China threat theory

Jun 15, 2021

China’s mission to the European Union urged NATO on Tuesday to stop exaggerating the “China threat theory” after the group’s leaders warned that the country presents “systemic challenges.”

China has won acclaims for its significant economic and social achievements since the reform and opening-up, but at the same time it has been seen as a threat by many countries.

Conflict of interest, an underlying cause of “China threat theory”

The “China threat theory” is caused by the country’s rapid growth in economic and military strength, and is bound to accompany the country’s rise as a great power.

In the eyes of certain Western powers, China’s rise poses a challenge to the traditional Western-led international order and geopolitical landscape. According to the history of capitalism’s rise, the rise of all great powers was accompanied by the use of force and wars. For example, the rise of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Japan all followed the same old path of wealth accumulation, military buildup, and military expansion. Western international relations theories formed on this basis, be it the Western power shift theory or hegemony transfer theory, believe that China’s rise will cause a shift of power among countries and break the existing international order, which will cause global instability and even wars.

Therefore, the real reason for Western countries to propagate the “China threat theory” is that they are afraid that China will challenge the existing international status when it becomes strong. The western countries hope to restrict the rise of China by means of the “China threat theory.”

“China threat theory” has dual effect of containment and stimulation

In order to curb and interfere with China’s development, the Western countries hype the new round of “China threat theory.” However, the result is counterproductive. The “China threat theory” exaggerated by the Western countries for decades produced a dual effect of containment and stimulation.

On one hand, the “China threat theory” damaged the image of China and deterred the development pace of China. It deteriorated the surrounding environment of China to some extent and made China must face a more complex international environment and withstand more external pressure.

On the other hand, as an imposed power, the “China threat theory” strengthened China’s sense of crisis and stimulated the rise and development of China. According to the “challenge-response” theory of British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, the organism will instinctively produce a series of effective responses in the face of challenges and ultimately promote its development.

Take a calm and initiative attitude in response to “China threat theory”

The “China threat theory” has become a preferred tool in the domestic politics of some countries, and has become a power discourse in the international community. Whenever some countries suffer from relevant domestic political issues, they often take the “China threat theory” as shields. For example, in the currently heated U.S. presidential election, the “China threat theory” is the stock in trade of the Obama administration. Facing the “China threat theory,” we have to be calm and initiative, but also take the following effective methods.

Firstly, have a calm state of mind compatible with other dominant countries. Secondly, continue to promote and intensify international cooperation. Thirdly, actively build a favorable national image. Fourthly, unswervingly follow the road of peaceful development.

Therefore, the fundamental way to offset the negative effects of “China threat theory” is to vigorously develop China’s national strength. Besides, we should concentrate on our own business so as to ride out the current critical period of development. By then, the “China threat theory” as a special historical symbol in China’s development process will naturally fade.

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