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China’s Rise Leads to America’s Containment

China’s Rise Leads to America’s Containment

It is critical to engage with China as it becomes the world’s largest economy and gains unilateral power, say experts.

When a thousand global thought leaders gather together you know that the main discussion will be one to be reckoned with. No surprise then that China and its growing clout took centrestage at The World Economic Forum’s fifth Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai.

As China overtakes the US as the world’s largest economy, possibly by as early as 2016, the way in which it drives rules of engagement within the international framework is increasingly being called into question.

“The rise of China poses the biggest geopolitical risk in the world,” said Ian Bremmer, president, Eurasia Group. “China is bigger than India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa combined, and this scares the US. It has become a sort of Voldemort, as demonstrated when, for the first time, Obama referred to China as an adversary.”

This carries the overhang of being viewed as containment, and as Wu Xinbo, professor, Fudan University, People’s Republic of China, pointed out, “If the US wants China to be a responsible stakeholder, it has to be first given a stake.”

Bremmer agreed, adding that responsible stakeholdering is China’s prerogative. “They are told to act like a developed nation when they are actually a developing nation.”

The US wants to engage China within the existing order. An example is that world institutions like The World Bank were created by the US and yet China is expected to act in accordance with the rules created by US institutions, some panelists stated.

“China does not have to comply with the existing order of things. And it does not need to tango only with the US to move forward; there will be many other countries,” Kevin Rudd, the ex-PM of Australia said.

This is true is many parts. With America becoming increasingly preoccupied with domestic issues, its unilateral power will diminish. This leaves the world bereft of a political big brother.

Yet “China is not opposed to a US regional order,” stated Xinbo. “In fact we have benefitted from them.”

What will then become crucial is the manner in which China uses its power and how other countries react to that.

“The big question is how we should engage China and how China will use its new power,” confirmed Rudd.

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