Looking at the increasingly belligerent behavior of China on the world stage, one is struck by the historical parallels of the 20th century. One that strikes me in particular is that of the German Empire of Kaiser Wilhelm between his accession and the beginning of the First World War.
Germany and Italy were the last nations of Western Europe to achieve unification. Italy gained its unity in the struggle led by the Garibaldi, and Germany by the politics and wars of Bismarck. Germany, now a great Power with the largest population in Western Europe, longed to take its place as the dominant country in Europe.
Firstly for both Germany and Italy this meant Colonies. Left with the scraps from the colonial table, Germany acquired a few spots in Africa, like Tanzania, South sea islands like the Solomon Islands, and half of New Guinea. Bismarck initially opposed Colonization seeing the cost outweighed the benefits, but eventually got swept up in the enthusiasm.
Wilhelm then decided that to protect his colonies, he had to have a navy the size of Britain’s, because Britain believed it had to have naval dominance. This led it to view Germany as an enemy and draw ever closer to France, and Russia away from antagonism to Republican France and England, and to alliance with them. The increasing tension caused by this led to WWI, needing only the spark of Sarajevo.
Is China today repeating history? China has obviously committed itself to being the Dominant Power in Asia. It is working to create the weapons to insure that dominance. The fact that it no longer has an exportable ideology to create allies means it must rely more and more on military force.
China is rapidly expanding its Navy and Air Force. In its behavior towards Taiwan and Japan is becoming increasingly bellicose. There is no defensive purpose for this. It is clear that China, Like Wilhelm’s Germany, or the Imperial Japan of WW2, is determined to establish Hegemony over its neighbors. What course will its neighbors take? Will India, China, Japan and Vietnam be forced to embark on their own policies of increasing their military power? Will they form alliances like those of 1914? Clearly events in Asia are becoming increasingly bleak and bear watching
Bismarck and His Times
By George O. Kent