China couldn’t dominate Asia if it wanted to

According to an article posted in ForeignPolicy, it should be taken into account that Asia is not only China, there are other major players, since “Asia has been multi polar for almost all of recorded history”.

The main ideas here:

  • The more the Belt and Road Initiative becomes a multilateral exercise, the more it connects not just Asian countries to China but also all Asians to each other. From Russia and Turkey to Iran and Iran to Myanmar and Thailand, the resurrection of multidirectional Silk Roads with no dominant power symbolizes the return of Asia’s past, one characterized by deference, not dominance. Asia has nearly 5 bill

    ion people, about 3.5 billion of whom are not Chinese. Asians aspire to live in an Asian world order, not a Chinese one. The Belt and Road Initiative will thus not play out like a Chinese steamroller flattening its way across Eurasia. Rather, it will resemble a tug-of-war over lucrative infrastructure projects and trade routes. Tug-of-war is an arduous contest, featuring many heaves and hos, backs and forths. Like Asian history itself, it is an interminable “great game” full of shifts in momentum and requiring great patience. The very reason the great game continues to this day is that Asia is ultimately too big a field for any single power to control.

  • Rather than seeking far-reaching conquest, Asians’ attitude has generally been to live and let live. Over centuries of Silk Road interaction, commerce and cultural exchange are far more the norm than conquest. Even the Mongols ruled by way of adopting local religions and languages. A proper appraisal of Asian geography and history thus reminds us that Asia is not a set of dominoes that will fall before an expansionist China. China may be as nationalistic as ever, but the Chinese are not the new Mongols.
  • Importantly, consistent with Asian history, China alone does not determine the outcome as much as the rest of Asia’s powers, which have thus far been neglected in geopolitical conversations.
  • However, commentators who portray China as having a thousand-year vision and presume an unwavering path to its achievement both overstate China’s wisdom and underestimate that of its neighbors, who have thousands of years of historical engagement with China. China today seems an unstoppable force—but Asia is full of immovable objects in the form of civilizational states such as Russia, Iran, and India, whose ancient histories allow them to stand up to China whenever it suits their interest to do so.
  • Furthermore, today’s world is neither unipolar nor bipolar but a geopolitical marketplace of powers competing to provide services to potential allies and partners. China is therefore not the only option—especially after the first phase of Belt and Road investments. Some credit is due to China for catalyzing a worldwide recognition of the importance of infrastructure finance, particularly in a post-financial crisis world in which some Western leaders wrongly preached austerity rather than stimulus. Furthermore, there is no question that greater trade with and investment from China has contributed to Pakistan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, and other former basket case economies now delivering among the world’s fastest growth rates.