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China’s Rise and Cold War with the US Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2021

Introduction

The world order is an essential phenomenon in international politics because it helps structure various affairs among states and avoid severe disputes. After World War II ended, the United States and the Soviet Union dealt with establishing the order as they were the most powerful nation. The collapse of the USSR in the 1990s strengthened the position of the USA in the whole world. However, the information above does not mean that the US is the hegemon having no influential competitors. At present, the rise of China is considered a great challenge for the existing world order. It refers to the fact that China’s aggressive domestic and foreign policies can make the USA respond sharply to them. This state of affairs is said to result in the second Cold War, this time between the United States and China. Thus, it is necessary to apply the concepts of liberalism and constructivism to understand the real reasons and probable consequences of the rise of China for the world.

Theoretical Approaches

Liberalism is a requested political approach that is applied by many developed states. This theory is based on such concepts as equality, freedom of speech, private property, and anti-war movements. According to Doyle, it is not a homogenous phenomenon since it is represented by liberal pacifism, liberal imperialism, and liberal internationalism, each of which has its own peculiarities.1 On the one hand, liberal pacifism stipulates that countries are peaceful and do not initiate aggression of any kind. It is based on capitalism and democracy, which explains the unattractiveness of war for these states. Warfighting rarely happens to be beneficial, both economically and socially. On the other hand, liberal imperialism justifies and welcomes expansion. This expansion is said to be a response of a nation to the existence of other states with the same objectives.2 In turn, liberal internationalism is the combination of the previous two. Thus, Ikenberry mentions that this theory makes states cooperate to achieve mutual goals.3 However, Doyle argues that many liberal nations have fought wars with non-liberal ones because of the conflict of interest.4 Thus, different kinds of liberalism represent various approaches to international politics.

At the same time, constructivism represents a different political thought. This theory supposes that identities are of crucial importance in international politics since they help states realize their positions and relations in the world.5 These identities help nations make decisions and expect appropriate actions from other countries. In addition to that, constructionists emphasize that both material and discursive power are required to be a fully-fledged member of international politics.6 When everything is evident with the material strength, discursive one stands for the significance of knowledge and ideology. Finally, constructivism explains that both foreign and domestic social practices are principal for a state to shape its foreign policy actions.7 In other words, various social shocks can make a country follow either a moderate or sharp strategy in the domain of international politics.

The Rise of China

The rise of China is considered a substantial issue because it can bring some changes to the world order. This term mainly refers to developments seen in various economic spheres of the Asian country. Furthermore, the state implements foreign policy decisions that evoke severe concerns in the USA. It refers to the fact that China’s aggression is said to focus on reshaping the distribution of powers in East Asia.8 In addition to that, one should not forget that some economic and political tensions exist between Beijing and Washington. For example, higher tariffs and appropriate limitations on some Chinese products prove this state of affairs. What is more, this situation is evolving against the background of precise social problems within China. If the US responds to this sharply, it is possible to expect another Cold War that will have negative consequences for the whole world.

Case Analysis

Both liberalism and constructionism can be used to explain China’s actions outlined above. On the one hand, liberal imperialism is suitable to justify the Chinese foreign policy. It refers to the fact that Beijing sees that other states strengthen their positions, which makes China expand their interests to get an impact on the region of East Asia. At the same time, liberal internationalism stipulates that various visions of the world order can be a significant reason for China to enter a war against the US. On the other hand, constructivism mentions that the Chinese foreign policy is a response to some domestic affairs. Beijing realizes its identity and that of the United States, which makes it unreasonable to initiate severe conflicts.

Even though each theory has some value in understanding the case above, constructivism seems to be the most suitable. It refers to the fact that Chinese aggression is said to be diversionary. At present, Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, is facing some problems with the elite because of his anti-corruption campaign and desire to rule for life9. Thus, he needs an external threat that would consolidate society and deflect attention from these domestic affairs. This decision would influence ideology, and this is another characteristic feature of constructivism. The information above makes it clear that China does not have direct intentions to enter a war against the US. However, some aggressive foreign policy actions can evoke the United States to take sharp retaliatory measures that would escalate the existing tension.

Conclusion

International politics is a complex phenomenon that is represented by many issues. Now, the rise of China is the most challenging question for the whole world. The Chinese foreign policy is considered by the US as reshaping the existing distribution of powers in East Asia, which can have negative consequences. Two political theories can be used to analyze this case, and they are liberalism and constructivism. At the same time, the latter is said to be the most suitable because it explains that the Chinese foreign policy is a result of its domestic issues. Thus, it is possible to avoid any war between China and the USA if Washington realizes the reasons for the rise of China.

Bibliography

Carter, Erin B. Brookings Institution, 2019. Web.

Doyle, Michael W. The Nobel Prize. 2019. Web.

Hopf, Ted. “The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory.” International Security 23, no. 1 (1998): 171–200.

Ikenberry, John G. International Affairs 94, no. 1 (2018): 7–23. Web.

Footnotes

  1. Michael W. Doyle, “Liberal Internationalism: Peace, War and Democracy,” The Nobel Prize, Web.
  2. Doyle, “Liberal Internationalism: Peace, War and Democracy,” para. 17.
  3. John G. Ikenberry, “The End of Liberal International Order?” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (2018): 12, Web.
  4. Doyle, “Liberal Internationalism: Peace, War and Democracy,” para. 25.
  5. Ted Hopf, “The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory,” International Security 23, no. 1 (1998): 175.
  6. Hopf, “The Promise of Constructivism,” 177.
  7. Hopf, “The Promise of Constructivism,” 179.
  8. Erin B. Carter, “Diversionary Aggression in Chinese Foreign Policy,” Brookings Institution, 2019, 1, Web.
  9. Carter, “Diversionary Aggression in Chinese Foreign Policy,” 1.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "China’s Rise and Cold War with the US." June 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/chinas-rise-and-cold-war-with-the-us/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'China’s Rise and Cold War with the US'. 8 June.

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