This news caught me as no surprise. I believed for a while that this century will be China's century. Now before you accuse me of being a conspiracy nut, please hear me out. I am a rational being, at least that's what my court appointed therapist states.
There's no question the Britons ruled the 19th century as the 20th century was 100 years of American dominance. Now a new kid on the block is emerging. China has been resourceful and patient in their climb for the status of the world's greatest superpower.
China has already amassed a nuclear program that can devastate our navy. Most military analysts, of which I'm not one of them, believe that our strength resides in 12 aircraft carriers. The Chinese have already crafted a nuclear program that can launch and drive their missiles so close to the surface that we will not be able to detect them until they hit their intended targets. Given the sophistication of this technology it would not be surprising if they have more devastating weapons in order. Yes, a new Cold War may happen.
The Chinese have grown increasingly stubborn in their foreign policy, yet seem to get a free pass from the UN in every instance. Case in point: Tibet. Groups such as Amnesty International have blasted Beijing for carrying out numerous human rights abuses and possible war crimes in the region. Considering this has been going on since 1949 and everyone's turned a blind eye to the madness no nation(s) will call China on this anytime soon.
There are other issues with their foreign policy as well, such as the stances they've taken with Taiwan and support for Kim Jong-Il's radical regime, but again their feet are not being held to the fire. In my most humble opinion trade is the main issue. Since the British lease ended in the 90s the Chinese have all but banished their Maoist economic policies and have embraced the system that made Hong Kong one of the leading economic centers in the world.
This newfound wealth has also been nurtured by American corporate culture. Many companies, including the "patriotic" Wal-Mart, have slowly moved not only manufacturing plants to the region, but also call centers, various retail and wholesale outlets, warehousing, etc. The corporation's shareholders are making a fortune, but of course the American consumer won't see the savings. China, of course, is seeing many benefits by putting children to work in those dingy sweatshops where your Old Navy shirt was made.
Now that China will be escalating their space program it should be obvious to all how much effort they have put into education, particularly the sciences. This is something our country has been putting on the back burner for years and soon we will reap what we sow.
Will China and America go to war one day? Probably not considering the trade our countries are involved in. The old saying "free trade ends wars" may be true in this case, but then again we didn't have that economic union with Russia and we never engaged each other, at least directly.
I'm getting a little on my high horse here considering I'm just an armchair historian/world politics analyst. I'll stop offending you with my uneducated rants.
"War [with the United States] is inevitable; we cannot avoid it. The issue is that the Chinese armed forces must control the initiative in this war. We must be prepared to fight for one year, two years, or even longer." - Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chi Haotian
China plans unmanned moon mission by 2007