China's expansion will bring new dimension

China pushes outwards into the world, we must grapple with the influence that it will bring to our shores.
China pushes outwards into the world, we must grapple with the influence that it will bring to our shores.PHOTO: AFP

Two recent articles (The US-China Cold Peace and Singapore's cultural DNA, Feb 4; and How the US and China can avoid war, Jan 27) portrayed China's rise as peaceful, with the idea that it traditionally has never been a hegemony and, thus, we should not be too concerned about its rise.

But circumstances are starkly different now. As China's economic development gains importance, it will need a huge amount of resources beyond its own shores to fuel its growth. It is vital the sea lanes and air routes to these resources from around the world are secured.

To become the world's largest economy by 2025, this need becomes imperative and urgent. It will be naive to think that the Belt and Road Initiative serves only those countries on that route.

We must also bear in mind that embracing a market economy does not make China more like us.

Freedom, rule of law, equality and democracy as we understand them here take a different hue in China.

Thus, as China pushes outwards into the world, we must grapple with the influence that it will bring to our shores. Its sheer size and tenacity to rejuvenate its tribe make it a formidable force. Whether it will be a benign hegemony, only time will tell but what is certain is that it will be a different world for you and I.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2019, with the headline 'China's expansion will bring new dimension'. Print Edition | Subscribe