The only way China will become a threat, I believe, is if we believe it will be a threat. China, when it is afraid, when it feels backed into a corner, it can lash out and it can get very emotional. So anytime there is a perceived assault on the dignity, but even more critically the territorial integrity of China, then things become very unpredictable very quickly. But in general, that need to stand out while fitting in that I talked about on an individual level, also exists on a geopolitical level. The Chinese crave acknowledgment for their rise, but on the other hand they know they can’t do that without the complicity of other nations. There is an established geopolitical order upon which China is dependent to maintain its current progression.
I personally think that if we are confident in the West of our own strengths relative to China and we continue to focus on what we do well, then I don’t think that China will become a threat. We will never compete directly with the Chinese. We are the Yang to Chinese Yin or vice versa. We can be very complementary and we can be collaborators in 21st Century prosperity, but this is going to require a broadened world view of Americans, so that we just don’t see this black Smurf monster rising on the other side of the Pacific and instead, really understand that for the first time in, I think, modern history you have two fundamentally different world views co-existing at the same time. So I think China will be a threat only if we perceive it to be.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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