Now let’s be clear on one thing. What China does, whether it goes on rising and if so, how, is mainly up to the Chinese: legally, since theirs is a sovereign state; morally, since peoples have a right to shape their own destinies; but also practically, since the capacity of anyone else to influence the evolution of such a large, self-referential country is limited. Limited, but far from nil. This is not the 17th century. The prospects for the Chinese economy in 2009 depend directly on what happens in the American and European markets for Chinese exports. So we who are not Chinese have not just a stake, but also a hand in this story.
I have therefore come up with this shortlist of four keys to China’s peaceful rise, attaching to each point a rough guesstimate of the division of responsibility (DoR) between us. In the confines of a column, my list is necessarily selective and of telegraphic brevity. I offer it with the health warning that on this subject I depend heavily on the expertise of others, and on Chinese voices interpreted or self-translated into English. Since, however, those experts and Chinese voices profoundly disagree among themselves, we outsiders still have to make up our own minds. Anyway, to stir debate, here are my four keys to China’s peaceful rise. I welcome all responses, however critical, from those who are experts on China or, better still, are Chinese themselves.