After Hu Jintao's visit to the United States, I had a few friends ask me what I thought about the visit. After all, one of my majors in my undergraduate studies was East Asian Studies, with emphasis on China. In short, I don't think our relations with China have really changed. The only accomplishment of this visit is to clearly outline for the American people the realities of China's aggrandizement that has been going on for years.
China's GDP expanded nearly 10% this past quarter, which reflects an overall strong economic growth since the Open Door Policy between Nixon and Mao. Their economic prowess is only going to continue, thereby increasing their chances of not just being a regional hegemon, but a global one.
Although I can write at book's length regarding this topic, it sufficeth to say that American foreign policy with China will have to be a combination of mutual agreement via economic interdependence and making sure that America still has their cojones when dealing with such issues as human rights, China violating UN sanctions against Iran, and that little stunt that the Chinese fishing boat pulled off last autumn. This balance is all the more delicate when one realizes that the Chinese armed forces continue to build themselves up, much like they have over the years.
I'm sure that with military and economic growth in consideration, some of you are looking for a prediction from me on "What's it going to be like between the United States and China in five or ten years?" However, I'm not going to give you one. Why? Because if my professors taught me anything about China watching, it's that it is highly unpredictable and China watchers, also known as Pekingologists, in the past have had a terrible time accurately predicting what would happen with China. China, after all, is a nation-state of almost 1.5 billion people. Its lack of infrastructure, its societal disparities, its disregard from human rights, its One Child Policy, and its incapability to respond to environmental issues, amongst a myriad of problems that plauge China, make Beijing's reactions to its domestic [and foreign] policies all the more erratic. Whether China becomes the next world power or ends up imploding, there is one thing I can say with certainty, and that is that at least for the next decade, if not longer, China will be a major influence in the dictates of American foreign policy. As for how Washington responds to the emergence of Beijing, well, that will be the intrigue of China watchers everywhere.