Is China a Threat?

Henry Rosemont, Jr. writes in the recent issue of Foreign Policy in Focus to argue otherwise:

China’s unprecedented industrial growth over the last two decades has raised the question of whether it now poses a threat to the security of the United States economically, militarily, or both. Economically, the extent to which China truly threatens the United States depends at least in part on the chauvinistic assumption that any potential challenge to absolute U.S. global economic dominance is threatening.

On the question, the answer is much clearer. China is not a threat to the United States. Only those who believe that Fu Manchu is alive and well in the Middle Kingdom and fulfilling his dreams of world domination through a large and aggressive army, air force, and navy still subscribe to a notion that China poses a global threat. Several recent books on the Chinese perpetuate this myth. Their titles reveal everything: Imagined Enemies: China Prepares for Uncertain War, for instance, or Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States.

These and numerous similar narratives share an alarmist tone combined with a dearth of relevant facts in support of their claims. These books suffer from such flaws for good reason. The facts belie the claims, especially when placed in comparative perspective. When it comes to the putative Chinese military threat, the numbers simply don’t add up.



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