The idea of China as a rising threat
in Imperialism and the development myth
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It is the overwhelming view, among mainstream commentators, that China is rising in a way that is somehow imperialist or ultimately will challenge the monopoly on wealth and power of the existing rich countries. Similarly, most First World Marxist writing sees China as either a ‘new imperial power’ or developing in that direction. However, there is no well-known Marxist attempt to detail or analyse how they believe such a historically unprecedented transition could occur and how China has supposedly transformed from being the largest Third World country to a new imperialist power. The most common argument given amounts to reviving Warren’s position: that all capitalist economic growth (GDP growth) leads to advanced capitalism. In that view, a lot of economic growth – as has occurred in China – would bring about very advanced capitalism, and therefore capitalist imperialism. Conflating the spread of capitalist commodity production with the idea of building an advanced economy (or a new imperialist country) is the principal contemporary manifestation of Marxist adaption to capitalist economic doctrine as articulated in Warren’s Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism (1980). Against this view, China experts like Ho-fung Hung, Sean Starrs and Peter Noland are far more cautious and articulate fundamentally different views of China’s development and prospects.

Imperialism and the development myth

How rich countries dominate in the twenty-first century

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