The Rachman’s strategy, here, is to shift from the standard hysterical tropes about China, to jejune speculation and conjecture as in:
Does China want to be a superpower?
Mr. Rachman invites the reduction to anthropomorphism, that renders ‘China’ into a being with a free will, the power to think and act, as that single being. To engage in kind to Mr. Rachman’s rhetoric.
To think as Xi Jinping and his fellows, might think seems to be the pressing question? Not what Rush Doshi, Gideon Rachman, Rudyard Kipling, Evan Medeiros, or any of the actors that Mr. Rachman presents, as the definers of what a Super Power must be, might be. Mr. Rachman tells the reader just that:
Becoming a superpower is a complicated business. It poses a series of connected questions about capabilities, intentions and will.
The history of China, in the preceding centuries, ought to offer vivid object lessons, to an expert like Mr. Rachman! if he weren’t so anxious to, like his fellow experts mentioned above, to parade that commodity to his readership?
Superpower status is a source of national pride and brings significant economic and political benefits. But it also involves costs, risks and burdens.
Yet Xi Jinping and his fellows will go their own way. The Western colonial experience of the Chinese, in all its iterations gets no mention, in Mr. Rachman’s essay. Too inconvenient an impediment to Western Expertise about China: not a consideration that Mr. Rachman might even entertain, nor the technocrats he refers to in his essay. Read this as the arrogance of the Western World View, although, at times, Mr. Rachman appears to be in the vicinity of an approach, or to something akin to it? This may be magical thinking on my part?
If China is unwilling or unable to achieve a global military presence that rivals that of the US, it may have to find a new way of being a superpower — or give up on the ambition.
The reader need only look to the recent essay by Niall Ferguson in the TLS of July 2, 2021, not for a ‘review’ of books about China, but a Neo-Con’s view of more Western Chinese Technocrat’s speculations, prognostications: Lippman’s misplaced faith in experts realized!
Headline: Most threatening when weak?
Sub-headline: The risks China poses to global security