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America and the West face a very serious challenge from the East, but not in terms of the conventional definitions of the Chinese threat, says Stefan Halper in an article for the American Spectator. Halper argues that China has no interest of military competition with the United States.

Chinese military development might more accurately be described as a "just-in-case"  capacity to "puncture" the American battlespace, says Halper. China seeks to leapfrog American military hardware with the development of high-tech, close-in weapons, which target American vulnerabilities, principally U.S. reliance on communications and intelligence technology.

With regard to Taiwan threat, Halper reminds us that China has become Taiwan's largest trading partner while Taiwan has become one of China's biggest investors, thus the economic effects of a war between the two sides today would be catastrophic for both sides.

Another myth is Chinese economic threat. China has as much interest in keeping the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar stable as Americans themselves, argues Halper. The Chinese government has purchased American debt for the simple reason that such purchases sustain the macro-economic engine that Beijing relies on. The more serious problem, says Halper, is how this stable system of mutual dependence can weaken America's voice on the global stage. He thinks that the realities of economic interdependence blunt American influence on other issues that underpin the U.S.-led system of international liberal order, such as progress on human rights, the rule of law, and free speech in the world beyond the West.

According to Halper globalization led the societies into bigger economic integration, it helped non-western nations to get richer, but it did not help to make them more democratic or close to the West. There is a rise of state capitalism that, as opposed to the liberal capitalism, lays a base for political and ideological conflicts. China model of illiberal capitalism became an example of development for the non-democratic regimes over the world. Beijing has provided the world's most compelling, high-speed demonstration of how to liberalize economically without surrendering to liberal politics, says Halper.

Ideas have traditionally been among the West's most important exports, and now China's rise on the world stage coincides with a time when the appeal of free market capitalism and Western democracy-as exemplified by the American brand-has, at least momentarily, been lost in a tide of disdain across the globe.

Halper agrees with Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, who, speaking about the opportunities of "soft power," famously said: "It's not whose Army wins, it's whose story wins." This is the real battle today; ideology and the example is the real threat that China poses to the United States. | read in depth |  Montreal Review



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