The Rise Of China vs The Logic Of Strategy

The Rise Of China vs The Logic Of Strategy

The rise of China has often times invited the specter of a 'China Threat', that China will refuse to play by all the rules and norms once imposed by the West. The fear is also accompanied by the belief, justified or otherwise, that China will want to exert its own political, economic, military and strategic weight. Even the prospect of the Renminbi being internationalized is enough to invite the suspicion if China is trying to supplant and replace the United States as the proverbial "top dog" one day. Naturally, there are other signs that China cannot be forced to wear the strait-jacket of the West; especially one tailored and customized by the United States. 

Exhibit one is the refusal to accept the membership of the Group of Seven, which the United States was willing to concede. Exhibit two is the rejection of this theory that only democracy is the normal, if not natural, form of government. Exhibit three is the refusal to accept the United Nations' Conventions on the Laws of the Sea in their entirety. For example, to this day, China still believes in its own historical and archaeological argument, that artifacts and items found in the surrounding areas in South China Sea, are enough to vindicate China's belief that the whole sea belongs to China since the days of the Ming Dynasty, if not earlier.

Edward N. Luttwak, one of the finest strategists in the United States, that has produced two separate volumes on the grand strategy of the 'Roman' and 'Byzantine' empire, truly no mean feat, argues to the contrary that the persistent rise of China will invite other countries and groups to challenge its dominion; especially when China is attempting economic and military modernization both at the same time. The more China grows exponentially, the more others will seek ways to constrain it. In this vein, Edward N. Luttwak is subscribing to the realist doctrine of international relations; where every action can lead to counter-reaction.

Will China be trapped by this logic ? Yes and no. While it is true that a strong China will invite sheer reverence and fear, it is just as true that the awe and shock will lead some countries to band-wagon with it. In other words join China in its effort to grow indefinitely; as had been manifested by the efforts of various Southeast Asian leaders to make a beeline to Beijing. Had Edward N. Luttwak took a more deliberate approach to understanding the bandwagon effect, this book would have achieved the ultimate balance.