An issue of paramount importance in global politics today is that of the economic development of China into both a regional and global powerhouse. China is soon to be a country which many predict will share superpower status with the US alone in years to come, or even exceed it1. However it seems that China’s economic development brings more apprehension than enthusiasm2 from many countries worldwide; according to the Economist (2012, May 5th-11th, pp. 25-7), “at best, mutual strategic mistrust seems too deeply ingrained to eradicate” between the US and China, it’s soon to be rival for exclusive superpower status. The reason for American concern mainly arises from its current dominant status in global politics (which could come to be challenged) and the currently and historically incompatible ideology of China with the Western democratic system2. Therefore, while China's stunning economic growth has convinced the West that it is just a matter of time until China becomes a world superpower, its ideological viewpoint makes China an ascendant power that is threatening both to the US’s preferred global cultural and political hierarchy.
In respect to the most important other diplomatic entity of today, the USA there are three main factors that make China’s economic ascendancy seem threatening to America; firstly, ideological and cultural factors make China a threat. For some American conservatives, the mere fact that China is still officially Communist is a point of discontent. China’s economic growth and the possible spread of its “soft power” (which it is indeed attempting5) represent a potential clash of civilizations, between Western ways and Confucian civilization. For those using this argument, the ideal diplomatic response from the US is containment of such culture in the short run, and in the long run, the promotion of a peaceful transformation within China. The second factor is composed of geopolitical and geo-economic factors. Even though China has left behind some of its past hard-line Communist stance6, as a great power in size (territory, population, and economy), China has interests it will continue to pursue that may lead it to clash with other nations. The last factor that makes China’s economic growth a diplomatic threat is the potential for its collapse. While not seen as likely, some are concerned that if China were to suffer a USSR-like collapse and subsequent splintering, dire consequences would arise. The sheer size of the population (of course, the largest in the world) makes potential refugee problems, and other crises such as civil war, crime, proliferation of nuclear weapons and so on, a highly challenging prospect. China’s economic growth has created a diplomatic relationship with the US which has alternated between conflict and engagement, as the US initially pressured China to reform its human rights record in order to be allowed trade, then leaving this policy behind as China grew in power after 2000. Currently, China’s continued growth means conflict7 could be once more on the cards, with the US moving spy planes and ships into the South China Sea, and “beefing up alliances in the region” (The Economist, May 5th –May 11th 2012) with South Korea, Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
An important neighbour nearer to China, the country of Japan has a different set of reasons to feel upset by China's rise. Although Japan has been indebted in cultural terms to China since the time of the Tang dynasty8, in terms of writing systems and customs, Sino-Japanese military conflict, especially in the last century, resulted in strong mutual animosity, the Chinese themselves angered over wartime atrocities9 committed by the Japanese10. The Japanese are deeply involved in Taiwan11, and its stubborn refusal to offer unequivocal apologies12 to the Asian neighbouring countries over its aggressions, and American military alliance with Japan all have been