The rise of China in both the Asia-Pacific region and the world in general continues to be argued among policy makers and academics, particularly in terms of security and stability. China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region appears to be developing rapidly. Some analysts are apprehensive that China’s rise could see it replace the United States as the dominant power in the region and pose a major threat to stability. Others believe China’s rise will not replace the United States as the central power in the region, but simply became part of the current order. Firstly, this paper will discuss the economy and military power of China stating it is unequal to the United States and will remain so for many more years to come. Secondly, China’s independence with partners within their region will see them reluctant to start any conflicts with them because of the effect that it will have on their domestic economy. Lastly, China’s intentions for a peaceful development are well documented and cannot be seen as a threat to stability within the Asia-pacific region. This essay will argue that the rise of China will not be a threat to Australia’s security.
China is playing an increasingly more important and influential role in the global economy. China has recently become the second largest economy in the world, yet China remains a developing country. There is a general misperception that China’s economy is catching up to the United States. This stems from a number of analytical errors the most common being comparing the US-China power balance from statistics that compare China only to its previous self. For example, there have been studies stating the growth rates of China’s per capita income, technology industry value and military expenditure are exceeding those of the United States concluding China is catching up (Beckley 2011, 44). However, focusing on growth rates conceals China’s decline comparative to the United States in these categories. Beckley (2011, 44) argues, “China’s growth rates are high because its starting point was low. China is rising, but it is not catching up.” Furthermore, the rise of China rests heavily on a single figure: gross domestic product (GDP). China’s GDP over the last two decades has increased relative to the United States’ in terms of purchasing power parity, though it has declined in real terms (Cooper 2005). The per capita income of Chinese remains low and will not reach half of the United States until 2030 (OECD 2012). Therefore, China’s economic power does not rival the Unite states’ and could not for many more years to come.
China’s military capabilities have significantly increased over the past few decades. Its defence budget doubled from 1989 to 1994, and then again from 1994 to 1999, and then there was a further doubling from 2005 to 2009. However, over the last decade it has declined relative to that of the United States (Beckley 2011, 73). The United States’ defence spending exceeds more than half a trillion dollars, which is eight times larger than China’s and growing (even when additional money for the war on terror is excluded). When United States policy makers reduce defence funding in coming years to help decrease the financial deficits, these cuts are unlikely to have significant impact on the spending gap between the United States and China (O’Hanlon 2010). Furthermore, China’s military technology is considerably inferior then that of the United States. Additionally, a recent study conducted by thirty specialists of an independent task force found “no evidence to support the notion that China will become a peer military competitor of the United States… The military balance today and for the foreseeable future strongly favours the United States and its allies.”(Hills and Blair 2007, 54). The United States formal security agreements with Australia and many other Asia-Pacific region nations guarantees stability within the region, therefore China does not pose a threat to...
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