With the rise of America in the 1960s, the military power and economic strength of the United States was labeled as “Pax Americana” – signifying the American peace order. Conversely, Chinese averse to be tagging themselves with heavy titles explaining their political, military or economic strength. “Pax Sinica” has never been used. Chinese scholars also avoided the terminology. Probably they did not want to terrify the world and they might have learned from the experience of Pax Americana.
Trump’s inward attempt created a vacuum for the Asia-Pacific powers overwhelmingly dominated by China to capture the opportunity. America is tightening up its exclusiveness, while China has been going through inclusiveness, going more global, and integrating regionally. This contrast is defining and outlining the American and Chinese approaches in the Asia-Pacific.
Japanese perceived order was in peril – Pax Nipponica lasted too short and quickly replaced by Pax Sinica, addressing the loopholes of both Pax Americana and Pax Nipponica. The ten-ASEAN nations also could not seize the opportunity vacated by Pax Nipponica despite their ascendancy to a great multilateral economic empire. China has been threading carefully, making more noise for America and Japan and also for other Asia-Pacific countries such as ASEAN, South Korea and India
China has gone global. It is opening up. Its economy is globally integrating the nations. Its plans are inclusive - going beyond narrow inward-looking strategies. It is adopting multiculturalism and changing home rules gradually as its multinational companies are doing international business in all most every country. In 2014, out of 500 largest global multinational companies, 95 were Chinese with a combined capital of US$ 5.8 trillion. Out of ten largest public enterprises, five were Chinese state-led enterprises including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
The present Pax Sinica also differed from China’s historical ascendency. The resurgence of the Silk Road ascendancy of President Xi Jinping contrasts with China’s ancient past. It is not supposedly identified with a single country unlike Pax Americana and Pax Nipponica, signifying a particular nation’s strength. Chinese are not creating a dividing-line between themselves and the rest of the Asians. Pax Sinica also means -Asian century. They are combining for a win-win for all. Pax Sinica is also not Chinese supremacy. It is an Asian supremacy and ascendancy.
The emerging “Sino centrism” is also combined with “Asianism” for which Japanese were washout miserably during World Wars I and II as the purpose was subjugation and not “Asian Oneness”. Chinese are great statecrafts. They would not repeat their own imperial past, neither the footprints of the Japanese, nor the imperialist maneuverings of the Americans.
Chinese would even learn from the corporate eclipse of Japanese companies and the bubble burst economy, and would prefer to share the profit among nations through trillion of dollars investment in infrastructure under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The process is only started when China just made half progress of US$ 11 trillion.
The contrast between Pax Nipponica and Pax Sinica is quite revealing. Japan remained isolated for six years (1945-1951), whereas China remained isolated for twenty-one years (1949-1971). Japan returned to “full correction” as prescribed by the United States. China chose its own course of action along with challenges and risks. It did change its economic course but strictly adhered to its political socialism.
Pax Nipponica as a challenger to Pax Americana faded away by the late 1980s because of the bubble-based economy syndrome. Pax Nipponica also became inevitable as there was no competition in Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. The West sympathetically tolerated Japan as a victim nation and let them to recover from their wounds. Pax Sinica, however, came out of severe competition offered by East Asian miraculous economies as well as the West.
The foundation-stone of the Chinese economy is not bubble-based. Rather it is asolid. The intellectual discourse of Pax Sinica is even greater than Pax Nipponica. China has very large and an ancient intellectual base such as Confucianism and Taoism. Japan, Korea, and all East Asian countries cannot deny such an intellectual ascendency of Chinese intellectualism and cultural traditions, which they also adopted on their lands. China appears to be teacher for mostof East Asian nations. The influence goes even beyond. Pax Nipponica and Pax Americana do not have that surplus and premium of civilization, which Pax Sinica enjoys from ancient times.
Thus, China is not creating a new ecstasy but combining the old order and its ancient traditions with new innovations and technologies given in a free market-based economy. The Sinocentric trade and treaties system has been evolving once again in the broader framework of the BRI. The Sinocentric order is thus unavoidable, certain, and inescapable in the 21st century.