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Is Pax Sinica Possible?

Summary:
Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to want to build a Pax Sinica, which would compete with – and even replace – the Pax Americana that has prevailed since the end of World War II. But realizing this vision will require China to overcome some daunting internal and external challenges. SEOUL – For nearly a decade, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been promising to deliver “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” This promise – which he dubbed the China Dream – took a clearer form with the introduction of the two centenary goals: building a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021 (the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China, CPC) and becoming a “modern socialist country” by 2049 (100 years

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Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to want to build a Pax Sinica, which would compete with – and even replace – the Pax Americana that has prevailed since the end of World War II. But realizing this vision will require China to overcome some daunting internal and external challenges.

SEOUL – For nearly a decade, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been promising to deliver “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” This promise – which he dubbed the China Dream – took a clearer form with the introduction of the two centenary goals: building a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021 (the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China, CPC) and becoming a “modern socialist country” by 2049 (100 years after the founding of the People’s Republic). Now, China is one centennial down – and, according to Xi, it has achieved its first goal. Is the China Dream within reach?

While the second centenary goal specifies goals like strength, prosperity, democracy, harmony, and cultural advancement, it also represents a vision of China as a global economic and political power. Ultimately, Xi seems to want to build a Pax Sinica, which would compete with – and even replace – the Pax Americana that has prevailed since the end of World War II.

These are ambitious goals. But China is no stranger to ambition – or achievement. While the CPC made serious mistakes during the People’s Republic’s early years, it has since led the country in a remarkable economic and social transformation. For more than three decades, China achieved double-digit annual GDP growth. Hundreds of millions of people were lifted out of poverty.

This transformation was made possible by “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” – a system that has proved far more effective and durable than many expected. The Chinese state played a central role in mobilizing resources, building national...

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