It's a favorite saying of the Obama administration, but it's equally valid for China's rulers, according to a new report from the Lowy Institute's Linda Jakobson. Where many in the U.S. and the world see a rising China, most of China's elite (from businessmen to politicians) are instead "deeply worried" about the trajectory of their country and whether China can overcome "daunting" domestic problems, Jakobson writes.
The upshot is that foreign policy won't be a top priority for China's leaders and their policy will continue to be "reactive," Jakobson notes. Nevertheless, the contours of future trouble are evident in Jakobson's report. Among China's key foreign policy aims, she writes, the top priority is the stability of the regime -- a stability which could be endangered if China is seen as being humiliated by foreigners in China's growing web of territorial disputes.
The potential for conflict with Washington is also prevalent. The biggest flash point, according to Jakobson, is U.S. intelligence gathering in China's "exclusive economic zone." The U.S. believes UN laws permit such activity, while China disputes that and both have military assets in the zone to monitor and (in China's case) intercept reconnaissance flights.