SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute Debate provides a wide spectrum of views on China’s “peaceful rise”

20 May 2019

The 2019 China Debate on 7 May addressed the question of whether China’s rise will be peaceful or not from a wide spectrum of views, but none of the panellists started off assuming it was China’s intention to rise in a non-peaceful way. All the panellists were clear that the question at hand cannot be answered simply by looking at the intention and policy of the Chinese Government. Indeed, action and reaction are equal and opposite. How China engages with the rest of the world and how others, particularly the USA, engage with China will have a significant impact on each other and whether China’s rise will be peaceful or not. 

Will China's rise be peaceful

Professor Feng Zhu (Nanjing University) kicked off by explaining his belief that it will be peaceful as it is not China’s intention to do otherwise and it is in any event not in a position to challenge US might. Professor Evan S. Medeiros (Georgetown University) responded highlighting that China’s rise is already increasing tension and raising problems in a range of policy matters, Professor Katherine Morton (University of Sheffield) underlined the importance not only of the intention of Beijing but how such intention is perceived in other countries. Action speaks louder than words. Professor David M. Lampton (Johns Hopkins-SAIS and Stanford University) looked at the issue in a constructive spirit and emphasized that to reassure the USA and much of the rest of the world there are plenty more that Beijing could and would need to do to achieve such an objective.  The panellists and others then engaged in a spirited, engaging and well-mannered debate, which can be seen in full here