Former DOD director lectures on the rise of China

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Krista Shaw, Contributing Writer

 

A crowd of roughly 100 people gathered to attend the Alexander Hamilton Society’s lecture, “The Rise of China and its Impact on U.S. Hegemony,” on Wednesday, Feb 9.

Daniel Blumenthal, Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a specialist in East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations, delivered the lecture. Previously, he served as U.S. government advisor on Chinese issues and the Department of Defense’s senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia.

The lecture focused on shifts in the United States’ dynamics with China in light of China’s recent economic, military and geographical expansion.

Blumenthal began by explaining three perceptions of China. First, China can be seen in the way that the news and media often present it: a geo-politicized rising power that threatens the U.S. through cyber-attacks and a growing maritime presence. Second, the country can be viewed in terms of its increasing production and commercial success in international trade. Finally, China can be seen as an aging society, threatened by the fiscal strain of its own one-child policy and by its grave gender imbalance. Blumenthal emphasized the interdependence of the U.S. and China and the important role it plays in preserving China as a peaceable world power. Though he downplayed the threat of Chinese aggression, Blumenthal did suggest that the U.S. should focus on maintaining a positive balance of power.

Daniel Blumenthal -Photo by Paul Fiesel
Daniel Blumenthal
-Photo by Paul Fiesel

Responding to Blumenthal’s lecture, Dr. Bryan Cupp, affiliate professor of history, spoke of the effect China’s history has had upon its present foreign policy.

Cupp spoke of the narrow, Sino-centric culture of China reflected in the country’s early trade policies. These policies required foreign traders to pay tribute to the Chinese emperor in a show of respect and subservience. Cupp explored China’s current role as a peaceful trader in the globalized, modern world and contrasted it with the country’s continued attempts to spread its power through cultural, economic and military expansion.

After the lecture and response, Blumenthal opened the floor for questions. The subsequent discussion revealed attendees’ engagement in the subject at hand as well as an overall curiosity as to how the U.S. would respond to Chinese expansion. Questions addressed issues from China’s threats to Taiwan and Japan to the possible future effects of China’s one-child policy.

“During the China event, I found the question-and-answer session the most informative and interesting aspect of the talk,” said the president of AHS, junior Benjamin Gibbs. “I found the audience’s questions to be extremely insightful, and they allowed Dan Blumenthal to expand and clarify certain points.”

Junior Will Chavey, vice president of AHS, found Blumenthal’s lecture especially enlightening.

“If Blumenthal was correct in arguing that we tend to overestimate China’s true abilities, we need to reevaluate our stances on many contemporary issues,” he said. “We frequently start debates regarding China with the assumption that China is a global power; perhaps we need to begin at a bit more elementary of a level.”

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