Politics and Environment

China’s long asymmetric rise to power

08 May 2015

US China relationships

Human Capital Alliance Senior Advisor K I Woo explores a leading American advisor’s China views.

After decades serving several US presidents, former Pentagon and CIA officials Michael Pillsbury concludes that China has a “secret strategy” to usurp America as the global superpower.

In his new best seller “The Hundred Year Marathon” Pillsbury who is now the Hudson Institute’s Center on Chinese Strategy’s director said current US leaders have been naïve in dealing with China’s rising power.

Pillsbury concludes that US leaders are wrong in assuming that: engagement with China brings cooperation, China is on the road to democracy, China is a fragile flower, China wants to be – and is just like us and Chinese hawks are weak.

“Chinese leaders have persuaded many in the West to believe that China’s rise will be peaceful and will not come at others expense, even while the adhere to a strategy that fundamentally reject this,” he claims.

Few new real revelations

Although Pillsbury’s assumptions may surprise many Americans, most thinkers understand why China rejects following the US in becoming an aggressive, ideological and hegemonic leader as it gains political and economic power.

In asserting, that China is secretly plotting to overtake US hegemonic power, Pillsbury has in fact carefully showed how China’s centuries of history has given it wisdom to use asymmetric power to surpass the US by 2049.

China, he said will not make the Soviet Union’s mistake of trying to beat the US with a military arms race.

“Chinese literature often highlights the role of deception and the need for the “sage” – that is the wise statesman – to penetrate the deception around him to find the hidden signals to reality.”

Role of deception

Pillsbury said that China is using its historical affinity for using deception to overtake the US as the global superpower.

The Chinese he said value highly the importance of strategic deceptions.

“Deceive the heavens to cross the oceans.”

Moreover, Chinese hawks have regularly demanded that China wipe clean past humiliations by misleading and manipulating American policy makers to obtain intelligence and military, technological assistance.

In arriving at such a conclusion, Pillsbury affirms that China is following Sun Tzu’s wise supreme art of war strategy to subdue enemies without fighting.

Backward nation portrayal

As part of its marathon asymmetric strategy, Pillsbury said China has long portrayed itself as a backward nation in need of assistance for its “peaceful rise”.

In addition to denying any desire to exercise global leadership, or to clash with US, the Chinese constitution specifically prohibits the nation from becoming a hegemon.

Although these notions are confirmed by ideological allies who populate academia, think tanks, financial institutions and government, China’s hawks Pillsbury said sees these moderate as “cancer cells that will lead to China’s demise.”

Cannot be two suns in the sky

Throughout its history, China has developed military and political strategies some of which date back to the Warring state period and as far back as 4000 BC.

The Chinese, he said believe that a hierarchal system without a ruler at the top is unnatural and merely transitional. “There cannot be two suns in the sky,” quoting Confucious.

Consequently, China’s ultimate historical view is to gradually change the current multipolar world to a new global hierarchy with China alone at the top.

Tian Xia

Pillsbury said “Tian Xia” or “under heaven” as the overriding Chinese belief that ultimately the world will be a unified global system with China’s superior civilization at the top.

“At the center of a civilized world, China has the responsibility to “improve” all nations and people by “harmonizing” them – spreading Chinese values, language and culture so they can better fit under heaven.

This empire, he said values order over freedom, ethics over law and elite governance over democracy and human rights

“By 2049 China wins the economic marathon and will have an economy twice the size of the US.”

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