Don't underestimate China's ambition

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in a photo taken in November 2017.
US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in a photo taken in November 2017.PHOTO: AFP

As an established academic and a seasoned diplomat, Mr Kishore Mahbubani's views on China's ambition reflect an expectation that the country will be a benign superpower. In his recent article, he appears to be simply describing China's inevitable rise without bringing up any caveats on what could possibly go wrong (How the US and China can avoid war; Jan 27).

China's disregard of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention in the South China Sea and its unilateral action in setting up an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea are already wake-up calls to all countries of what is likely to happen if China were to become a superpower.

The day may come when China uses its military power to coerce smaller countries to succumb to its wishes, and it does not take much to imagine that countries in Asia may eventually become China's vassal states.

Let us all hope that when China becomes the world's No. 1 superpower, it will also be a benign hegemony.

Roy Goh Hin Soon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'Don't underestimate China's ambition'. Print Edition | Subscribe