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Special Study China’s Vision of World Order Thomas Fingar If China had an opportunity to refashion the global order, what would it change and what would it seek to accomplish? The question is certainly premature because it will be a long time, if ever, before China has an opportunity to replace or restructure the liberal world order that has been established and led by the United States during the decades since World War II.1 But many, inside and outside China, recognize that the current system is increasingly ill-suited for the challenges of today and tomorrow, and that China will have an important voice in deciding what to keep, what to replace, and what to reengineer.2 That being the case, it is not at all premature to begin asking about China’s objectives and expectations with respect to a post-American world. This chapter relies more on inference and imagination than on discovery and analysis. Beijing has not published or even hinted at the existence of a 1 Stimulating recent works on the origins, character, and possible futures of the global order led and maintained by the United States include G. John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011); Robert Kagan, The World America Made (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012); and Charles A. Kupchan, No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Tumult (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). 2 See, for example, Kupchan, No One’s World, chapter 5; National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World, November 2008, Trends_Final_Report.pdf; and National Intelligence Council, Global Governance 2025: At a Critical Juncture, September 2010, China’s interest in changing the existing system appears to be motivated by the recognition (shared with the United States and many other countries) that old arrangements are no longer adequate to manage the world they helped to create, by a desire to increase China’s influence in the system, and by an ability to use this influence to achieve Chinese objectives. Thomas Fingar is the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He can be reached at . 344 • Strategic Asia 2012–13 vision statement, blueprint, or grand strategy for remaking the global order.3 Desire to keep the plan secret probably is not the reason. A far more likely explanation is that there is no single specific Chinese plan or vision. Party, state, and military leaders, not to mention academics and “netizens,” appear to have significantly different views on what is desirable, what is possible, and how best to pursue particular objectives.4 Views range from very cautious and pragmatic admonitions to eschew statements or actions that might jeopardize China’s ability to sustain rapid growth through participation in the existing world order, to jingoistic calls for China to speed the inevitable power transition to a Chinese-led world.5 Rather than attempt to catalog, compare, and assess the relative strength of the various visions of world order discernible in the Chinese media and scholarly publications, the goal in this chapter is to explore factors that will shape Chinese views with respect to world order and the efforts China will make to change the existing system.6 The chapter first examines Chinese assessments of the current world order, focusing on its importance to China’s “rise” and on attributes that please and displease Chinese geopolitical thinkers. The next section speculates on 3 See, for example, Wang Jisi, “China’s Search for a Grand Strategy: A Rising Great Power Finds Its Way,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 2 (2011): 68–79; Aaron L. Friedberg, A Contest for Supremacy: China, America, and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011); and Thomas Fingar, “China’s Rise: Contingency, Constraints, and Concerns,” Survival 54, no. 1 (2012): 195–204. 4 See, for example, Linda Jakobson and Dean Knox, New Foreign Policy Actors in China (Solna: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2010), pdf; and Chin-Hao Huang, “Assessing the Role of Foreign Policy Elites in China: Impact on Chinese Foreign Policy Formulation,” University of Southern California U.S.-China Institute, September 12, 2011, 5 On power transitions, see, for example, Jack S. Levy, “Power Transition Theory...


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