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A Growing Discomfort in the U.S.

The Rise of china:

A Growing Discomfort in the U.S.

Sandeep Singh

Professor Ram

IRLS 214

October 19, 2009

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The recent financial crisis in the U.S., coupled with the so called “Rise of China,” has put

the United States in a difficult position. As China stepped up its efforts to gain international

recognition as a world power; launching spacewalk missions, increasing its military might,

pursuing a blue water navy capability etc., some in the U.S. question Chinese motives (Barboza,

2008). However, the recent financial crisis that has indebted the U.S. to the Chinese has rendered

the U.S. powerless to do anything beyond doubting its motives (Congressional Research Service

Report for Congress, 2008 p. 2). Although the U.S. needs China for trade, increasing Chinese

influence in the world is causing a growing discomfort in the United States. The sudden rise of

China has softened the U.S. foreign policy towards its adversary as the U.S. reluctantly

recognizes China as a competitor.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan combined with the recession that recently plagued the

U.S. economy has emptied out U.S coffers. Furthermore, these financial strains have forced the

U.S government to borrow money from other nations by issuing treasury bonds. As the largest

foreign holder of treasury bonds, upwards of $1 trillion, China wields an enormous amount of

leverage against the U.S. because at “Any indication that it intends to cease those purchases -- or,

worse, stage a sell-off -- could drive up the cost of borrowing for the U.S. government, as well as

send mortgage rates higher for millions of Americans (Faiola, 2009). As a result of these

developments, the U.S. is forced to recognize china as a worthy competitor. As candidate

Obama, in his campaign speech (2007) declares; China is “neither our enemy nor our friend.

They're competitors” (Obama, 2007).

Hungry for energy, foreign markets, and a world power status, China is increasingly

competing with the U.S. for global influence. Its launch of the Shenzhou VII space craft in

September 2008 marked the third time in five years the Chinese have ventured into space. In his

testimony to the U.S. Senate, Michael Griffin, the administrator of NASA, showed concern when
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he remarked that “China will be able to put people on the Moon before we will be able to get

back” adding further that “I admire what they have done, but I am concerned that it will leave the

United States in its wake” (Barboza, 2008). China has joined an exclusive club of which the only

others members are Russia and the U.S.

China’s interest in space is of little concern to the U.S. compared to China’s interest in

military technology. According to the CRS report (2008), China’s defense budget has increased

by 14.9 percent in the FY 2008, making it the “twenty-first year of double digit increases in PRC

military spending” (p.9). Along with defense budget increases, other aspects of the Chinese

military ambition that have troubled the U.S. include; “lack of PRC military transparency;

recurring instances of apparent PRC attempts to gain U.S. military secrets; evidence of

improving PRC military and technological prowess; and PRC military and technological

assistance to rogue states and other international bad actors” (CRS, 2008, p.8).

China is also in hot pursuit of a blue water navy. According to Thomas Harding (2008),

a British defense analyst, “China has secretly built a major underground nuclear submarine base

[in South China Sea] that could threaten Asian countries and challenge American power in the

region.” In his report, Harding (2008) also expresses concerns for China’s ambitions to acquire

an aircraft carrier. Although China does not yet have the technical knowledge or resources to

build a carrier from scratch, it has bought an unfinished carrier from the Soviets under the false

pretenses of using it for “leisure activities.” According to Harding (2008), China has plans to

“reverse engineer” the ship and will be producing up to six carriers in the next five to ten years.

As in other aspects, China is increasingly becoming capable of competing with the U.S. in Naval

superiority as well.

Although the might of the Chinese military does not impose a direct threat to the United

States, it does however, give the Chinese, coupled with their strong economic ties
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internationally, a great deal of leverage when dealing with the United States (CRS, 2008, p.6).

Furthermore, as noted in the CRS report (2008), “A militarily muscular China with substantial

international economic ties will be able to exercise considerable political power that could

prompt U.S. friends and allies to make different choices, eroding U.S. influence around the

world” (p.6).

In light of these events, it can safely be concluded that China has become a major U.S.

adversary. The economic success achieved by the Chinese is nothing short of a miracle; and this

success has brought prestige and international recognition to the Chinese. China has ambitions to

become a world power. In the pursuit of these ambitions, China is increasingly crossing paths

with U.S. interests. One can only conclude that if China and the U.S. stay on the current path, the

U.S. might one day find China to be a worthier adversary.

In order to avoid future conflict with China, the United States should broaden its diplomatic

ties with China to include joint ventures in the fields of technology and space exploration. It is

vitally important to make the Chinese feel that they share, aside from economic ties, other

political and social ties with the U.S. as well. On the other hand, the U.S. should take a firm

stand against China’s violation of human rights. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied

basic human right to its citizens and has oppressed the rights of its minorities (CRS, 2008, p.24).

The U.S. should maintain its stance against the violation of human rights anywhere and

everywhere and assert that certain principles cannot be compromised for the sake of economic



Barboza, D. (2008, September 25). China Launches Spacewalk Mission. The NY Times.

Retrieved on 20 October, 2009 from
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Congressional Research Service. (2008). China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications.

Retrieved from

Faiola, A. (2009, March 14). China Worried about U.S. Debt. Retrieved October 21, 2009 from


Harding, T. (2008). China’s Nuclear Submarine Base. Retrieved from


Obama, B. (2007). Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved on October 21, 2009 from

Tyson, A.(2009,March 13). Destroyer to Protect Ship near China. The Washington Post.

Retrieved on October 20, 2009 from

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