’s sovereignty (Wang 2000, p.484). As far as China is concerned the U.S has been an advocate of unilateralism and bilateralism in international relations, and itself needs to be educated in multilateralism (Wang 2000, pp.487-488). Also, China has been using its UN engagement to expand its influence in reshaping other international practices (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.130). For example, it has provided foreign assistance to developing countries around the world, but Chinas approach to providing aid challenges the practices and influence of traditional donors, such as the World Bank and IMF (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.130). Furthermore Callahan (2008) suggests that an idealized version of China’s imperial past is now inspiring Chinese scholar’s and policy makers. However, Callahan (2008, p.759) highlights that Beijing says that China aims to rise peacefully and not challenge the present international World order. Nevertheless, the success of the ‘Tianxia System’ shows that there is a thirst for ‘Chinese solutions’ to world problems (Callahan 2008, p.759). Ultimately,  although China could overtake the United States alone (Ikenberry 2008, p.36), China does not just face the United States, it also faces a Western-centred system which is open, integrated, rule-based and holds deep political foundations (Ikenberry 2008, p.24).

This then raises the question of what the rise of China holds for the future of the United States and the West. The West could potentially destroy China by going after its weaknesses (Ramo 2004, p.56). For example, one of China’s weaknesses is its energy demands; when China hits a peak it will potentially end its supposedly unstoppable growth, which will in turn lead to social and political explosions (Minqi in Xing 2012). However, it would not make economic sense for the West to destroy China because although China may be the new production capital, the United States remains the financial, monetary and consumption capital of the world (China and Thakur 2010, p.131). Therefore the U.S-China economic imbalances have created interdependence (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.131). Furthermore Ikenberry (2008 p.27) argues that a power transition from the United States to China does not necessarily have to result in conflict and that the nuclear revolution has pretty much eliminated this option (Ikenberry 2008, p.24). Thus it would make more sense if the U.S takes the correct avenues to ensure China’s integration into the Western system, as the U.S is the leader of the system it allows the U.S to shape the environment in which China will make its critical strategic choices (Ikenberry 2008, p.24). Ramo (2004, pp.58-59) suggests three pillars of the ways in which China’s policy can be shaped and integrated; a focus on China’s weak spots, remembering that at times manipulation will be more effective than persuasion, and to use an environmental approach. Therefore the U.S could build China-U.S relations built on an environment of cooperation based on China’s weak spots so as to build leverage and trust to work on China’s other areas (Ramo 2004, p.59).

In a highly interdependent world Chinas aim is to become a global influence, but to rise peacefully (Callahan 2008, p.759) and seek a partnership with the United States and the West (Chance 2010, p.384). This will allow cooperation of mutual interests but will still give China the opportunity to associate with third-world countries (Chance 2010, p.384). China can gain full access and thrive within the Western system, which will enable China to rise and the Western system to live on (Ikenberry 2008, p.24). However, even though China wishes to rise peacefully it will still demand a shift in the physics of international power (Ramo 2004, p.6). In order for China not to come across as a threat to the West they will have to win back confidence by reinventing itself as a more transparent and culturally neutral platform (Crawford 2000, p.83). It is also important for China to get the bilateral relationship between them and the United States “right” in order to secure its continuing rise (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.131). On the other hand, although China needs to be more transparent in order to not come across as a threat (Crawford 2000, p.83); it is as equally important for the West to understand that Beijing will not be willing to simply accept more global responsibility without gaining some of the benefits of leadership (Chin and Thakur 2010, p.134).

In conclusion due to the national power of China and global interdependence, the United States and the West have to accept China as a rising power. Therefore it is in the Wests best strategic interest to aim to integrate China into the established World order which will aid them in trying to shape China’s decisions. However, although the West can aim to do this, China is also aware of global interdependence and therefore aims to rise to power peacefully which will achieve China’s goal for global influence and greater international power.


Crawford, D. (2000), ‘Chinese Capitalism: Cultures, the Southeast Asian Region and Economic Globalisation’, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 69-86

Chin, G. and Thankur, R. (2010), ‘Will China Change the Rules of Global Order?’, The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp.119-138

Ramo, J. (2004), The Beijing Consensus: Notes on the New Physics of Chinese Power, London: The Foreign Policy Centre [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 4 April 2013)

Wang, H. (2000), ‘Multilateralism in Chinese Foreign Policy: The Limits of Socialisation’, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp.475-491

Callahan, W. (2008), ‘Chinese Visions of World Order: Post-hegemonic or a New Hegemony?’, International Studies Review, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 749-761

Ikenberry, G. (2008), ‘The Rise of China and the Future of the West: Can the Liberal Systems Survive?’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 87, No.1, pp. 23-37

Xing, L. (2012), ‘The rise of China and the Capitlist World Order’, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.64, No.1, pp.178-179

Chance, G. (2010) ‘China and the Credit Crisis: The Emergence of a New World Order, Business Horizons, Vol. 54 pp.383-384

By  Camilla Foden


One Response to “China’s Global influence and the future of the West”

  1. zk1e11 May 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    During last 30 years, Chinese economy has grown at the impressive amount of 9% per year, occasionally even more than 12%. Can China keep such high rate for at least 10 years? Personally it can. China is starting from a lower base, and its 1.4 billion local consumers will maintain rate high due to the increasingly disposable income of Chinese.
    As GDP has risen, China has become more and more confident about international issues. These nations on Chinese periphery such as North and South Korea, Viethnam, Laos and Japan etc., have felt China’s growing impacts. When these countries are making policy decisions, China is the essential that have to be considered. There are no straightforward intimidations; however, by rejecting access to its vast consumer market, China is able to punish these countries who against its benefits. Thus, no one wants to be seen as antagonistic. Gradually, the same pressure is being felt worldwide, and the balance of power is changing now.

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