China: Global Hegemony is a Delusion

As the world is preoccupied with China’s expanding global influence, the US views its attitude toward this vigorous opponent especially ambiguous.

ChinaIn 2011, Chinese former President Hu Jintao visited the White House and gave a carefully constructed speech, during which he presented challenges China is facing intended to diffuse the fear in Washington triggered by the rise of China.

But last week, the New York Times has found solid proof for China’s covered hostility to the US — the newspaper reported that Chinese hackers under official military command had infiltrated into its computer system and stole passwords to its reporters’ accounts — a counter-attack in the defense of the Times’ investigation over the family’s financial status of China’s former Primer Minister Wen Jiabao.

The seemingly paradoxical acts of China make people wonder: Should the US and the rest of the world dread the rising momentum of China after all? It is crucial to bear another question in mind before answering the above: What makes the rising of a superpower fearful?

Most countries would be intimidated by strong economic, political and military strength of that power, but for a hegemon like the US, the universal approbation of its competitor’s ideology could be threatening as well. The truth is, however, China’s grow has little to do with ideological expansionism — there still is a question mark over the definition of today’s Chinese ideology, let alone the possibility of storing a motivation to propel this ideology in a similar way which the US did to democracy.

The ignorant still might think Maoist Communism is what China proposes. But that has long been untrue for China. “Maoism shouldn’t be considered as Chinese,” said professor James Hsiung from New York University. “It violated the principles of harmonization in Confucianism.”

Then what is today’s China?

We don’t know. Since 1978, Deng Xiaoping landed Socialism with Chinese characteristics — a distinctive state capitalist system, the so-called China model — that China is becoming neither fish nor flesh. So it’s unreasonable to ever suggest China could be proposing its ideology universally; its ideology is perplexed even by itself.

And there is a matter of desire. Throughout history, imperialism has been a habit for Western superpowers. In China’s case, such motivation does not exist; Chinese civilization does not conquer other civilizations, it asks for mutual respect.

Another demonstration for China won’t be intimidating to the indispensability of the US, which is busy with its own affairs. Hegemonic responsibility could be unbearable for it. For example, viewing from the outside, China’s GDP increases with a striking speed, whereas the inside truth is dim: per-capita income is too low to foster higher level of consumption, staggering the future growth of the market.

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There is also a vast chasm between the rich and the poor, this is growing. According to research conducted by Sim Chi Yin, an expert on China who writes for the New York Times, the country

“has 2.7 million millionaires and 251 billionaires (in United States dollars). But 13 percent of its people live on less than $1.25 per day, according to United Nations data. Meanwhile, average annual disposable income in the cities is about $3,500. ”

Discontent and hatred of the privileged and the wealthy are sentiments of frequent occurrence on the Chinese cyber communities. Anger can be expressed anonymously and honestly online, especially on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

And there is always a huge concern over the devastating pollution problem. With the rapid increase of national energy consumption, poisonous gas generated by coal combustion and insufficiently controlled discharges threatens people’s health. Last month, Beijing reported its air pollution index, indicating the level has already peaked to the worst — t hat “people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors,” and “everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.”

China needs more than strong economic and military muscle to stand up to the US as an equal; it seems like the prospect of China soon taking over the indispensable position of the US is a poor augury. To be considered a hegemon, it takes more than that.

Mia Wang is a MA student in Comparative Politics at the New York University. Her research concentrates on the US-China relations. She is now interning at Asian American Writer’s Workshop – a nonprofit literary arts organization founded in 1991 to support of writers, literature and community that mainly with Asian backgrounds, based in New York City. Before attending NYU, Mia received two BA’s in both International Relations and French Literature at the Ohio State University. She wants to pursue a career in journalism after graduation. 

  • w

    The double-standards of americans. When America refuses the green peace treaty, its all good, but when China pollutes its suddenly an act of aggression? When America invades Chinese air space its all good, but when China RIGHTFULLY tells them to buzz off china is labelled aggressive? When, in this very article, you say it is perfectly okay for America to hack into China, its all good but when China DARES to retaliate its an act of aggression?
    americans are seriously the most shamelessly deluded people in existence. americans hate integrity and will hypocritically threaten the world and in their characteristic idiocy become shocked when they are called out on it.
    thankyou for clarifying that Americas truly are self-serving opponents of world peace, I understand that with your American upbringing you have little respect for the virtues of justice and truth, instead glorifying death and destruction of any soil that doesn’t bend to America, but even so I will still call you out for doing the possible: creating a black and white scenario in real life, where America is the pure axis of evil.

  • Mr. Obvious

    Double standards? Of course. The United States is the most powerful nation in the history of the human race, of course it is allowed to have double standards. The U.S. has been unusually kind to the world with the power it wields, when it invades nations, it pays for the resources! (Example: Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan) The U.S. instead of simply invading its weak neighbors, it opens trade agreements with them.
    Is the United States hypocritical? Yes. But when its the United States who foots the bill of keeping peace around the world it has the right to be. On the day China steps up to the world stage and accepts the responsibly the U.S. has for nearly a century, then China has the right to be upset with the U.S. hypocrisy.