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98 Foreign Aff. 40 (2019)
The Age of Uneasy Peace: Chinese Power in a Divided World

handle is hein.journals/fora98 and id is 42 raw text is: 




The Age of

Uneasy Peace

Chinese Power in a
Divided World

Yn Xuetong

In early October 2018, U.S,   Vice
     President Mike Pence delivereda
     searing speech at a Washington think
tank, enumerating a long list of reproaches
against China. From territorial disputes in
the South China Sea to alleged Chinese
meddling  in U.S. elections, Pence accused
Beijing of breaking international norms
and acting against American interests. The
tone was unusually bunt-blunt  enough
for some to interpret it as a harbinger of
a new Cold War  between China and the
United States.
   Such  historical analogies are as
popular as they are misleading, but the
comparison  contains a kernel of truth:
the post-Cold War interregnum of U.S.
hegemony  is over, and bipolarity is set to
return, with Chsi na playing the role of the
Jutior superpower. The transition will
be a tumultuous, perhaps even violent,
affair, as Chinas rise sets the country on
a collision course with the United States
over a n1umber of clashing interests. But
as XVashington slowly retreats from some
of its diplomatic and military engage-
ments  abroad, Beijing has no clear plan
for filling this leadership vacuum and
shaping new  international norms from
the ground up.
YAN  XUETONG  is Distinguished Professor and
Dean of the Institute of International Relations
at Tsinghua University.


   What  kind of world order will this
bring? Contrary to what more alarmist
voices have suggested, a bipolar ULS.-
Chinese world will not be a world on
the brink of apocal ypic war. This is in
large part because China's ambitions for
the coming years are much narrower
than many in the Western foreign policy
establishment tend to assume. Rather
than unseating the United States as the
world's premier superpower, Chinese
foreign policy in the coming decade will
largely focus on maintaining the condi-
tions necessary for the country's contin-
ued economic growth-  a focus that will
likely push leaders in Beijing to steer clear
of open confrontation with the United
States or its primary allies. Instead, the
coining bipolarity will be an era of uneasy
peace between the two superpowers. Both
sides will build up their militaries but
remain carefil to manage tensions before
they boil over into outright conflict. And
rather than vie for global supremacy
through opposing alliuaces, Beijing and
Washington  wi  large  carry out their
competition in the economic and techno-
logica realms. At the same time, US.-
Chinese bipolanrity will likely spell the
end of sustained multvlateralism outside
strictly economic realms, as the combi-
nation of nationalist populism in the West
and China' commitment   to national
sovereignty will leave little space for the
kind of political integration and norm
setting that was once the hallmark of
liberal internationalism.

WHAT   CHINA  WANTS
China's growing influence on the world
stage has as much to do with] the United
States' abdication of its global leadership
under President Donald Trump  as with
China's own economic rise. In material


40   FoR    GN   AFFAIRS

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