The author asserts that China has emerged as a crucial global player especially in terms of economic development. However, its magnitude of influence can hardly allow it to be a super power. The writer is also quite categorical that the type of power portrayed by China is only partial and may not impact the entire world. In spite of the fact that Shambaugh attempts to downplay the power of China in controlling world affairs, it is crucial to mention that notable global influence can hardly be attained in the absence of viable economic drivers. As it stands now, China is developing at a very high rate. As a matter of fact, the country is attaining global influence at a better pace than the United States or some of the European countries. In addition, the current political stability being experienced in China is a major growth factor that might as well propel the nation into the top list of global super powers. It is interesting to mention that the dynamic position of China is a key ingredient in global dominance. Therefore, it should not be ignored at all. It can also be recalled that the United States emerged as a superpower after it had reached a viable economic performance level. Needless to say, the awakening nature of China offers a vivid indication that its strength in the world arena might soon surpass those of the leading nations. When China opted to go global, it marked a very important beginning for a long path of succeeding the current powerful states. We ought to comprehend a number of implications, complexities, and dimensions that are worth to consider for a nation like China to become a super power.
Shambaugh explores the questions … “is China really shaking the world? … or is China’s assumed international influence hollow hype?” (x). Sober elucidation can only be brought about by the tools of international relations theory. How can the global influence of China be an empty one when the developed nations are candidly worried over its rapid progress? Perhaps, the best response should be that China is a major threat to long term major powers. The global involvement of China especially in regards to economic growth is one of the salient dimensions that apparently amaze the world. To some extent, Shambaugh seems to suggest that China’s state of diplomacy is not a beneficial factor that can assist it to transform into a superpower. At this point, it is vital to underscore the fact that emerging as a superpower does not require unrealistic diplomacy. In other words, the authentic state of global influence can only be attained through diplomacy. It is not possible to relate top global influence with dictatorial trends. The diplomatic nature of China that the writer seems to underrate is a remarkable contributing factor in global governance even among states that have succeeded to dominate regional political blocks or economic powerhouses.
The cultural impact of China is also a major source of strength that has significantly been part and parcel of the country’s diplomatic nature. Besides, diplomacy and national security are closely related to each other because none of them can flourish without the other. Is it really possible to accelerate economic and political stabilities without the input of security? There is a lot of substance in the theory of China emerging as a major threat to other global powers.
We ought to concur with the fact that the country is an economic powerhouse across the world. To a large extent, influence and power cannot be separated. The book also concurs with this assertion even though the author fails to align economic power with global superiority. The international norm articulates that political might is superior to economic or social power. Shambaugh insinuates similar perspectives or lines of thinking. Currently, we can agree that China has not fully created a lasting impact all the major areas of development. Nonetheless, the progress is quite promising bearing in mind that most of the milestones in economic and political development have been achieved. China does not have an equal influence like that of the United States although this should not be the main issue. If China is given adequate time to establish itself in major global domains, there is no doubt that the nation might soon catch up with the well established global players. There are vital indicators that cannot be ignored when exploring the rise of China as a key economic powerhouse. For instance, its population is large enough to propel economic growth due to a large pool of both skilled and unskilled labor. Besides, the current space program embraced by China is a vivid indication that the nation is keen to dominate or capture global governance. China is also in the process of striving to manufacture armories as part of its own defense mechanism and also establishing a global position as a notable manufacturer of lethal weapons that can be procured by other nations.
The economic prowess of China is evidently the main theme developed throughout the book. One of the remarkable economic strengths of China can be seen in its banking sector. For example, the top four global banks are found in the republic of China. In spite of the alleged questionable statistics elaborated by Shambaugh, China’s capitalization is above the board. Shambaugh argues that there is limited information in regards to the structural quality of the Chinese economy. Nevertheless, impressive statistics are available as posited by the author. Even if the purported fragile foundation of the Chinese economy might be in place, its impressive growth is definitely sustainable. However, the book seems to doubt this reality. Another position taken by Shambaugh is that most of the exports that China boasts of are largely low-end consumer goods. The writer of the book also observes that China is yet to penetrate the high-end consumer market as much as it stipulated the latter as one of its core goals since the last ten years. Worse still, China is anticipated to make some positive progress in developing its semi-conductor industry. The author mentions that most of the microchips required by China in the development of its semi-conductor industry are imported. Therefore, its assemblies heavily rely on imports from other countries. As much as this might be the case, it is important to mention that importation of raw materials is a healthy practice even among the superpowers. How can an economically-viable nation establish itself without relying on vital imports from other countries? The only instance when imports can be unhealthy towards the economic growth of a nation is when the balances of payment and trade are not favorable. Alternatively, exports are supposed to exceed imports at any given trade transaction.
Shambaugh is also emphatic that the best chip factories in China still lag behind compared to other competitors who dominate the global arena. If the latter is anything to go by, why is it that China continues to dominate as a leading exporter of finished goods? Most of the emerging markets are greatly benefiting from bilateral relationship with China. This explains why the overall trade volume of China often surpasses those of the well established economies such as the United States and United Kingdom. The third generation microchip industries pointed out by the author supply the third world markets. Such markets can rapidly propel the growth of a rising nation like China. It is unfortunate for the author to mention that most graduates from China are useless. While the current spate of production in China relies on experienced professionals, fresh Chinese graduates have equally contributed towards the growth and development of the economy. Emerging markets in Africa and Latin America have a high demand for low-end consumer products manufactured by the less-experienced graduates from China. As a matter of fact, young markets located in the developing and underdeveloped economies can hardly afford high quality and expensive products. Unless China supplies such markets, it can be pretty difficult for the emerging markets to access or afford some of the basic commodities like mobile phones, television sets, clothe materials among others.
Shambaugh also explores the aspect of energy as part of the growth agenda for any growing economy. He claims that the energy needs for China is beyond sustainable level because it is the largest consumer of energy among the developed economies. The author also emphasizes that the global energy growth is not compatible with the energy requirements of China as a single consumer. Nonetheless, the vast energy consumption by China is indeed commensurate with its growth agenda. It may not be possible for China to utilize such a large amount of energy without propelling economic growth. According to Shambaugh, China accounted for ‘nearly half of the world’s growth in energy consumption over the previous decade’ (162). In the latter case, it is pertinent to point out that the large Chinese population also demands a proportional amount of energy.
The security interests of a nation are also tagged in its energy needs. China enjoys strong economic imperatives that also shape its security concerns. If China is to stand out as an independent global powerhouse, then it must re-strategize its foreign security. Fortunately, China utilizes sea travel to transport its oil and gas imports. This has proven to be quite cost effective as much as the country might require to develop a robust naval doctrine in order to foster adequate control of waterways while transporting its products.
To recap it all, it can be concluded that the fast pace at which China is experiencing growth is a real threat to notable super powers such as the Unite States and United Kingdom. Whereas Shambaugh largely refutes the possibility of China becoming a superpower, it is indeed pertinent to underscore the fact that its large population and diverse economic activities are vivid pointers that the country is within the right path towards attaining the broad agenda of a superpower.