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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    China is too isolationist

    I love Spider-Man particularly because my favorite quotation comes from his Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

    In recent times, China has become possibly the world’s most important economic power. According to the Financial Times, China’s imports and exports account for over 10 percent of the world’s total. In 2013, China became the world’s number one trader in goods, surpassing the United States, a development that surprised no one. Its trade partners span the entire globe in a massive manifestation of the beauty of free trade.

    A particularly important relationship in China’s economic rise has been with the Middle East. With China’s great industrialization has come an incredible appetite for the world’s resources, and to feed its growing need for energy, China has created expansive trade relationships with the regions of the world that house these resources.

    The National, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper, believes that the Middle East provides nearly three quarters of China’s oil. China is now not only the Middle East’s biggest oil trading partner but also the world’s largest oil importer.

    The question then arises, if China is so economically involved in the Middle East, is it not in its own interest to ensure stability in the region? To China, apparently, the answer is no.

    While the rest of the world takes umbrage at the callous brutalities of ISIS, China has sat back and simply continued its trading. Aside from the unanimous anti-terrorism U.N. Security Council resolution, China has had very little to do with the international coalition against ISIS, nor has it had anything to do with fighting terrorism in any part of the world outside its own borders.

    China has instead concerned itself with clamping down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

    “The Chinese government has been insistent that other countries stay out of China’s internal affairs,” said Brent White, associate dean for programs and global initiatives at the James E. Rogers College of Law, “so one might argue that China is simply being consistent when it stays out of the internal affairs of others.”

    Perhaps China simply respects the sovereignty of nations and has no interest in interventionist schemes or global expansion.

    But China already influences too much of the world’s economy, particularly in developing nations, which in itself creates a security concern for those countries. Likewise, insecurity leads to declines in demand or rises in commodity prices, ultimately affecting the economy in otherwise secure regions. China can’t avoid it; it is involved in even the most distant of conflicts.

    China is expected to become the world’s largest economy before the end of this decade, and an argument for a respectful, non-invasive China isn’t going to fly if China remains quiet on matters of international peace after that happens.

    Being the world’s top economy comes with some “world peace” responsibility. History teaches us that the world’s most powerful forces must maintain strong interests in security outside their borders: the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, French, Spanish and British eras of world power, for example.

    The British did not become the undisputed world power of the 19th century until they chaired the coalition to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte. The U.S., primarily isolationist during its early years, only became a super power upon joining the Allies to defeat Hitler.

    For China to truly become the super power everyone expects it to be, it must take some of the responsibility for world policing. The U.S. cannot forever shoulder the duty of keeping the world safe. If China must count itself an equal of the U.S. in world affairs, then it must do its own fair share of the hard work.

    The ISIS problem represents an opportunity for China. Joining the fight would engender worldwide support, and as much as China might wish to deny it, it has an interest in seeing ISIS lose. ISIS’s destabilization efforts in the economy of the Middle East combined with reports of Uighur militants from China joining ISIS’s ranks make it a direct threat to Chinese peace and hegemony.

    As long as ‘Pax Americana’ continues, the U.S. can rest easy. China may become the world’s biggest economy by the sheer size of its population and output, but the U.S. will remain the world’s sole power as long as its military is the protector of the world’s shipping lanes and enforcer of peace. And as power comes with great opportunities for trade and friendships, the U.S. economy will remain vibrant.

    Until China has its “Eureka!” moment and understands the responsibilities it must shoulder, it will remain a second-class power. China must learn from Spider-Man: With world peace comes great prosperity.

    _______________

    Chikezie Anachu is an international trade and business law student. Follow him on Twitter.

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