John Tkacik of The Heritage Foundation concludes that China's existing policies provide an unwelcome indicator for the future - and will soon be combined with a more formidable economic and military weight than America has yet faced. He calls for America to do more to build up an international consensus in opposition to a rising, authoritarian China:
"Managing China's rise requires a quiet, coherent, multi-dimensional, and disciplined strategy that must be coordinated with allies and friendly democracies. Crucial to achieving America's strategic policy goals is consensus among the world's democracies to "balance" China's rise. The key obstacle to consensus is China's sheer economic weight and its willingness to use that weight to punish its adversaries and reward its friends. Unless the United States is able to focus our own friends on the magnitude of the task at hand and lead them in addressing it, the world's democracies will ultimately acquiesce in the undemocratic and irredentist nature of Beijing's worldview.
"America has confronted assertive authoritarian dictatorships with absolute authority over large economies in the past. But, false perceptions of the Soviet economic strength aside, in the past century the United States has never had to deal with a competitor of such economic, industrial, political, and—soon—military weight.
"Some U.S. politicians hope to wish the problem away and "look to China" to do the right thing. President George W. Bush is "optimistic about China's future" because, he believes "young people who grow up with the freedom to trade goods will ultimately demand the freedom to trade ideas." A soothing thought, but history suggests that "freedom to trade goods" never, of itself, leads to democracy, which is why the Chinese Communist Party is comfortable with it."