What China Wants Us to Understand about China’s Rise

Summary:  With President Obama going to Asia, it’s apropos to revisit this March 2012 post by Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired), in which he provides perspective on one of the most important developments of the 21st century. Correctly understanding and reacting to this is essential for America, if we are to have a successful grand strategy in the 21st century.

China dragon
Image from Forbes



  1. Introduction
  2. What China Wants Us to Understand about China’s Rise
  3. About the author
  4. For more information


(1) Introduction by Franz Gayl

On 9 September 2011 the FM website republished Will China become a superpower?, with articles by by Minxin Pei (Prof of Government at Claremont McKenna College; his latest book is China: Trapped Transition) and Young J. Kim (former Captain in the US Army, currently a PhD candidate at Korea University in Seoul). It’s worth reading in full.

This widely accessed piece has since benefited from extensive expert critique, a discussion that is still on-going in the comments. The discussion has provide an education for me on various aspects of China’s observed course and general historical precedents. I am neither a historian nor an economist, and there is little that I can add to those expert comments.

However, one voice that could be added to the discussion that began in 2011 is a definitive Chinese government position on China’s rise. During my development of a wider-ranging ICAF research paper in 2005 – 2006, I was permitted to interview Consular Jia Xiudong at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. where he then served. The paper in which the interview is nested has been posted on the FM website. Unfortunately, the length of my paper was as a major flaw, and the interview was effectively buried within it out of sight. Yet, Consular Jia’s observations in that interview would appear critical for the balance of FM’s China discussions today.

The interview is certainly dated in that it was conducted six years ago. This will be seen as many of the contemporary events discussed from that period have evolved or changed in quantitative scope. One cannot assume exactly what the Chinese would say today without conducting another interview in 2012. At the same, looking at the contents and given consistency-focused Chinese government strategic communications, it is unlikely a 2012 interview would yield much different positions, especially on critical themes.

My questions were wide-ranging and submitted to the Embassy almost two months in advance of the interview. Consular Jia was surprisingly candid in his detailed, Chinese Government approved answers to me. The interview was reviewed and approved by the Chinese again after I typed it up my notes so as to constitute a joint understanding of the 2006 interview contents shared by author and the Chinese Government in the published paper. I contend that its contents are overwhelmingly what China wants us to understand about China’s rise even today.

This is especially true when it comes to the topic of Taiwan and its employment by the U.S. defense industry as a justification for increased military expenditures focused on containing China. Taiwan is a salient topic today as industry and military interests are, according to public sources and media reports having significant success in influencing the Congress and Administration decision makers in this regard.

(2) What China Wants Us to know about its Rise

Excerpt from
Realism and Realpolitik – Setting the Conditions for America’s Survival in the 21st Century

By Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired)
His thesis at the National Defense University
Industrial College of the Armed Forces research paper
June 2006

(a) General Introduction

China is committed to peaceful domestic development in the context of globalization, and seeks to contribute internationally as a partner in a multi-polar world. China’s leadership is also faced with great domestic challenges, as the people of China have different concerns and interests throughout society.

On the international front, China is committed to peace and cooperation. In terms of U.S.-Chinese bilateral relations, misunderstandings have arisen that cause Americans to question Chinese intentions, and the implications of her rapid development. Americans ask, is China a partner to be engaged or a threat to be contained. These misunderstandings can best be mitigated through franker bilateral communications on sensitive issues, including perceiving China and the U.S. through the eyes of the Chinese themselves, i.e. standing in the Chinese shoes. It also includes prioritizing the self interests of our nations as core, vital, and important, and finding the commonalities between them, i.e. the purpose of this interview.

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