It’s in all the headlines: China and the United States are increasingly at loggerheads. As Financial Times journalist Dyer notes, it’s likely to get more heated in years to come.
“Beijing is starting to channel its inner great power,” writes the author. In so doing, it is shifting from a reactive to a proactive international stance, seeking to shape the world according to its national interests. And in doing that—exercising, most recently, something like a Chinese version of the Monroe Doctrine—it is increasingly coming up against the U.S., which has long had a controlling interest in many parts of Asia. Australia, writes the author, has been tied to the U.S. strategically for generations, but increasingly, its economy is dependent on trade with China; when dollars begin to trump diplomacy, Australia’s relations with the U.S. are likely to loosen. Interestingly, writes Dyer, China is taking a page from long-forgotten American naval doctrine in developing a blue-water military force to expand and maintain its sphere. Whether this means that a military collision with America is inevitable depends, in a curious way, on whether the ruling Communist Party retains its power. Its “most vulnerable flank is from the nationalist, populist right,” which is longing to assert Chinese power, and a “party that loudly claims the mantle of national salvation cannot afford to look weak in the face of perceived slights.” Dyer counsels that instead of reacting with the usual China-bashing, with all its thinly veiled racially tinged codes, the U.S. would do well to “roll out the red carpet for Chinese investments that do not have clear national security implications,” becoming partners in a two-way economy rather than mere consumers.
Somewhat more optimistic than Harry Dent Jr.’s The Demographic Cliff (2013), insistent that the key to Western influence-shaping lies in economic housecleaning. All bets are on as to whether that can happen.