There is a good discussion at today’s The New York Times about whether a new cold war between America and China is in the offing. China’s economy is growing very quickly, as is its military, but China is not as powerful as many alarmists seem to believe. China is surrounded by nations that are, by and large, not friendly to it, and are necessarily threatened by perceived aggressive or expansionist moves by their massive neighbor. We can’t ignore geography and the role that it plays in the geopolitical thinking of the world’s great powers.
The U.S. seeks to balance out China, in much the same way that Britain balanced out European powers on the Continent in the nineteenth century. The U.S. should not take this too far, however, because China’s actual power – what it can exert or project across the Asia-Pacific region – is more limited than a simple calculus of the numbers of soldiers, ships, airplanes, and tanks would suggest.
Everyone should take a deep breath and calm down.