Most outside analysts believe that China is experiencing the most secure and threat-free period in its post-1949 history. But, China's military leaders appear to perceive the international environment as dangerous and threatening. Since the end of World War II, China has had an uncertain foreign policy climate, but now, with the exception of the volatile situation in Taiwan, China appears to have no external threats. Despite this, there is a contradiction within the Chinese ranks about the direction the country should take with regard to the way China should build its military.
On the one hand, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is trying to build the military into a strong military force, while on the other hand, civilian groups are saying that the resources that go into the military should be diverted into more effective programs as there are still many people that live in poverty in that country. It all comes down to how dangerous the country actually is.
[...] Therefore, the idea of a responsible great power is one that is diplomatic, but not willing to give concessions on their core emotional issues. Mark Leonard argues that China is seeking a special kind of power. Although China's concern with national sovereignty and the power of the state arose at a time when China feared incursions from foreign powers, these ideas are now being projected on to the world outside. It does not want to protect the country from foreign intruders, but it does want to promote a Chinese view of sovereignty. [...]
[...] In this position of power and global influence, the Chinese leave themselves vulnerable to a whole range of future threats, including global instability and attack from inside or outside the nation. While it is hard to predict right now that any country would really pose a threat to China in the near future, it is not hard to imagine that non-traditional actors, like terrorists, might pose a threat to the Chinese state. The nature of threats is not what they used to be, and a sophisticated team of terrorists, who seemingly hold not national affiliation, could be very dangerous to China and other countries as well. [...]
[...] China's increased involvement with the many regional organizations reflects many factors, particularly China's evolving recognition that these institutions are neither set up to be hostile or constraining against China and its role in the Asian framework. China has come to understand that these groupings are open to Chinese perspective and influence and may have some utility in constraining the United States in the region. China's increased military involvement also represents a coming together of views about the norms that should govern interstate relations among China, ASEAN and the SCO states. [...]
[...] According to Gilbert Rozman China's notion of “great power identity” relates to its mission to seek identity in the triangular relations of power. China became the leader in the great-power summitry in 1997-98. They built on the strategic partnerships achieved with Russia and striving to block the expansion of alliances as seen in the US-Japan defense guidelines, Beijing looked to equal, bilateral relations among the great powers as the core of a balanced international system favorable for China's rise. The order of pursuit was solidifying new ties to Russia; building new partnerships with the United States; and stabilizing ties with Japan. [...]
[...] China's pragmatic leader understand that it is both a means to legitimate the CCP's rule and also uphold a means for the Chinese people, especially the liberal nationalist elite, to judge the performance of the Communist state. Nevertheless, this pragmatic nationalism is manageable. The reality is that Beijing is seeking to rein in rising Chinese nationalism, particularly its liberal strand, while preventing the even more threatening nativist and anti-traditional strands from emerging. It is certainly not in the government's interests to allow the emotional, nationalistic rhetoric heard on the street to dictate Chinese foreign policy. [...]
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