The separate articles by Ringmar and Beckley that were provided offer a well-rounded perspective of the current, past, and future states of economic relations between China and the United States. Ringmar’s study focuses primarily on the pragmatics of discourse (mainly performance) and how they have skewed the understanding of historical approaches to international relations. Acting in compliment to Ringmar’s qualitative analysis, Beckley’s paper adds a quantitative review of the true state of economic comparison between these countries.
The primary message associated with both pieces of research is that the so-called rise of China is nothing to be feared, and probably doesn’t exist to begin with. According to Ringmar’s research, US fear toward the Chinese economy is largely based in the territorial Westphalian roots of American international policy. In this system, nations are defined by their land and are assumed to have equal power. While this may sound good in theory, the result has actually been the impedance of international relations due to a gridlock of power in the decision making process.
In contrast to the Westphalian perspective, historical East Asian systems like the Sino-centric approach of China and, to a lesser extent, the Tokugawa style of Japan depend much less on territorial boundaries and more so on actual relationships between national units. Although these systems were not based on equality and were clearly hierarchical, they made for better international relationships (a concept that is sorely missed in today’s political scene). As such, international relations could actually benefit from an increase in Chinese influence. Superseding all of this information are the results of Beckly’s study: that China is not now, has not been, nor will be a challenge to the international economic dominance of the United States. Accordingly, there is no need to worry about the supposed rise at all.
Even with this information, the US is unlikely to stop planning for the Chinese rise, and has several considerations for tempering this occurrence (other than conflict and accommodation). One approach is to adopt neomercantilism; a foreign policy aimed at national preservation by placing high restrictions on Chinese economic relations. A less extreme (and less antisocial) approach is to foster a relationship with China that economically benefits both countries. The usefulness of these or any other potential strategies is debatable depending on perspectives toward the influence of Chinese growth.
The rise of other states would not be likely to impact the power of America’s international position. As research has demonstrated, a move forward by China would not present a challenge, so there is no reason to believe that any other country would pose a threat in this sense. However, the US perspective is that a rising China is a threat, and it is quite possible that they would also judge the economic rise of any nation with international influence to be a threat to American hegemony.
A final thought is that it appears American policy makers are not grasping the nature of their economic relationship with China and similar nations. As Ringmar noted, the time has come to examine the impact of discourse on political understanding. Beckley provides some important points to consider in future related research, mainly that the concept of national growth, economic or otherwise, may not be an accurate measure of a nation’s conditio