The Economist: China's great game in Asia
Why are there so few takers outside China for its self-proclaimed doctrine of “peaceful rise”?
LIKE the emergence of Germany in the 19th century and of America in the 20th, China's rapid rise to superpower status generates as much fear as admiration. The fears are most acute in its own neighbourhood. Yet from an historical perspective, one of the more remarkable developments of recent years may be China's submission to the tiny threads of international constraint, especially in its own region. It belongs to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum, whose members span the Pacific. The East Asia Summit and the regional forum of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) tie it closer to its Asian neighbours. The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation links it with Russia and Central Asia.
More than this, it has shown active good-neighbourliness. A generation ago, China disputed most of its borders. Almost all have been settled, with the notable exceptions of those with Japan at sea and India in the Himalayas. Even in the case of the huge claims China and India have on each other's territory, China has acquiesced in seemingly never-ending talks allowing relations to improve in other areas. It no longer routinely provokes its southern neighbours by flexing naval muscles around the sand-and-coral specks in the South China Sea where six countries' claims overlap. It has begun to “consult”, after a fashion, the lower riparian states affected when it dams its rivers, such as the Mekong and the Salween. ...