Will China stay on course?

A clash with China is almost inevitable, says Henry Kissinger. If both sides try really hard, then a clash can be avoided.

What do you think? Will both sides try really hard to avoid a clash?

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger just published a book On China. The central thesis of the book is that if you look structurally at a rising power of the magnitude of China and an established power of the magnitude of the United States – with the huge cultural differences and the huge differences in their perspectives on history – there is, at some level, an almost inevitable clash.

How can this be avoided? What is the strategy that both countries should follow so that you don’t end up with this historical drama replaying itself one more time?

The answer is you need a real strategic commitment from the elites of both countries to try to maintain a very strong relationship.  Both sides must understand the stakes.

Will China stay on course?

Here is a little story about China’s thirst for revenge because of the humiliation inflicted upon it by the West in the 19th century.

The king who slept on brushwood and tasted gall is as familiar to Chinese as King Alfred and his cakes are to Britons, or George Washington and the cherry tree are to Americans. In the early 20th century he became a symbol of resistance against the treaty ports, foreign concessions and the years of colonial humiliation.

Sponsored Ads

Taken like that, the parable of Goujian sums up what some people find alarming about China’s rise as a superpower today. Ever since Deng Xiaoping set about reforming the economy in 1978, China has talked peace. Still militarily and economically too weak to challenge America, it has concentrated on getting richer. Even as China has grown in power and rebuilt its armed forces, the West and Japan have run up debts and sold it their technology. China has been patient, but the day when it can once again start to impose its will is drawing near.

Brushwood and gall

This parable tells us the future between China and America. It is a future of war. In case you are not convinced, here is another interesting historical tidbid.

Geat power rivalries in history:

1. Spain versus Holland in the 16th century. [War]
2. Holland versus England in the 17th century. [War]
3. Britain versus France in both the 18th and 19th centuries. [War]
4. France and Britain versus Germany in the 20th century. [War]
5. Germany versus Russia in 1914. [War]
6. Germany versus Russia (Soviet Union) in 1941. [War]
7. Soviet Union versus the US and its allies in the Cold War after 1945. [No War]

When an empire meets a challenger, then war occurs 6 out of 7 times.