A worker welds a scaffolding in front of the headquarters of the Agricultural Bank of China JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

China Won’t Wait

China’s rise is both unambiguous and unstoppable, whether the West likes it or not. Refusing to acknowledge reality will only generate more tension – and more risk, because failing to accommodate China will destabilize the rules-based order on which the world has come to rely.

BEIJING – The global balance of power is shifting. As the United States retreats from global leadership, China is expanding its international influence. Now, many in the West fear a China-led attempt to overhaul the rules and norms that underpin the existing world order. Are they right to be afraid?

The reemergence of China as a major regional and even world power certainly poses profound challenges to the US-led international order that was created after World War II. But Chinese leaders’ goal is not explicitly to upend that order, which did, after all, prove flexible enough to enable the impoverished China of the 1970s to become what it is today. Instead, the goal is to ensure that the existing order can adequately accommodate the interests and objectives of both China and the US.

China’s objectives are ambitious, to say the least. Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “reform and opening up” enabled an economic miracle that has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. President Xi Jinping’s task is not only to complete what Deng started and eradicate poverty, but also to forge an economy that returns China to its position, held for most of recorded human history, as a major world power.

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