August 15, 2013, by Tony Hong

The Rise of China: a threat to the world, or a model for the rest?

By Edward Pode,

Studying Mathematics at the University of Nottingham UK.

The question of whether China’s recent growth marks it as a model to be followed by other countries around the world or sets it up as a threat to them is dependent on several assumptions.  Firstly it presupposes that the two characteristics are mutually independent which I do not believe is the case.  The Roman Empire is one of the largest empires in history.  Prior to achieving her full power this rising superpower undoubtedly posed a threat to existing nations (one it delivered upon) but it does provide a model for growth.  Albeit that this model incorporated slavery into everyday life and involved an aggressively expanding military fascist state draws into question how accepting a modern populace would be of such a model. 

In the present age with the creation of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) weapons a national model with such aggressive policies could end disastrously.  Even without MAD articles such as the Geneva Convention and the ease of global communication would either cripple a nation’s military strategy or ruin their reputation with potential traders, undermining their economy.  On this basis the Roman’s national model is not a good one for modern nation but for much of history a well organised military state could prosper considerably. This shows the importance of qualifiers when trying to determine what sets a good model for growth.

One major factor in China’s growth was/is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  This involves investment by foreign companies seeking cheap production rates.  FDI relies implicitly in the geography of the investee country facilitating the export of the produced goods.  In China’s case the large amount of coast available means that shipping is available as an easy method to shift large volumes of goods.  On this basis landlocked countries, particularly those with difficult to traverse geography like mountains, could not rely on FDI to drive growth and adopting China’s model would not be a wise move for them.  Numerous other factors underpin China’s growth such as it’s huge size and domineering Socialist Government with state run large-enterprises.  This allows China to bring huge resources to bear on individual areas raising standards region by region.  Small nations with poor governmental control over outlying regions lack the resources, even when, through great effort, concentrated, to affect much improvement so again we eliminate a swath of countries where China’s economic model could be useful.  There are many more areas propping up China’s stellar growth rate which would be inapplicable elsewhere but the two examples listed above I believe prove my point that China’s economic could not be rolled out globally with positive results.

As to whether China poses a threat to the rest of the world.  Militarily I have previously mentioned MAD, China has both an extensive traditional military and nuclear armament.  The mix of the two leads me to believe that China could invade several small nations with limited repercussions ala Germany in the 1930s  or the USSR later in the 20th Century with the fear of a Nuclear war forestalling serious military rivals becoming engaged.  The threat of  China economically is somewhat harder to define, overtaking another country economically does not mean the former leader is diminished, indeed it can continue to grow itself as happened with Japan in recent memory.  That China has achieved such dramatic growth even during a banking crisis and almost universal global recession may intimidate foreign competitors but the psychology of the situation is of limited impact.  China has in recent years undermined secondary industries in other countries thanks to cheap production rates but this has already happened and thus can’t really be classed as a threat.  Otherwise the fact remains that China stands to gain more by trading with foreign countries than by running them out of business and therefore I don’t feel that there is a serious threat to foreign countries.

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