La Montée « pacifique » de la Chine ?

Ces dernières semaines, la Chine a annoncé une augmentation de 12,6 % de son budget militaire : le directeur de la CIA, Porter Gross, a témoigné de l’aggravation du déséquilibre militaire dans le détroit de Taiwan et le président George W. Bush a plaidé auprès des Européens pour le maintien de l’embargo sur les ventes d’armes à la Chine. Pourtant, les dirigeants chinois évoquent la « montée pacifique » de la Chine et plus récemment son « développement pacifique ».

Certains analystes tels que John Mearsheimer de l’université de Chicago ont déclaré catégoriquement que la Chine ne peut pas s’élever pacifiquement, prédisant que « les États-Unis et la Chine s’engageront probablement dans une course intense à la sécurité avec une forte probabilité de conflit ». Les optimistes font remarquer que la Chine s’est lancée dans une politique de bon voisinage depuis les années 1990, apportant une solution aux conflits frontaliers, jouant un rôle plus important dans les institutions internationales et reconnaissant le bienfait de la manière douce. Les sceptiques répliqueront que la Chine attend simplement que son économie établisse les bases de son hégémonie future.

Qui a raison ? Nous ne le saurons pas avant un certain temps, mais les tenants du débat devraient garder en mémoire l’avertissement de Thucydide, vieux de 2000 ans, qui indique que croire au caractère inévitable d’un conflit peut devenir l’une de ses principales causes. Chaque côté, persuadé que cela se terminera en conflit armé avec le clan opposé, se lance dans des préparatifs militaires qui sont interprétés de l’autre côté comme la confirmation de ses pires craintes.

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