China is making a splash in the news and the situation makes one wonder what exactly is going on. By order of mere sizeability, any analysis is prone to sweeping generalisations and is plagued by buzzwords. That China is the new “superpower.” That China is becoming “capitalist.” That China is taking over the world. To start off, the US has charged five Chinese Officers with cyber espionage. Allegedly, they hacked into five private-sector American companies and a trade union to steal trade secrets and internal documents. China has denied the charges. Secondly, four decades since their most high-profile maritime clash, China and Vietnam are quarrelling once more. This is not the only dispute on China’s resume. The country still has standing claims to Taiwan. Ten territories in the Yalu River are disputed over with North Korea. India claims control of Askai Chin that was seized by China in 1962 and China claims most of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The list goes on, involving Japan, Bhutan, South Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, even Kashmir! However, the current Vietnamese dispute is serious and must be paid due attention to, previously lying dormant since the 1974 war with China. After ’74, China took control of the South China Sea territories in a claim disputed by Vietnam. The quarrel began when China moved a massive oil rig into disputed waters earlier this month and sparked anti-China riots in Vietnam. Then this week, Chinese ships sprayed water cannons and rammed Vietnamese ships to claim territory. Once more amidst denials, it seems China was the first aggressor.
Can China really be the promised land of a new world order? With its guns and money out to fund its military and economy, can it really muck about like a bully and still retain regional power? Its development is slow to reach its people, universal human rights are an enormous moot point, there is censorship of the media and internet, its territorial disputes border on the ridiculous, it has no natural regional allies, the US is not happy with it and China may not just be in a trade war with the US but from the looks of it, a naval war with Vietnam. When analysed beyond its stable 7.7% growth rate last year, China suffers from just about every problem in the book. It might be time to ask ourselves if it really is the economic utopia we’ve understood it to be.