The Chinese are talking about how they used to approach the world in the dynastic era, says Mr. Hill. “‘[We] know that states are not equal and therefore we need a world order in which that reality is recognized.’ This meme is getting around in China and is what accounts for statements starting two years ago as regards the South China Sea to Vietnam or the Philippines saying openly ‘We are a big power and you’re not a big power and therefore you should follow what we say.'”
In short, “the European vision is we’re just going to be nice” and “people will follow our lead. The Chinese view is why should we not do what we want to do with these little people who used to pay us tribute?”
I think the problem is that China is going to lose control back home.
If I am not mistaken, in the era of dynasties, China was held together “back home” by warlords. As soon as the military expands itself on the scale of an empire, “back home” is going to be held together by some very strong individuals, as we have already observed.
In other words, for now, China’s military is mainly used to control its people internally, and how much control is forced upon the people back home depends on what the goals of empire are. When the military wants to act on Japan, Vietnam or the Philippines it uses the people “back home” to create the force needed to expand outward.
However, once that internal control is gone, because the military is needed elsewhere, and the empire forms externally, another structure will form internally to takes its place. The military will go where the money is, and the “money” is in the resources available to the empire.
I think the internal structure that will form in China will either be through warlords or democracy. If the warlords come into power China will become a second-rate power like Russia–if democracy spreads, China will become a global power.
For now, the military takes it command from the center, and as it expands out, it needs that center force, of today’s government, to control the internal resources needed for expansion.
However, it will come to a point, that the centralized government of China can either introduce democracy, to control the internal competing forces, like in the U.S.A, or, once again, let the warlords reign.
Like capitalism, perhaps China will find its own form of democracy, otherwise it will never become the number one economy of the world.