Don’t Fear China’s Rise

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 31 2012 @ 3:19pm

Minxin Pei is much more worried about China's rapid decline.

The United States should reassess the basic premises of its China policy and seriously consider an alternative strategy, one based on the assumption of declining Chinese strength and rising probability of an unexpected democratic transition in the coming two decades. Should such a change come, the geopolitical landscape of Asia would transform beyond recognition. The North Korean regime would collapse almost overnight, and the Korean Peninsula would be reunified. A regional wave of democratic transitions would topple the communist regimes in Vietnam and Laos. The biggest and most important unknown, however, is about China itself: Can a weak or weakening country of 1.3 billion manage a peaceful transition to democracy?

Daniel Larison pushes back:

We already know that the U.S. response to the end of the USSR and the subsequent decline of Russian power was to move into eastern Europe, expand NATO, and take advantage of Russian weakness. As it did in Russia during the 1990s, that sort of response would go down very poorly in a nominally democratic and probably even more nationalist China. If China were declining in strength, the smartest thing the U.S. could would be to avoid taking actions that the Chinese would perceive as humiliating and aggressive. The U.S. would want to reassure the new Chinese government that ours would not try to use their domestic transition to their disadvantage.