The Atlantic: What Kind of Superpower Will China Be?
Tue October, 2020, Age: 2 years
While many analyses of modern-day Russia’s geopolitical ambitions often call back to its imperial history, few attempt to do the same for China. This is in part due to the Chinese state’s successful rewriting of history, delinking the post-1949 Communist People’s Republic of China from its imperial past. But Michael Schuman takes a long view on China’s development, arguing that much of the direction of its current rise can be inferred based on historical precedent. Schuman critiques Xi Jinping’s frequent claims that China is committed to peaceful development, arguing that China’s pacifism is a modern-day myth. The Chinese state was created by numerous feuding city-states, and late dynasties such as the Ming and Qing demonstrated that the Chinese empire was capable of aggressive expansionism in border regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang. Schuman concludes: “So while Xi told the UN in September that Beijing ‘will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence,’ history suggests that China will use force or coercion against other countries when they contest Chinese power.”