For a brief period, China seemed to be defeating the tragic tendency towards turbulence that occurs whenever a great power stands up. Whereas the rest of the world managed to suppress the costs of adjusting to the power shift and prioritized other security issues, Chinese leaders shunned confrontation. China’s peaceful development is now in peril. This is not because China harbours revisionist intentions. Yet, its growth inevitably challenges the security of others leading them to balance their security policies more forcefully. As China considers itself still a very fragile country, it will find these moves malicious, resist compromise, and albeit reluctantly, seek ways to counterbalance.
Jonathan Holslag, Researcher Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies.