Of Course China Wants to Replace the U.S. | The Diplomat (replies to :http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/china/58558-china-doesnt-want-global-hegemon.html) If China becomes the worldâ€™s most powerful country, it wonâ€™t be satisfied being Americaâ€™s number two. Over at The Week, Think Progressâ€™s Zack Beauchamp has a provocative piece arguing that â€œChina is not replacing the United States as the global hegemon. And it never will.â€ Specifically, Beauchamp posits that â€œChina faces too many internal problems and regional rivals to ever make a real play for global leadership. And even if Beijing could take the global leadership mantle soon, it wouldnâ€™t. China wants to play inside the existing global orderâ€™s rules, not change them.â€ The piece is well-argued and certainly worth a read. In particular, Beauchamp does us a service in combating the myth of the inevitability of Chinaâ€™s rise. He usefully points out that Chinaâ€™s economy faces a multitude of challenges that may prevent it from reaching the potential many currently foresee. He also points out that China faces powerful neighbors that wonâ€™t stand by idly if Beijing seeks to construct a new regional order, much less a global one. Still, on balance, I think Beauchampâ€™s piece does more to confuse than to inform. The first issue is that even though he discusses the regional balance of power in the piece, his overall argument is that China will not be capable of replacing the United States as the â€œglobal hegemon.â€ Unfortunately, there are many who would claim that America is a global hegemon. However, that argument is preposterous under any reasonable definition of hegemony. It is true that in the post-Cold War (if not earlier) the U.S. has been the only power capable of projecting military power in any region of the world. But this has not allowed it to dictate the regional order of every continent as it largely can in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, even if America really is a global hegemon, this would just make it more unlikely that any rising power could replace it as a global hegemon. After all, Americaâ€™s primacy in the post-Cold War era was only made possible because no other great power existed. Since Chinaâ€™s rise wonâ€™t stop the U.S. from being a great power, unless the two go to war and China wins, Beijingâ€™s relative power will be far less than Americaâ€™s at the end of the Cold War. And of course, Americaâ€™s relative power will also be far less than what it enjoyed in 1991. There are other issues with Beauchampâ€™s analysis of Chinaâ€™s relative power. For example, he notes that â€œone analysis suggests Chinaâ€™s GDP may not surpass Americaâ€™s until the 2100s.â€ To begin with, while possible, this view seems to be decidedly in the minority among serious economists. Even if Chinaâ€™s economy crashes before 2018â€”around the time many believe Chinaâ€™s absolute GDP will surpass Americaâ€™sâ€”it still seems likely that it will find a more sustainable economic model before 80 years pass. And given that China has about four times as many people as the United States, it could easily surpass the U.S. in absolute GDP terms in less than 80 years. But even if Chinaâ€™s economy doesnâ€™t surpass the United States, this hardly suggests it wonâ€™t present a major strategic challenge to Washington. Consider that, according to Paul Kennedy, in 1938 Japanâ€™s share of world manufacturing was just 3.8 percent while Americaâ€™s was 28.7 percent and the U.K.â€™s was 9.2 percent. A year earlier, according to the same source, the U.S. national income was $68 billion while the British Empireâ€™s was $22 billion. Japanâ€™s, comparison, was just $4 billion. Yet, in the initial battles of the Pacific War Japan decisively defeated the U.S., England, and the Dutch across the region. Similarly, the Soviet Unionâ€™s GDP was only ever about half as large as the United States, and many times much less than that. This doesnâ€™t mean that America and its allies didnâ€™t face a real strategic threat in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The more egregious part of Beauchampâ€™s case, however, is his contention that China does not seek to challenge the U.S.-led order. In his own words: â€œEven if this economic gloom and doom is wrong, and China really is destined for a prosperous future, thereâ€™s one simple reason China will never displace America as global leader: It doesnâ€™t want to.â€ He goes on to explain: â€œChina is content to let the United States and its allies keep the sea lanes open and free ride off of their efforts. A powerful China, in other words, would most likely to be happy to pursue its own interests inside the existing global order rather than supplanting it.â€ Beauchamp isnâ€™t alone in holding this view, which has many faithful adherents in the West. In fact, not too long ago it was the running consensus in the United States, as well as the foundation of U.S. China policy in both the George W. Bush and the early Barack Obama administrations. One place where this view has not been very popular is in China itself. Indeed, far from being happy to allow the U.S. Navy to keep its sea lanes open, Chinese leaders have been warning about their countryâ€™s â€œMalacca Dilemmaâ€ for over a decade now. They have also been actively trying to reduce Americaâ€™s ability to cut off Chinaâ€™s energy and raw material imports. As they should beâ€”it would be irresponsible for Chinaâ€™s leaders to allow their countryâ€™s economy to be at the mercy of a potential competitor if they have the realistic opportunity to allow China to secure its own shipping lanes. This is doubly true in light of the fact that the U.S. has been known to impose sanctions on many countries, including China itself after Tiananmen Square. But the issue goes much deeper than that. In fact, it goes to the heart of the Chinese Communist Partyâ€™s legitimacy at home. At its core, the CCPâ€™s claim to power is based on its ability to restore China to its past glory. Again, neither China nor its leaders have ever made any secret about this. For example, the CCP has always emphasized that it saved China from its â€œcentury of humiliationâ€ at the hands of the Western and Japanese colonial powers. Similarly, since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed that, because of the CCPâ€™s rule, the â€œgreat rejuvenation of the Chinese nationâ€ is now within Chinaâ€™s grasp. As Zheng Wang points out, the term â€œrejuvenation is deeply rooted in Chinese history and the national experience.â€ Wang continues: â€œAs proud citizens of the â€˜Middle Kingdomâ€™ the Chinese feel a strong sense of chosenness and are extremely proud of their ancient and modern achievements. This pride is tempered, however, by the lasting trauma seared into the national conscious as a result of the countryâ€™s humiliating experiences at the hands of Western and Japanese imperialism. After suffering a humiliating decline in national strength and status, the Chinese people are unwavering in their commitment to return China to its natural state of glory, thereby achieving the Chinese Dream.â€ Thus, the CCP would lose all its legitimacy at home if it voluntarily subordinated China to the United States despite being the more powerful country. The CCP treasures its grip on power above all else, and therefore it should come as no surprise that it has already ruled out taking this risk.