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The New York Times, Op-Ed Contributor
By YAN XUETONG
Published: November 20, 2011
It was perhaps the greatest period for Chinese thought, and several schools competed for ideological supremacy and political influence. They converged on one crucial insight: The key to international influence was political power, and the central attribute of political power was morally informed leadership. Rulers who acted in accordance with moral norms whenever possible tended to win the race for leadership over the long term.
- Times Topic: International Relations
WITH China’s growing influence over the global economy, and its increasing ability to project military power, competition between the United States and China is inevitable. Leaders of both countries assert optimistically that the competition can be managed without clashes that threaten the global order.
Most academic analysts are not so sanguine. If history is any guide, China’s rise does indeed pose a challenge to America. Rising powers seek to gain more authority in the global system, and declining powers rarely go down without a fight. And given the differences between the Chinese and American political systems, pessimists might believe that there is an even higher likelihood of war.
I am a political realist. Western analysts have labeled my political views “hawkish,” and the truth is that I have never overvalued the importance of morality in international relations. But realism does not mean that politicians should be concerned only with military and economic might. In fact, morality can play a key role in shaping international competition between political powers — and separating the winners from the losers.
Three Events Tell a Tale of Two Indias
David J. Karl (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy and project director of the Bi-national Task Force on Enhancing India-U.S. Cooperation in the Global Innovation Economy.
The new Global Trends 2025 report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council highlighted the ascent of China and India as part of a fundamental global power shift that will play out in the coming decades. A series of events occurring within a week of one another in October sharply illustrated India’s potential for great-power status as well as the distance the country still has to travel to fulfill its global ambitions. The events also threw light on the U.S. strategy, so evident during the Bush administration, of building up New Delhi’s capabilities to serve as a geopolitical hedge against Beijing.
The first event, the successful launch of India’s first unmanned lunar mission, literally signified the country’s upward technological trajectory. Designed to create a sophisticated atlas of the Moon’s mineral resources, the mission propelled India into the very exclusive fraternity of space-faring countries. Both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the European Space Agency approached India to collaborate on the mission, granting New Delhi an important seal of foreign validation. To Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the launch “demonstrated the nation’s growing technological potential.” From the perspective of Barack Obama and the editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal, the mission was a wakeup call that the U.S. was in danger of losing its scientific edge. The newspaper even went so far as to fret that India may be “going to the moon just as the U.S. is headed into the sunset.”
Coming in the wake of the country’s successful delivery of 10 satellites into orbit on a single rocket in April 2008, the lunar mission underscored India’s emergence as a major competitor in the lucrative satellite-launch market and satellite manufacturing industry. On the heels of the lunar mission, the Indian Space Research Organization, which operates the world’s second largest fleet of remote sensing satellites (behind the United States), announced the launch of an online satellite imagery service. Dubbed Bhuvan (Sanskrit for Earth), the project will reportedly provide much sharper and fresher satellite images than offered by Google Earth.