Rising powers tend to be cocky and pushy. They believe their time has arrived and they want their just deserts—now. So it is with China.
Alas, there’s a downside, which Beijing has discovered. Rising powers don’t make many friends.
If you listen to the debate on the U.S. presidential campaign trail—not recommended for the faint-hearted!—you’d think America was a helpless Third World state, besieged by enemies deploying vast armies and armadas. The truth is, the United States dominates the globe. Among its advantages is being allied with every major industrialized state, save China and Russia, and is friendly with many other states as well.
The latter point underscores America’s extraordinary global reach. There are many reasons Washington has so much international clout. Much of this has is because U.S. policy has emphasized making friends and acquiring allies.
There are downsides to this approach. Nevertheless, overall the United States is stronger because it has a cooperative relationship with so many other countries.
In contrast, let’s look at the international response to Beijing’s so-called peaceful rise.