Changing China

Giant on the move

China is powerful. Now what?

May 15, 2009

What exactly is China’s grand strategy? Diplomats, academics and, yes, journalists have spent countless hours, pulled out innumerable hairs and spilled endless ink trying to figure out where the fast-rising power is headed and what it will want when it gets there.

But China itself sometimes seems much less sure of its political and economic goals than outside experts believe. Great power can breed great uncertainty about what to do. A vivid illustration of that came in a speech on Friday by Zhou Xiaochuan, China’s central bank governor.

Zhou noted that China had a seat at the high table at the G20 crisis summit in London in April, was winning more voting rights at the International Monetary Fund and would help draw up new international financial guidelines.

“But we are confronting a challenge,” Zhou said. “You are better represented, your voice is louder and you have more speaking rights, but have you really thought about what you want, about what affects China and the world in China’s eyes, about what is important?”

“A lot of these questions are very new and we have yet to form a complete, consistent opinion. I have seen lots of scholars with all kinds of ideas, but these have yet to grow into a unified national will that we can act on or into concrete objectives that we can fight for.”

Photo caption: File photo of Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, on March 30, 2009.  REUTERS/Jose Miguel Gomez


This is a new role for China to adjust to. The dragon has been on a Western leash for centuries and was told to believe that it was a puppy. Now that the dragon knows its not a puppy it has to learn how to act like a dragon.


China needs to be more confident in articulating its national interests, and it needs to be less shy about exerting its will to carry out its goals. It needs to take better care of its own people, and be more harsh to foreigners who still think they can run amok in China with impunity. China has a big stick, but it needs to learn to raise it and use it to get its own way. In essence, it needs to learn to be like America in order to gain the respect of others, especially the west. The west only understand power, not civility.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

When the western powers were all mighty and powerful in the 1800′s, they send troops, 10,000 strong against the millions in China, to invade, to sack, to loot, and left when their greed was satisfied.When China was strong, China sent troops, hundreds of thousands strong, to invade, to sack, to loot, and annihilates those won’t submit to their superpower status.Do you think China will behave differently this time ?

Posted by Bill Rich | Report as abusive

Who are they going to sack? I don’t think there’s a whole lot China wants to “loot” in their neighborhood, and their navy’s got nothing on even South Korea’s, so comparing today to “when China was strong” – referring, I assume, to the Tang Dynasty (when most Western nations were barely even formed and Japan was still just getting on its feet) doesn’t work here.I think it’s going to take longer than people expect for China to adjust to its larger role in global affairs. Chinese officials tend to like “testing the waters” more than making a lot of noise on an international level. A lot of their hesitance is tied up with a fear of being painted unfavorably in future history books.So I don’t think they’re exactly “unsure of themselves.” They probably just haven’t figured out where to begin exerting their power first and targeting their energy towards something they are 99% certain will work in their favor.


It’s has been a thousand of years is one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures. Many ethnic groups have existed in China. In terms of the numbers, however, the pre-eminent ethnic group is the Han Chinese. Throughout history, many groups have been assimilated into neighbouring ethnicities or disappeared without a trace. At the same time, many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional cultural traditions. They stick together with trust, hard work, and have the same goal to support one another. That’s the reason for their successful today, because of their loyal, trust, and has the same dream to help one another. This is just the beginning of the dragon who just growth up, and it will shake the earth.Due to their history of war, that the reason for the man to gather together today and reunite as a big country. They have left behind in technology as well as many other, due to their capital growth, they have spend more funds to develop technology as well as educate themselves with the western world.


We have now seen where Laissez-Faire liberal democracy has led us. Chinese leaders have numerous times proclaimed that China is not going to follow the Western democracy. Western democracy is based on individualism, and extreme individualism at that. We need cooperation based on collective interests to solve the problems our global village faces. China is in an excellent position to steer the world in a different direction, a direction based on not only human rights, but also human responsibility.

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

The current economic recession around the world is an excellent opportunity for China to take a great leap forward. The most important aspect for what’s next for China is technological innovation. China should allocate more funds to support research and development. President Obama as acted, so should China.


Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see