Wednesday, October 05, 2005

China's Future: Brzezinski versus Mearsheimer

There is a widespread narrative on China's future which forecasts a "peaceful rise" for her and a smooth integration into the global order - such as that is. This narrative typically points to China's history over the past couple of decades and to the technical quality of China's top leadership, often verified by the proponent at first hand during a recent Beijing visit.

A counter narrative invokes the lessons of history and expresses serious doubt that China's emergence will remain peaceful as her capacity to seek hegemony in Asia begins to roughly approach a quantum that might enable a run for it.

This counter narrative is clear in what it predicts but the "peaceful rise" camp is a big tent. It includes people in the US who feel that China will accept the current security architecture in East Asia going into the foreseeable future as she will be unable to challenge it, some who can hardly wait for the US to be pushed out of Asia (the Chinese leadership itself) and still others who seem to vaguely hope that China will evolve into a larger version of Germany or Japan.

Sorting out the merits of these two opposing narratives is a task of considerable importance for all concerned with Asia's (and India's) future such as those contributing to this blog. For today I will content myself by drawing the attention of our readers to an actual debate on this topic between two heavyweights in the American debate: Zbigniew Brzezinski and John Mearsheimer at the Carnegie Endowment last year which is available in summary form here.

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