The Rise of China
Exploring the Rise of China Through a Realist, Liberal, and Constructivist Lens
The international response to the growth of China can be explained by different international theory lenses. China has sustained economic growth and has been gaining technological, political, and social power over the course of the decade. As China grows in power, the international response can be explained using the realist, liberal, and constructivist lens.
According to realism the rise of China will lead to a security competition between the United States and China. This will occur because according to the realists states are self-interested and competitive and the primary focus is power and how it can gain more power. The U.S. exists as the “unipole” of the anarchic world, so it will see the rise of China as a threat to its own power and the rise of China will lead to the security dilemma, as each states will seek to secure itself against the other, only causing the other state to secure itself more, and this continuous spiral. Eventually, this will lead to a power struggle between the two poles. The U.S. is not the only state affected by the growth of China, but also neighboring states. For example, Japan fears the strength of China.
The rise of China can also be examined through the liberal lens. According to liberals, economic interdependence and increasing participation in the international institutions will lead to China to integrate itself in the interdependent world. In addition, if democratization occurs in China the rise of China does not present a threat to peace.
According to constructivists, whether China is a threat depends on how the states perceive each other and themselves. As China accepts the international norms, and begins to identify itself as a contributor to the world, conflict is less likely to occur. These three theories give very different explanations of how the world will respond to the rise of China.
However, the theory that best accounts for the international response is the realist theory. The response of several countries has shown that states perceive China’s growth as a threat and are securing themselves against the threat.