China’s re-engagement with the global political economy and its unprecedented ascendance as a major economic powerhouse since the mid-1990s has shaken the global community and triggered a radical re evaluation concerning China’s importance for the future of the world economy and global governance. There has emerged a large amount of optimistic literature portraying China as the principal engine of growth in the world economy in the wake of the global economic crisis, along with parallel and more pessimistic literature on the Chinese administration’s supposed sinister geostrategic “intensions” based on its anti-Western inclinations. This study argues that both these strands of writing in economics, development studies, political science and international relations literatures need to be treated with great caution as they tend to exaggerate the positive and negative aspects of China’s systemtransforming capacity. Although China has become a crucial actor in the areas of global trade, finance and production, its current growth capacity is based on deep interdependence with Western interests and multinational corporations. Also, widespread fears of China as a potential source of challenge against global governance structures are premature as China is dealing with deep-stated internal problems, such as rapid urbanization, socio-economic dislocation, income disparities, environmental degradation, etc., which at least in the medium term will impose system-conforming behavior on international platforms.
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