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The great debate on the meaning of China’s rise is coming to a close. Where academics once argued over whether the Asian power would be a status quo or systemic challenger, there is growing consensus that China intends to reshape the global system in its image.
From its criticism of the US alliance system in Asia, to its use of military coercion to claim a major global trading route as sovereign territory, to a growing intolerance of international and treaty law, to its majestic dreams of a new silk route tying central Asia and Eastern Europe to its economic system, China clearly intends systemic change. The possibility of a newly enriched China that incrementally liberalises and democratises has turned a corner irrevocably after the People’s National Congress rubber-stamped President Xi Jinping’s permanent tenure as leader.
We now know the answers to two of the great questions of the twenty-first century: will China become a democracy? And what will it do once it has risen?
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