Will China's military rise shift the global balance of power?

Here is a sampling of responses by readers to the Nov. 17 and 18 articles, "Chinese build a high-tech army within an army" and "US more cautious than wary as China's reach grows":

It is totally unreasonable to expect any country to live under someone else's gun if they can avoid doing so. No country with the wealth and technological capability to arm itself would ever refrain from doing so. China is no exception. The point is how to avoid nations going to war. That requires statesmanship.

In the case of Taiwan, the US should draw a line between protecting Taiwan's democracy and promoting its independence. The US should protect Taiwan militarily against unprovoked attack and also reject its independence movement diplomatically. Taipei's moves toward independence should be firmly, but peaceably, rebuffed. This would significantly lower tensions.
Wai L. Chui, Dallas

Where would we be without China? If China had not accelerated its economic reforms in the 1990s, then many more US companies wouldn't have survived. In the US, people moan about Chinese imports, but all want a piece of the Chinese market.

China isn't interested in growth by war. China, unlike the West, has always looked toward long-term plans and stability, even if there is a short-term price to pay. Why on earth would China jeopardize its economic growth by attacking anyone with its increased military capability?

The Taiwan issue is a no-brainer. Taiwan is strongly economically tied to China, so military provocation from either side is improbable.

As for the US, it can't fight history. The country can't remain the sole superpower forever. America has squandered much of its political capital in the past decade, as its frequent military interventions around the world have not been appreciated. And the Iraq war is the straw that broke America's back as far as favorable world opinion is concerned.
Alexis P. Gerratt, Brussels

China's modernizing and expanding military could be used both positively and negatively. China could just be constructing a great-power military that is primarily used for defense.

This move could be comparable to similar actions of the US and the Soviet Union because both expanded their militaries significantly during the cold war, but neither one ever came into conflict with the other.

Positive activities of China's military could include participation in UN-backed peacekeeping missions. A negative activity of the military is of course aggression.

It is no secret that many believe there is an imminent military threat posed by a growing China. China could decide to carry out aggression against its neighbors if it feels its security and sovereignty are being threatened. But would China actually make its military an instrument to be used negatively at the expense of its booming economy? A rational actor would say no.

Then again, China is a Communist nation with deep interests in its own sovereignty and security.

China will likely pursue any course of action necessary to fulfill its foreign policy objectives - and if the objective is to protect its sovereignty and security,

Chinese military aggression is not unthinkable.
Peter Fanning, Denver

The information in this series makes the US open-trade policy with Red China more dangerous than ever. Wal-Mart and other US retailers who peddle Chinese-made goods should be heavily taxed to force a change in their cheap labor policies. I believe the profits the Chinese make from these sales go to the People's Liberation Army, which will eventually be used to attack Taiwan. Is this possibility worth the lower prices we pay?
Lowell McKown, Amarillo, Texas

I feel a lot safer with China as an additional superpower to curb US aggression. When you compare the record of both countries, the Chinese are much less likely to start wars and intrude on the affairs of other countries.

I believe China's rising influence in South America and the Caribbean is helping to bring about real, positive change in an area of the world that has been politically and economically ailing under US influence for decades.
Ken Moreau, New Orleans

It will be very easy for the US to see China as the next big threat - similar to the Soviet Union in the cold war. What remains to be seen is whether China actually is a threat to US interests.

True, the country is building up its military incredibly fast, with an eye toward Taiwan. But historically China's foreign policy has been distinctly regional, even at the height of the country's power.

A military conflict between the US and China, then, would be unlikely, as long as the two states don't find themselves on opposite sides over Taiwan. And as China gains even more strength, we in the US will be asking ourselves if defending Taiwan is worth a war.

Regardless of the Taiwan issue, we should be asking whether it is wise to assume the worst - that China will be our enemy - just because it has the potential to match our power in the future. It is very possible that making such an assumption will do nothing more than to make the worst come to pass.
Nicholas Roscoe, Boston

China's growing military power is only one aspect of the country's expanding influence. Another Nov. 18 article posted on csmonitor.com, "Arab opinions of US: good news and bad news," quotes a Zogby International poll showing that populations in the Middle East have an increasingly positive opinion of China. This shift in thought did not happen in a vacuum.

China's political, economic, and military expansion will continue, and more countries will begin to see China as a global force.

I don't foresee a military confrontation between China and other consequential countries, but I certainly see a day when today's major players are eclipsed by an ever more powerful China.
Daniel Miori, Buffalo, N.Y.

As the US Administration noted a few months ago, the buildup of Chinese military power seems superfluous to its actual defense needs. Only if the Chinese regime deems a need to use this power for nefarious purposes would such a buildup be necessary.

Long-term Chinese political ambitions - such as reasserting control over Taiwan - and increasing military capability will soon be congruent, making the attainment of those ambitions possible. Not only will China become a major world player, it will also become a major threat.
Perry Jones Tempe, Ariz.

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