NEW DELHI – Success breeds confidence, and rapid success produces arrogance. That, in a nutshell, is the problem that both Asia and the West face in China, and which has been demonstrated once again at the G20 summit in Canada.
Rising economic and military power is emboldening China’s government to pursue a more muscular foreign policy. Having earlier preached the gospel of its “peaceful rise,” China is now beginning to take the gloves off, convinced that it has acquired the necessary muscle.
That approach became more marked with the global financial crisis that began in the fall of 2008. China interpreted that crisis as symbolizing both the decline of the Anglo-American brand of capitalism and the weakening of American economic power. That, in turn, strengthened its two-fold belief – that its brand of state-steered capitalism offers a credible alternative, and that its global ascendance is inevitable.
Chinese analysts gleefully point out that, after having sung the “liberalize, privatize, and let the markets decide” song for so long, the United States and Britain took the lead in bailing out their financial giants at the first sign of trouble. By contrast, state-driven capitalism has given China economic stability and rapid growth, allowing it to ride out the global crisis.