A Virtual Alliance for Asian Security

Since the success and irreversibility of Chinese economic reforms became evident in the early 1990s, Western academics, pundits, defense analysts, and policymakers have focused on the implications of rising Chinese power for Asian and global security. Although the Chinese economy faces serious challenges and will be adversely affected by the Asian crisis, China’s long-term economic prospects remain reasonably good. Even if growth slows significantly, economic development Will eventually transform China’s international position and provide the foundation for dramatic improvements in Chinese military capabilities.’ China’s increasing economic and military strength present the United States and Asia countries with a dilemma. Each seeks to benefit from Chinese economic growth through investment and trade, but also worries about how China might use its increased military power and regional influence in the future. Uncertainty about China’s political future, unresolved territorial disputes, and fears about Chinese regional ambitions make Asian states wary of the possibility of Chinese domination. As a senior Japanese official put it, “we are making China stronger [through trade and investment], but we may be making it into a bigger bully.” A recent Council on Foreign Relations study concluded that responding to China’s rise to great-power status was the most important challenge facing the United States in Asia.

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