China: State Multinational or Global Superpower?

America fights, in other words, while China does business, and not only in Afghanistan. In Iraq, where U.S. troops brought down a dictator and are still fighting an insurgency, Chinese oil companies have acquired bigger stakes in the oil business than their American counterparts. In Pakistan, where billions in U.S. military aid helps the government keep the Taliban at bay, China has set up a free-trade area and is investing heavily in energy and ports.

via China succeeds by behaving more like a multinational company than a global superpower.
nne Applebaum
September 27, 2010

This was a clever observation when Anne Applebaum first made it five years ago, and there is still some validity to it. Nonetheless, one cannot help but wonder if things will stay this way much longer. China’s military posture overseas continues to rise, and its companies are beginning to discover that the easy fruit has fallen. We may well have witnessed either the high point of China’s overseas expansion, or, more likely, the end of China’s purely commercial overseas expansion strategy.



I really wish people would stop referring to China as a “superpower”. It doesn’t mean the world’s current #1 and #2. The term implies global reach, and China has little or no influence outside its own backyard. Compare to Italy.

Heck, even in its own back yard, China can’t assert its will unopposed. There are all these other pesky nations who think they own China’s back yard, too. Imagine Chinese aircraft carriers in the strait between Cuba and Florida and you get the idea of what this looks like in reverse.

China has no global reach, plain and simple. The String of Pearls strategy, a modest power projection at best, simply didn’t work out for them. Wasn’t China supposed to have a naval base in Sri Lanka by now? China’s not a superpower.