The Geography of Chinese Power

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria talks with Robert Kaplan, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a correspondent for The Atlantic, about his article in Foreign Affairs titled “The Geography of Chinese Power”.

Having read the article, my own sense is that Kaplan overemphasizes military might with his realist credo. Old balance-of-power thinking needs to be understood in the context of global economic integration. Yes, the Chinese do need to secure oil and gas, and various metals to keep the factories of the world churning, which raises Chinese living standards and legitimizes the ruling regime. However, China also needs foreign markets to sell its widgets, and foreign experts and technology to help them do so.

Kaplan doesn’t discuss how China’s financial power could be wielded to influence the actions of developing countries and even the United States, especially given Chinese holdings of U.S. government debt. Analysts like Kaplan need to incorporate financial power dynamics in their realist doctrines. For that, check out my last post on China’s financial might.

Still, I’d recommend reading Kaplan’s article or watching the video interview. Kaplan’s always entertaining.

Here’s a link to Kaplan’s new book, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power.