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The rise of China is undoubtedly going to have an impact on international affairs and politics throughout the twenty-first century. China’s extraordinary economic growth and active diplomacy are already transforming East Asia, and future decades will see even greater increases in Chinese power and influence. Will Chinas rise be a threat to international stability?
In an effort to maintain international peace at the end of World War II 1939-1945, the Allies formed the United Nations, which officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, of which the Republic of China (ROC) was a member. Soon after the end of World War II, conflict flared again in many parts of the world. In China, nationalist and communist forces quickly resumed their civil war. In 1949, the Communist Party of China seized power in mainland China and declared the People’s Republic of China, claiming to have replaced the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China and the ROC government withdrew to Taiwan.
The Cold War period 1947-1991, saw a continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II. The Cold War was characterized by the tension between the two contending superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union, and two competing ideologies communism and democracy. The Soviet Union and China were aligned through communism. China’s leverage in the Cold War was primarily determined by its enormous size. With the largest population and occupying the third largest territory in the world, China was a factor that neither superpower could ignore. Although China was a major Cold War player, its capacity and will to influence global issues and international affairs were inevitably compromised by the fact that it was backward in technology and economic development, which allowed the United States to be prevalent in world politics.
After the Cold War the Soviet Union and China moved toward free markets, and they seemed headed for political freedom as well. However, what has emerged is an authoritarian system in which the leaders of Communist Party of China control their countries’ newly capitalist national economies. China is well on its way to becoming a formidable global power. The size of its economy has quadrupled since the launch of market reforms in the late 1970s and, by some estimates, will double again over the next decade. It has become one of the world’s major manufacturing centres and consumes roughly a third of the global supply of iron, steel, and coal. It had accumulated massive foreign reserves, worth more than USD $1 trillion by the end of 2006. The growth of the Chinese economy and its influence on the world markets has allowed it to become more prevalent in world politics.
As a great power and emerging superpower, China’s foreign policy and strategic thinking is highly influential. China officially states it “unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace. The fundamental goals of this policy are to preserve China’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, create a favorable international environment for China’s reform.”  Ever since its creation the PRC has sought to increase its power in relation to its regional neighbours and other international powers, especially the United States and the now defunct Soviet Union. To a large extent China’s rise has been based upon avoiding military actions although it is not averse to causing regional and international instability. Whilst China has attempted successfully to become a major economic power it has not reduced its powerful armed forces, or stopped its support for rogue states and that does worry its neighbours, especially Taiwan. Some are concerned about the threat posed by China’s rise feeling it is potentially dangerous due to the decline of the United States and its own unpredictable foreign policy, not to mention its backing of countries that are determined to undermine global stability. The growth of Chinas economy and its military strength has allowed it to become much more dominant in world affairs in recent decades.
The recent financial crisis has created a power shift because the emerging economies, especially China and India, managed to avoid the worst of the crisis. It was not a complete decoupling as both still depend heavily on the United States and Europe for exports, but the trend is moving in a key direction. In 2010, China expects to hit double digit growth this year and India is expected to grow 8.75 per cent. China and India will be important centres for innovation and manufacturing in the decades ahead. China is likely to become the world powerhouse for intellectual property. China has the world’s third largest patent office and over one million patent applications are filed in China every year.
Experts tip that China and India will create new trading blocs that will sideline the United States and Western Europe. A Free Trade Agreement between the Association of South East Asian Nations and China came into effect on New Year’s Day. It created the world’s third largest free trade bloc behind the European Union and the North American Free Trade. This will have a significant impact on the future direction of global world markets and the traditional eastern reliance on the United States. One of the fastest growing economies in the world today, China has extended its “tentacles” into every realm possible, replacing Germany as the world’s biggest exporter and fast catching up the US in military capacity.
Undeniably, the rise of china has been advantageous to the world in several aspects, such as faster world economic growth and the alleviation of global poverty. This is largely due to china’s expansionary economic policy which aims to assist China in achieving rapid economic development. In this process, economic links have been established with several countries. China’s rise helps global integration via the signing of Free Trade Agreements, improving standard of living in the world due to economic development. China is reported to have replaced the US as the world’s largest energy consumer, as it continues to absorb natural resources. This has assisted several African countries such as Nigeria which are resource rich, in achieving greater progress to prosperity, easing extreme poverty in those countries as well. To a large extent, it is conclusive to say the world has benefited from China’s rise and it continues to play an important role the global economy. Given today’s increased connectedness among countries as a result of globalization, China can be a stabilizing force in managing more serious world threats such as financial meltdown, contagious diseases, provocative acts by rogue counties as well as terrorism and climate change. China’s rise is needed to assist the process of global integration, through utilization of its influence on the developing world.
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