Since the end of the Second World War, the relationship between the United States and China has been dominated by intermittent periods of stability and tension. However, many contemporary international relations analysts now believe that conflict with China is inevitable. John J. Mearsheimer posits his belief that “If China continues its impressive economic growth over the next few decades, the United States and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war”.
According to Mearsheimer’s theory of offensive realism, the international system forces states concerned about their security into a power struggle. There are three definitive traits ...view middle of the document...
The modern economy of China dates back to the economic reforms begun in 1978. After years of state control over all productive assets, the government of China implemented a major program of economic reform. In an effort to utilize its abundant population and economic potential, it encouraged the formation of rural enterprises and private businesses, liberalized foreign trade and investment, relaxed state control over some prices, and invested in industrial production and the education of its workforce. The strategy has been incredibly successful in achieving economic goals and contributing to China’s rise in power.
When China began economic reforms in 1978, the country’s gross domestic product was less than 150 billion US dollars; however, by 2012, that figure had surged to 8.2 trillion dollars. Through this process of economic growth over 600 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Additionally, China is now home to 85 Fortune 500 companies and the large, multi-national corporations that have established operations within the country have attracted foreign investors.
By the year 2020, the Chinese economy is predicted to equal that of the United States. According to the World Bank, China is already the world’s largest exporter and its second-largest importer. Additionally, China’s $8.22 trillion economy is now the second largest in the world, second only to the $15.68 trillion U.S. economy. China’s population is also over four times as large as the population of the United States. China’s economic growth rate is expected to continue to increase at a much higher rate than US economic growth because the base upon which its economy will grow is enormous in comparison.
It is also of note that China holds a great deal of United States debt. As of August 2013, China owned $1.268 trillion in U.S. debt. China is the United States’ largest foreign debt holder, owning 23% of the total $5.59 trillion held by foreign countries. Owning U.S. Treasury notes helps China's economy grow by keeping its currency weaker than the dollar. This keeps products exported from China cheaper than U.S. products, creating more jobs for the Chinese people. The U.S., on its part, has allowed China to become its largest creditor because selling debt to China allows the U.S. economy to grow by funding federal government programs while maintaining lower tax rates. It also keeps U.S. interest rates and consumer prices low. However, China's ownership of U.S. debt is shifting the economic balance of power in China’s favor.
In addition to a shrinking economic disparity between the United States and China, many analysts are also concerned about the strength of China’s military power in relation to that of the United States. China’s military, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is the largest in the world, with the strength of approximately 2.25 million active personnel. Additionally, China is swiftly modernizing its army using its growing national...