Introduction: Developing World Security Priorities and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

  • Solomon M. Karmel


Many claim China is a “great power,” or even a “superpower.”1 Others note with alarm that China has matched its dramatically increasing economic and political clout with rapidly expanding military capabilities. In the words of Nicholas Kristoff, The New York Times’ respected China correspondent during many years of Deng Xiaoping’s stewardship, China “has nuclear weapons, border disputes with most of its neighbors, and a rapidly improving army that may—within a decade or so—be able to resolve old quarrels in its own favor…. China has been using its economic boom to finance a far-reaching buildup” and “seeks the influence of a great power.”2


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  1. 1.
    Samuel S. Kim addresses the question of whether China should be considered a great power in Samuel S. Kim, “China as a Great Power,” Current History. 196:611 (September, 1997), pp. 246–251.Google Scholar
  2. His answer is a qualified yes. For opinions on Chinese superpower, see Francis A. Lee, China Superpower: Requisites of High Growth (Houndmills, UK: Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1997)Google Scholar
  3. China is described as at least an emerging economic superpower in this source and in William H. Overholt, China: The Next Economic Superpower (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1993). For a journalist’s view of Chinese superpower, see Karsten Prager, “China: Waking Up to the Next Superpower,” Time Magazine. 147:13 (March 25, 1996) ( skU1wAUA988z30nM/time/magazine/d omestic/1996/960325/china.html).Google Scholar
  4. 2.
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    Similar observations were made long ago in Samuel P. Huntington, “Patterns of Violence in World Politics,” in Huntington, ed., Changing Patterns of Military Politics ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1962 ), pp. 17–19.Google Scholar
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    Mohammed Ayoob, The Third World Security Predicament: State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System ( Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995 ), p. 15.Google Scholar
  17. 28.
    Michael Richardson, “East Asians Fear Rivalry for Nuclear Arms Might Drift their Way,” International Herald Tribune. June 3, 1998, p. 5.Google Scholar

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© Solomon M. Karmel 2000

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