Working Out What China Wants

The Financial Times’ Philip Stephens wonders what, specifically, China aims to gain from its rise.

We know what the west wants from a resurgent China. We have a pretty good sense of what China doesn’t want from the west. What’s missing from this story of global geopolitical upheaval is a clear idea of what China wants from its rise to great power status ….

Inference provides some of the answers. The activities of the People’s Liberation Army in the and the present tilt of military spending point to the desire to push back US forces. A close alliance with underlines the strategic weight given to safeguarding China’s supply lines to and from the -rich Gulf.

A strategy of divide and rule suggests a conscious desire to capitalise on ’s present weakness and undercut the Atlantic alliance. The more China rises, the wider will be the spread of its interests.

How wide? China is not bidding to fill the role of global hegemon recently vacated by the US. There are too many natural constraints on its power – think geography, and as well as the US. Beyond that, we do not really know. But then nor, I suspect, does China.