[Note: This post was written for an online class on China’s Rise, and was supposed to be around 500 words. Without such space limitations I would have gone into far greater detail, but I thought it worthwhile to share my comments anyway, as brief as they are.]
Part of the difficulty of China’s rise occurring peacefully is due to leadership, the role of China’s leaders in establishing geopolitical perspectives and objectives. While previous generations of Chinese leadership sought to disguise their growing strength, Xi Jinping’s focus on ending US hegemony and encouraging a multi-polar world has increased global tensions in a variety of ways, including pitting nations like Australia in growing tension between the economic well-being of profits due to Chinese imports and the pivot of the United States toward the Asia-Pacific region at the same time, with growing concern and alarm towards Chinese expansion. In addition, China’s attempt to rise in global stature has been limited by China’s weakness in soft power, which has meant that while China can appeal to the material interests of potential global trade partners, its attempts at satisfying its own immense domestic demand for resources is often viewed as threatening by other nations, such as Angola, with whom it trades.
Part of the difficulty of China’s rise occurring peacefully is due to its domestic politics and public opinion, which creates a context in which efforts at dramatically increasing resources is necessary. China’s leadership has a social contract, albeit a somewhat implicit one, where China’s refusal to reduce political controls has meant that China has appealed to materialism among its middle classes to allow them to drive cars and improve their economic conditions, which has created a high and continually rising demand for gasoline and natural resources for consumer production. In addition to this, Chinese natural resources supplies have dwindled, meaning that this increased domestic demand has required foreign trade, which has raised the implications of increasing Chinese control and put China’s own citizens in danger because Chinese technicians have had to travel and work in vulnerable and insecure pariah nations where China’s natural resources may be found, which has provided China with dilemmas about securing its own citizens in dangerous places.
This suggests a structural weakness is present within China’s goal of rising peacefully. Even if China wishes to increase its influence locally to the point of becoming a regional power without the interest of being the world’s policeman, its rise presents major difficulties for the nations around it, which are forced to engage in bandwagoning (joining up with China and gaining security at the loss of some freedom), open hostility by banding together, or engaging in attempts at neutrality to keep the peace and create space with other nations. China’s own policies of aggressive claims of disputed territory in the East China and South China Seas in search of important resources like oil and natural gas, necessary for domestic consumption, have brought it into conflict with a variety of neighboring countries like Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan . China’s efforts at avoiding being cut off at the narrow Molocca Strait by expanding port facilities in Pakistan and Myanmar have prompted concerns on the part of the United States, while still leaving much of China’s vital international trade vulnerable to Thai or Somali pirates, even as increased reliance on pipelines has put oil into China through vulnerable internal regions where there is the risk of terrorism. All of this has made China’s rise and its increasing influence on raw material markets increasingly difficult to manage peacefully with regards to both internal and external conflicts given the complicated world we live in.
 See, for example: