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Peter Ko, Hong Kong, China
"I think China has made a statement"
 real 28k

Paul Connor, Toronto, Canada
"They will never equal America in terms of gross domestic product"
 real 28k

Sindy, Quinbao, China
"We are more concerned about our daily lives"
 real 28k

Joel Mapp, London
"I believe that any state with nuclear capabilities can be called a superpower"
 real 28k

Mark Kennedy, Brisbane, Australia
"The only thing holding back China from becoming a superpower is its communist ideology"
 real 28k

John Chang, Taipei, Taiwan
"China is going to regain its military power"
 real 28k

Andre Peillex, Nantes, France
"The US remains the unique superpower"
 real 28k

Deborah Buchannan, North Carolina, USA
"I think the Bush administration and the American people are quite angry over the situation"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Is China the next superpower?
Join our multimedia phone-in
China and the United States appear to have found a way of resolving the diplomatic row over the American spy plane.

China has released the crew of the stricken aircraft, after the US said it was sorry for the loss of the Chinese pilot whose fighter jet collided in mid-air with the US craft.

The Chinese would like to see this episode as an indication that they are ready to flex their muscles and "stand up" to the world's only superpower.

But is that right? Is China on the brink of becoming a truly global power? Is it already there? Does the world need a powerful China?

We have now taken your phone calls and e-mails on Talking Point, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online.

  56k Click here to watch Talking Point On Air  

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

  • Your comments before the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments since the programme


    Your comments since the programme

    The speed with which China is catching up with technology is mind boggling. Intercommunication and expansion of education leaves America cold. The overwhelming numbers of people and their enthusiasm for improvement and learning compared with the lethargic attitude of young people in the West is amazing and has to be seen to be believed. Will China rule the world? That is a definite no! But will they lead the world, that is a definite yes.
    Albert Gazeley, Hong Kong

    After past treatment, China has become wary of the West, but does not suppose that she can isolate herself as she once did. Over the past 4000 years, the Chinese military has been much more about defence than attack. External aggression is very much against the common Chinese philosophy of peace, harmony and stability.

    On the economic side, the population and strong government make China set to be the next economic superpower in 20 years or so, and without the violent power struggles typical of Western powers (i.e. the USA and USSR), Chinese strength looks to ensue for quite a long time! This should all happen if the Chinese government do not make the same mistake as the Soviet Union, and becomes democratic in the near future which has brought political instability, crime and dire poverty to many people.
    Chris Leow, Cambridge, England

    While China is not as powerful as the USA, it is increasingly falling into the Cold War role that was the role of the USSR in 1945-1990. While China on its own does not threaten the hegemony of the US, as America runs out of global allies nations like Russia, India and China will increasingly make their voices heard in Washington.
    Michael Taylor, London, UK


    A superpower is a global force that can influence world events

    Mr Bum, Chinju, South Korea
    A superpower is defined as a global force that can influence geopolitical and military events in every corner of the globe. China currently can not do this. However, if given the opportunity to develop their ICBM capabilities and maintain the country's nationalistic fervour, they will come to rival if not surpass the waning Americans. It would be a very big mistake for the Americans to take the Chinese lightly. For they have only one goal in mind: domination over the capitalistic American super power.
    Mr Bum, Chinju, South Korea

    China has the potential to become a "super power"; but first it must embrace democracy. Its people must be able to elect governments of their choice. Also, it must withdraw its forces from the territories of other countries it presently occupies, eg. Tibet and parts of India. In addition, it must pay compensation for resources it has extracted from these occupied territories. Furthermore, it should be the people of Taiwan, not the Chinese Communist Party, who decide whether or not Taiwan is part of China. If China passes these tests, plus abolishes forced labour, as well as respects peoples' human rights, then, and only then, it may be on the road to becoming a so-called "superpower".
    Roop Misir, Toronto, Canada

    In history, China seldom invaded other countries. Not because we are weak, but we are peaceful people. The reason for present days China's lag in technological and scientific development is due to invasion and rule by other people for hundreds of years. Now we are recovering and we won't be foolish enough to neglect military advancement. The only question: are the Chinese smart enough to catch up in science and technology with other countries? I guess yes.
    Martin So, Hong Kong


    Let's hope China will never be the next superpower

    Pablo Nguyen, San Francisco, USA
    Let's hope China will never be the next superpower. If it becomes one, the whole of Southeast Asia will become one country - China. If you think the Chinese government respects peace and harmony. you should look at its history. China could become a superpower very soon. It does not matter how long it will take, they will accomplish their agenda.
    Pablo Nguyen, San Francisco, USA

    I think it is most likely China will become a Global Superpower "if" it can overcome some of its internal problems just as the US did with the Civil War and The Great Depression. People must remember that the US began its emergence as a super power around World War I and grew rapidly afterwards. Although China may have some internal problems, as do all countries, I believe the Chinese people are more than capable of rallying as a whole to protect or defend what they all have in common, China is their home.
    Bill Hardin, Fort Worth Texas, USA

    I recently visited the US and noticed that virtually every item of clothing from sneakers to t-shirts was made in China. The US consumer is now tied into China's security; in that the collapse of such a huge market would cause poverty in China on a scale which would maybe even force the leaders to take China to war with neighbouring countries. The conundrum is that the US and China have become economically dependent on each other, and yet are frightened of each other, and speak in totally different cultural languages.
    Andrew Cook, Norwich, UK


    For the time being, China is merely a regional power

    P. Schrader, Bochum, Germany
    For the time being, China is merely a regional power. Its military, economic and technological capabilities fall very short of those of the US. However, the country's economical and technological progress is very fast too, which suggests that China may become a true superpower within the next 10 or 20 years.
    P. Schrader, Bochum, Germany

    China is still a Third World country in terms of poverty margins and human rights abuses. Let there be an improvement in this area before we talk of the country being a superpower.
    Simon Karanja, Kenya

    The history of superpowers surely proves one important point - size isn't everything. Power has as much to do with ideas and ingenuity as sheer scale. Look at how a small island, Britain, made itself an 18th and 19th century power despite being a country of only about 12-15 million people.
    J. Dunn, UK


    It will remain a regional bully

    Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria, USA
    People who claim that China is about to become a superpower do not know facts. China is a Third World country with a population bomb that will go off in 20-25 years. Its industry is backward and that pertains to Chinese military production as well. More importantly, millions of repressed Chinese people want desperately out. And what is their settlement country of choice when they manage to escape? Why? Of course "arrogant, self-serving, oppressive" United States. Unless China changes its political system, develops free market economy and last but not least, manages to limit its population growth, it will never become a super-power. It will remain a regional bully, nothing more, nothing less.
    Mirek Kondracki, Alexandria, USA

    The answer of most of you is either "yes" or "no". Before I give my answer, there are some points I'd like to make. As a Chinese person, I sometimes find it hard to understand the Americans although I received my higher education in the UK. The Americans have very young history and that explains why they view history in quite a different way. We do not view the world as the Americans do. The Chinese philosophy of life is peace, harmony, economical prosperity, because of our weak military, we were shocked to see the westerners coming to knock on our door with guns and barrels in the 18th century. Our philosophy of life hasn't changed much in the 21st century, except that we have long realised that economic prosperity must be backed up by strong military means.

    Sooner or later, China will become strong, as many of you know, "history repeats itself.' Finally, I'd like to give my answer to this question: this question is in fact the answer itself, if you don't see the "potential" of China becoming a super power, why do you ask this question? Like many of the Chinese, I sincerely wish the world peace.
    Luk, Yu-Po,China / Hong Kong / UK

    Only the American style constitution has the right to be a superpower. The corrupt and oppressive system of communism will only bring misery and suffering to the mankind. You can see how many young Chinese want to come to the West compared to Americans who are willing to leave their country. Without a civilised America the world will be doomed to the exploitation of tyranny. Don't forget history, without America's sacrifice the whole of Asia would probably be Communist now.
    Ben Hassan, Sydney, Australia

    China will be a superpower the day people flock to its shores, not escape from them.
    Chris Cormier, Canada

    It's about time the US was made to realise there is a world outside its own borders. Maybe the new President would like to visit it someday. The only shame is that it was made to realise this by such an "anti-West" country as China. Could it be time that Europe took the same stance? Would the US treat Europe as a new threat if it started disagreeing with what the US felt "the world should do"?
    Scott, UK

    In that standoff, Americans seem to be lost - not because they are really lost, but because they don't know how to lie, as did the Chinese government. A western typical democracy of course isn't capable of lying to people as Chinese government did and is doing to the world and their own people. I do not think China will become a superpower, just because its government is already a huge obstacle in that way. They will still go far, but not too far.
    Bof, Paris, France


    China is a creative superpower of a new sort

    T.D., Portland, USA
    The first image that comes to mind when superpower is mentioned is destructive capability. China is not the number one superpower in this sense. China is a creative superpower of a new sort. I think China won't take the course of Iraq or the Third Reich. Too much information exists for anyone to accept that road to superpowerdom. Tibet was a sad chapter; so was Wounded Knee. Life goes on.
    T.D., Portland, USA

    I think it was all a calculated incident: China's move was obviously to exchange an F8 jet fighter and a pilot for a U.S. made, high-tech spy airplane. The United States' objective was to capture even better images of China's strategic Hainan Island and probably numerous other intelligence on the island's important naval and air bases with a "forced" landing right on the supposedly enemy's soil (instead of on the nearby ally's soil - the Philippines, or a 7th Fleet carrier). Further, if China happens to become a superpower, so what? Wouldn't it be better for humanity to have China serve as a counterweight to other superpowers and to provide some sort of check-and-balance system in the notoriously treacherous global politics? After all who would want to live in a world of absolute secular power that would inevitably translate into tyranny? Believe me, global folks, in the absence of democracy, we're still better off with an oligarchy than a monopoly.
    Nguyen Trung Nhan, Hue, Vietnam

    The USA would never allow sophisticated Chinese spy planes to fly regularly near its borders collecting sensitive USA military information. In 1962 a U2 American spy plane was shot down when it was flying twenty-five km over Russia, so why should the Chinese not intercept American spy planes that regularly fly too close to China? The USA ought to be encouraging a peaceful unification of China and Taiwan but instead it is encouraging tension by supplying Taiwan with sophisticated arms .The area beyond twelve miles being international water should not apply to spy planes or planes that can be of a security risk to the nations involved. The USA has been taking advantage of this to spy on China. The twelve-mile limit law must be changed. The USA should start encouraging a peaceful unification of China and Taiwan.
    Christopher Okumu, Gothenburg, Sweden


    Of course China is becoming the next world superpower

    David Norsworthy, USA
    Of course China is becoming the next world superpower. This will be demonstrated within a generation when communist China conquers a "free" Taiwan, and places a mushroom cloud on any nation that defends that democratic state.
    David Norsworthy, Dallas, Texas, USA

    China will never become a superpower. It lacks the infrastructure (great universities, great companies, education system and open society) but the most important obstacle is the mindset of the people, which looks continuously to its past glories when all the modern inventions and discoveries come from the West. They will never catch up.
    Stephen, Colchester, UK

    The Bush administration claim it is their "duty" to protect "global security". Why on earth aren't they showing their "super power" on the global environment? Because it is not "in American's best interests". I now understand what a "superpower" stands for - doing whatever they feel like doing as long as those are "their best interests." China is not like that, and better not be one, if that's what a "superpower" means.
    Christina Wong, USA


    Who is looking after the interests of the world as a whole?

    AMcK, Belfast, UK
    If the Chinese dictatorship collapses under outside influence, good - but don't expect its successor to be Western-friendly. In the meantime, if the USA really wants to protect Taiwan, then let it fully assert its independence. If the UN Security Council were reformed to remove the veto of the big five, China would have less clout, would risk an intervention if it attacked Taiwan and would have to clean up its act on human rights. But the US will not want to give up its own veto. Who is looking after the interests of the world as a whole?
    AMcK, Belfast, UK

    China has become a powerful country, in sports and culture, and its military achievements are remarkable and also dangerous, if we realize, that China has the greatest population of the world. If China is or will be a superpower, time will let us know. The real matter is that the world is so worried about things that every age of the human history record. We should be worried about saving our world from the menace of self-destruction, supported by the current superpowers of the world.
    Jesus A. Cortes, Puebla (Mexico)

    The anti-Americanism throughout the world (including Britain, the US' most powerful ally) must be alarming to any American. Our planet is becoming more and more of a global community, and Dubya is going to alienate America further and further from the world. The days are gone where the rest of the west would jump to America's side in a heavy altercation with an Eastern power, and America needs to be careful with its arrogance and lack of co-operation.
    Mick, Springfield, USA


    All it wants to be is a strong nation

    David Yu, San Diego, USA
    China does not want to be a superpower. All it wants to be is a strong nation. To be a strong nation, it needs a strong economy and, as history has repeatedly shown, a strong military to protect itself. The country is trying to grow to its full potential. Modern China is still a young country with turbulent start, but the country has been imperialised and war-torn. What the country did in the past towards dissidents is highly questionable, but there is no doubt that China is improving.
    David Yu, San Diego, USA

    In response to Bong Peng Luck's rhetorical question, the People's Republic of China has invaded foreign nations on any number of occasions. Aside from Tibet, the People's Republic of China entered the Korean peninsula in the early 1950's, and invaded Vietnam in 1979. In the first instance, we and our South Korean allies fought them to a standstill; in the second instance, the so-called People's Liberation Army of China was beaten very badly by the Vietnamese alone.
    Joseph Yu Kuo, New York City, USA

    So long as China continues to suppress the demands of its people for human decency and dignity it will not be a world power - no matter how many missiles and planes it can amass. Economic reforms have prolonged the life of the communist party for at least another century (quite willingly by a salivating West, I might add) but the future is about knowledge and technology and there is only so much you can steal. In the midst of the most recent round of US-bashing, one might want to pause to consider whether China can remain whole!
    CM Wong, Southeast Asia

    Apart from the fact that China does not have some of the military capabilities of other countries, it is nevertheless a very great nation which supplies an abundance of goods to the rest of the world. Nearly all the soft toys in any toyshop come from China (check it out!), as do countless other goods. Unfortunately the nation's culture is being invaded by a host of unsavoury Western ideals and values. We can learn a lot from the Chinese people.
    Jonathan Castro, UK


    China today holds the key to the world's economic well being

    David Gordon, Princeton, USA
    China today holds the key to the world's economic well being, or pending disaster. The country is fast becoming the sole powerhouse for global manufacturing and industrial production. Is it not farfetched to say that China, if need be could satisfy the needs of ten planets? To the rest of the world's nations this spells financial ruin as most emerging nations rely almost entirely on manufacturing jobs to sustain their economies. They simply cannot compete with China.
    David Gordon, Princeton, USA

    It appears that most contributors so far agree that China has the potential to be a superpower but there is disagreement as to what a superpower is and when it might become one - whether it is economic, political, military or life-style factors which decide. Perhaps we forget that the Soviet Union was universally considered a superpower due to its military and political influence even though it was economically struggling. I believe that China plans to militarily and politically dominate "its" region before it becomes arrives as an economic superpower.
    Robert S, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

    It's a shame to see how propaganda operates in all countries. The US fails to see that it is fed half truths and it is a shame that the Chinese are fed half truths too. Neither country is infallible. Both have committed wrongs and both should accept that they have done so.
    AR, UK

    As children we used to say "Accidentally on purpose". This is what I think was behind the collision between the two aircraft in the first place. But like M Kelso of California I am not sure what China has gained or hoped to gain out of what happened. Perhaps they provoked something hoping for a certain outcome but landed up with a completely different set of circumstances and then being Chinese, had to save face - and please the masses. It is interesting to me that this came about so soon after Bush was inaugurated and not when Clinton was in power.

    We can speculate ad infinitum about this incident but I really think that there was "something" behind it and only the Chinese know what! One thing I do agree with is that if we really do need so-called super-powers in this world then we need more than one to balance the books otherwise the only one around will dominate - whoever they might be and whatever they stand for.
    David Thornton, Simonstown South Africa

    At this stage, I wouldn't consider China as a superpower. A correct definition would be an important global player and the world largest developing country. With its mass population and other resources, it seems to be the only country that has the potential to be the next superpower. However, their path to be the next superpower will take several decades to be comparable with the United States in both military and economic terms.
    Chong Chun Cheong, Iowa, USA


    The West is a few decades early in even raising the possibility

    George Chiang, Taipei, Taiwan
    The notion that China is on its way to becoming superpower can only be devised by those who have not lived in China. For the hundreds of millions of Chinese living in absolute poverty, scattered across all corners of China, the idea is absolutely hilarious. As a Chinese, I do believe that China has the potential to becoming a dominant power, but the West is a few decades early in even raising the possibility. All this just goes to show how the media in the West is not always informed or reflective of the truth. Just because it comes out of a television doesn't make it real.
    George Chiang, Taipei, Taiwan

    It seems pretty obvious that, in this incident, both the US and China were more concerned with economics than politics. And that answers your question: Superpowers in the Cold War sense are becoming obsolete.
    SB, USA

    There is no such thing as a superpower on earth. No one has won a war since World War II. If China is such a backward country, why does the USA try so hard to spy on her? Almost everything is made in China. If USA stops trading with China, prices of manufactured goods will skyrocket, and inflation will hit the USA. That was not an apology. Any man will say sorry to a widow, when he was involved in an accident that cost the life of her husband. You are humiliated only if you are forced to say sorry.
    C. H. Kwok, Baltimore, USA

    China has a closed society just like Japan. China will never be a superpower until it opens up its society and lets everybody in or out at the will of the people.
    Dan, New Jersey, USA


    Who or what gave the US the right to spy on others?

    G. Hoon, UK
    Who or what gave the US the right to spy on others? If they are so concerned about the so called "Global Threat" why did they refuse to join the Kyoto meeting to discuss the real threat to mankind??
    G. Hoon, UK

    Speaking of the economy, just go to the CIA Fact Book, and you'll instantly find that China has the second largest economy in the world, in terms of PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) only trailing behind the USA. Just visit China now and you'll find that many of the people there basically enjoy a comparable life standard with some Western countries, with the exception of not driving a car.
    Hua Yan, Canada/ China

    China will definitely become an economic power; a superpower most likely, not by design but by circumstances. The developing countries will propel the country into this arena because it is clear that the current USA leadership seems to be heading towards moral bankruptcy and is only interested in policies that generate its interests.
    Ram Nair, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

    When living standards are so appalling for many people in China, how can that government be a major world power?
    Emma Truswell, Sydney, Australia

    China is not a superpower yet - not until it can be independent economically. From the events of this fiasco, it was apparent that the Chinese government was using those airmen as a bargaining chips in its dealings with Washington. Furthermore, the country needs US support for its final push to join the WTO, and the International Olympic Committee will vote in this summer on Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.
    Steven Mun, Kuala Lumpur


    There is no real superpower in today's world

    David Lim, Singapore
    There is no real superpower in today's world. That the general American attitude is one of fear of rising nations like China exposes the inner insecurities within the US. With such insecurities it is apparent that the US itself does not qualify as being a protector of true democracy, much less a superpower.
    David Lim, Singapore

    By suggesting China can be the next superpower is exactly what the US wants, so as to create a new Cold War to justify its aggressive military stand, and its extension of military related activities all over.
    Rosabella Tai, Hong Kong

    The USA, Western Europe and China deserve each other. The USA and the West would prefer to deal with an authoritarian and stable China as a cheap source of labour.
    VS, USA


    China has the potential to become a great power

    John, Huddersfield, UK
    Since this whole problem began there have been constant statements that China has used the crisis to assert its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region. I find this quite strange because, yes China has the potential to become a great power but what must be remembered is that at present it doesn't have the military capability to deal with Taiwan and won't for at least another 10-15yrs. In my view people have simply overreacted due to the size of the Chinese population. As the old saying goes size isn't important it's what you do with it that counts. At present China can't do much but holds promise for the future.
    John, Huddersfield, UK

    The reality is that China is getting stronger and the way it handled the dispute over the American spy plane was the sign of an emerging new world power.
    Ciaian Pavel, Slovak Republic

    I personally find it difficult to accept the credibility of any country that still has a government responsible for the massacre in Tianamen Square. Unfortunately the world's leaders have conveniently forgotten the atrocities in order to trade with China. This fact together with the size and population of the country may well mean it becomes a significant world power. This would give us two superpowers with poor human rights records. The best scenario for the global community would surely be the formation of a stronger European community.
    Andy S, UK

    Your comments during the programme


    China is a long way from being a superpower

    Richard Ispwich, UK
    China is a long way from being a superpower, but the military industrial complex in the United States badly needs it to appear to be one. They whipped up the threat presented by the Soviet Union in the 1950's, and they need to do so again now, to continue absurd levels of military spending.
    Richard Ispwich, UK

    Foolish posturing and arrogance from the Chinese has resulted in a decidedly negative reaction from most Americans. China will not become a great power by resorting to foolish Cold War tactics. China is now classed as our mortal enemy, assuming the role of the old Soviet Union, but not acquiring the same superpower status.
    Ronald Gomez, Las Vegas, US

    Other countries see China as an economic goldmine and want to extract wealth from it one way or another. It is greed and it goes back to the history of colonalism and the opium war. China is very weary about that and also very fearful about the past coming back to haunt it.
    Ellie Low, Oxford, UK

    The quality of life in China is still on a par with other developing nations. Their telecommunications infrastructure and use of information technology is still way behind the US.
    M. Turner, New Jersey, US


    China's detention of the crew was a major tactical error from the start.

    Mathew Kelso, Californa
    China's detention of the crew was a major tactical error from the start. They had very little to gain realistically, as the US would never apologise for snooping and China obviously had to return the airmen. What is not so clear to me at the moment, is what did they get out of the situation?
    Mathew Kelso, Californa

    The emergence of China as an economic and military rival to the US should be viewed in the context of restoring geo-political parity in world politics. A nation that has never fought a war on its own territory, but causes indestructible ruin to others, Vietnam, Serbia, Libya, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan should have a counterweight.
    Achilo Guns, Jamacia

    Twenty years of de-industrialising our US economy have made us very dependent on China. Most of the parts of the PC I am using, the printer, the keyboard and the mouse were all made in mainland China.
    Louis Mascarno, New Jersey, US

    China's continued deployment of more ballistic missiles and fighter jets is sure to trigger an arms race giving shape to a Cold War centred around the Taiwan strait or even the whole Asia-pacific region. This will be extremely disadvantageous to China's future.
    Frank Warren Ho, Taiwan

    There was never any doubt that the US would downplay this incident, and eventually provide China with the minimum it needed to release the officers on terms that they could spin into an apology. Business interests wanted to avoid an escalation of tensions, and Bush is there man.
    Neil Abrahams, Oregan, US


    Historically and culturally, Chinese are neither belligerent nor invasive

    Li Bin, China
    As a Chinese citizen, I would appreciate being allowed to tell you how I feel about some assertions that China is a potential threat to the Asia Pacific or even the world. Historically and culturally, Chinese are neither belligerent nor invasive. China has neither intention to bully other countries nor ambition to dominate Asia Pacific. But Chinese are keen to protect themselves from being bullied even without orders from government. I think this is the potential reason why China react strongly on historical Taiwan, Tibet and the latest US spy plane issues. Speaking of the tanks crushing the students revolt, I admit that China is still far from being a true democracy and China needs to be democratised. But I believe it must be done step by step and it will definitely be done. One day the Chinese people will enjoy the same democracy as that is enjoyed by US citizens. US can be a great help to achieve this by its cultural influence but not by politics or military intervention. As for the question we are talking about, I think the answer depends on how you define "superpower". If it means a country that can bully others or a "world cop" country, I would say "No, never". If it means a country with great economic and military power, I would say "Yes, it will, in several decades".
    Li Bin, China

    I've noticed that many regard China as an 'evil dictatorship' and how everyone hails the US as the harbinger of 'freedom, equality and fraternity'. Most US citizens believe, almost dogmatically, how 'good' the US is and how 'bad' other countries are, looking not into the perception of others regarding the US and its allies. As someone said before, state the last time that China sent its troops to some other foreign country to invade it. The difference between China and the US doesn't lie in how democratic either country is, but in the respect and value that China gives to sovereignty and the disregard for the latter that the US constantly displays with the reluctance to cease its 'spy raids' in foreign (so-called 'international') airspace.
    Sebastian Arboleda, Bogota, Colmbia

    China is a communist tyranny with centuries of oppression backing-up its latest version of oppression: 80-90 years of communism. It also has centuries of tremendous technological innovation. I believe because of the enormous historical background of China they perceive themselves as now oppressed by the "Superpower Americans". Furthermore, because of their history they do not feel second to anyone and going forward they chafe at the notion of being second to the "imperialist Americans." In reality they are the true imperialists and will stop at nothing to displace the freedom of American power with their own. Should the world trust its future to the Chinese or to the Constitution of America - or more rightly - the principles that the Constitution holds forth and that America has brought to the world with tremendous effort, bloodshed and money. Where there are people there will be no perfect order but I take the Constitution and the freedom of justice in America hands down over tyranny any day anywhere.
    Fregolle, Berkley, MI, USA


    Let no nation, no person use might to take advantage of the whole world

    TW, USA
    It is sad that us human, intelligent as we are, cannot efficiently use and preserve the resources on Mother Earth so that all people live comfortably. Instead, we are constantly fighting to gain more materialistic advantages - as a family we compete with other families, as a group with other groups, as a country with other countries, etc. To be a "superpower" means that no one is to threat our materialistic interest, and that we can grab, before others, whatever there is in this world to grab. It is not clear to me that the US, as a superpower and a self-proclaimed human right symbol, really bears the right of all humans in mind. Everything it does is for "national interest" and for Americans. If that is all that a superpower does, let there be no superpower. Let each nation, each person have the equal opportunity to use the natural resources; let no nation, no person use might to take advantage of the whole world.
    TW, USA

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    I know many Chinese people, both naturalized Canadians and visiting immigrants. In discussions, the whole concept of "superpower" seems odd and distant to them. They tell me that "superpower" is an American idea, and that Americans use threats to their "superpower" status as no more than an excuse to spend more money on the military. China wishes to be respected globally and certainly will not suffer outside interference inside her borders, but has no wish to impose her will on those outside her borders. The Great Wall was not built to expand an empire; the Opium Wars were not fought to force Chinese will on the British and the Dutch. Many will raise the Taiwan issue as contrary to that feeling, but Taiwan has only not been Chinese since the victory of Mao Tse Tung.
    Thomas Andrews, Schreiber, Canada


    Twenty years of de-industrializing our U.S. economy have made us very dependent on China

    Louis B. Massano, Jersey City, USA
    A cartoon in the right wing New York Post on Thursday 4/12/2001 joked that the Chinese should keep the American reconnaissance plane, because most of its parts were Chinese-made anyway. But this is no joke for my native country. The fact is that twenty years of de-industrializing our U.S. economy have made us very dependent on China. Indeed, most of the parts of the peripherals ... printer, keyboard, mouse ... of the PC I am using were made in mainland China. An article in Investors Business Daily (bible for the American money-mad, along with the Wall Street Journal) on 4/9/2001 urged caution on China because Motorola, a badly strapped U.S. cell phone maker, needs the Chinese market. The Chinese have a mainland economy, and an economic condition closer to what economists call "autarchy" -- self-sufficiency -- than any other nation on earth. In relation to the U.S., the reverse was true 25 years ago. We in the West should hope and pray that after years of Japan-bashing, the Japanese don't make common cause with the new Chinese "totalitarian capitalist" superpower, along with the Russians, who seem to be drifting in that direction already.
    Louis B. Massano, Jersey City U.S.A.

    How can China accuse the U.S. of being arrogant when the Chinese government engages in cultural genocide in Tibet, uses slave labor in its factories, farms and mines and violently oppresses its own people; but pouts if anyone criticizes them? China always blames its problems on the outside world, while pretending to be an innocent victim in any confrontation. The U.S. government shouldn't have apologized for anything, not until China apologizes for its brutal annexation of Tibet and the slaughter at Tiananmen Square.
    Mike, Chicago, US

    As a Chinese, I would like to say we do not want to be a superpower if 'the superpower' always intervened in other countries' internal affairs, deployed military actions against other countries instead of using political dialogue. Also I do believe Chinese people love the peace if people peacefully understand each other. I do agree we are still a developing country, we will do our best not only to develop our country but also to make a contribution to the world .
    Peter Zheng, UK (China)

    China will become a superpower to the same extent that the former Soviet Union was superpower -- a one-dimensional force. The US is able to maintain dominance in many areas because it is attractive to talented immigrants. China, with her present government, is not attractive to anyone.
    Raj, India


    China made a diplomatic coup, but lost the battle of wits

    Peter Gabriel Nderitu, Mombasa, Kenya
    I think China made a diplomatic coup, but lost the battle of wits. The Americans are gloating over the fact that China is under pressure to make a good impression on the (mainly western) world. A continued hardline stance on the aircrash issue would have jeopardised 3 areas that China is at pains to safeguard:
    a) It's 2008 Olympics bid
    b) It's application for membership to the World Trade Organisation
    c) Taiwan's emerging international status.
    Unfortunately for China, the USA has overwhelming influence in each of these issues. However, the Americans should not gloat too long. Like the Chinese President said, "This is not the end of the affair."
    Peter Gabriel Nderitu, Mombasa, Kenya

    With US economy looking like going into recession, the attention of her citizens has to be diverted. What better way to achieve this by creating an incident and China, being the "sick man from the Orient", is an even better target, so sacrificing a clapout old Orion in the name of national security, global policeman, judge and jury, this has fitted perfectly. After all, the US government (not necessarily all of her citizens) has all her allies, especially the Western countries, to call on as a global shield to protect common good. Whether China is going to be a global power or not is really irrelevant, but the US and her allies' intention to force their will on other is! The incident has shown that the US government is a perfect bully!
    N Yuan, Malaysia

    What I'd like to know is who would be apologising had the Chinese plane taken down the US one entirely - 24 US serviceman would have been killed, by what was fairly obviously dangerous flying by a Chinese pilot. Considering how Chinese propaganda has tried to turn this around to make the US plane the culprit just goes to show how dangerous China would be as a superpower. China sacrifices the truth for what it calls rule of the people. In fact, it's just a thinly disguised dictatorship where power is passed down from father to son in a small minority, just like the oppressive monarchies that have ruled China for millennia.
    James Morris, London, UK

    It is very difficult to predict the future. A few years ago with the student uprising it looked like China would go the way of Russia and become a democracy. This may still happen. It is not whether China becomes a superpower that matters but rather whether it becomes a clear friend of the West through political reform. This is the only way to go since the West will never be communist. The last thing we all want is another prolonged stand off like the cold war. I urge the people of China to once again attempt to remove their dictators who think nothing of executing 2000 people a year apparently for body parts. They have held the US aircrew hostage and boarded and inspected US property without permission refusing to return it. This is the behaviour you get from a dictatorship.
    John Middlemas, Northampton, UK


    I personally do not want to see China in its present form become any more powerfu

    Matthew, Almeria, Spain
    I cannot help but feel that many contributors to this forum have misunderstood Americas "apology". America did offer some form of apology but it was very qualified and was not in the strictest sense an apology at all, rather an expression of regret. Whether China wants to be a superpower or not doesn´t matter near so much as what the Chinese government wants. I personally do not want to see China in its present form become any more powerful and the clumsy and insecure way this and the embassy bombing (which should not have happened) were handled reassures me that China doesn´t have what it takes to become a superpower.
    Matthew, Almeria, Spain

    The world cannot be controlled by us, we need to develop together, then we can have a better life for all of us. The reason why Americans are afraid of China to be the next superpower is because they will have lost their king seat.
    Min Shen, China


    China will, without doubt, become the economic super power of the 21st century

    K.P. O'Brien, Toowoomba, Australia
    China will, without doubt, become the economic super power of the 21st century. The majority of consumer products are manufactured in China, as they were in Japan during the 70-80s. The "Long March" satellite launch vehicle is the most reliable to date. In short China manufactures and exports good quality products, for sale to the Western world. Countries in the West have gutted their manufacturing industries. Manufactures have become importers, in Australia our manufacturing industry, what is left of it, is in marked decline. Indeed, it is difficult to find and buy an Australian made product.
    K.P. O'Brien, Toowoomba, Australia

    In response to Bong Peng Luck's rhetorical question, the last time that China sent troops to occupy another territory and claimed it as its own was in 1950: the unilateral invasion, annexation and colonisation of Tibet. Those events are also the reasons why Tibet cannot be considered an internal, Chinese matter. Texan secession would be an internal, U.S. matter because that state opted to join the U.S.; ratified its membership of the federation; and has not been the object of meaningful discrimination during that membership.
    Graham S, London, UK

    If only uncle Sam refrains from poking his long, ugly nose into other people's affairs with his spy planes, the Americans will have no need to tie the yellow ribbon round an old oak tree.
    Mohansingh, India

    The era of military super powers is over, since the fall of the USSR. Regional powers have come to the fore, America is unwilling to accept military losses just look at the Iraqi end game, Somalia, Kosovo, Macedonia etc. The new world order is regional powers with the ability to fend off foreign pressure, such as the EU, USA, China, CIS, and watch out for India and Iran's friendship growing in the future.
    Ritchie, Ireland

    I think that although this has been a misfortunate incident the US has been very arrogant about it. It took them 11 days just to say sorry for killing a Chinese pilot. Plus, Mr. Bush has been showing off his "tough guy" attitude since the day he came into power. I think it is far time that the US realizes that things don't work by bullying around others. You have to respect others for what they stand for. The US has the habit of meddling in other peoples' affairs. The US deliberately started creating tension with the Chinese by meddling with Taiwan and then flying spy missions to learn all the "nitty gritty" about Chinese military, even though it may be on international waters. Too bad they weren't clever enough to get caught. These 24 crews should have been dealt like any other spy person is dealt with. They should have been tried in a court instead of giving them a "red carpet" treatment. And let me tell you about this "Chinese dictatorship" propaganda that most of Americans have posted over here. It is my challenge to them that if they ever step out of American soil they'll realize that more than half the world thinks otherwise. So please try thinking beyond the propaganda most American media feed into your brains!
    Bilal, Canada


    What we need is development and cooperation for all countries including China and the US

    Conrad Cordero, Manila, Philippines
    The world does not need any superpower because this is the cause of all instabilities. What we need is development and cooperation for all countries including China and the US. We must preserve world peace and development so as that the world can fight effectively environment degradation, poverty etc., and not to encroach on the territories of others.
    Conrad Cordero, Manila, Philippines

    So, now America is being demonized for flying in international territory. America showed great restraint. China is a backward country that only exists because of the oppression of its population and years of brainwashing.
    Richard Lewis, NY, USA

    If history is anything to go by, China has all the qualities to become a superpower. It's been there before, right up until the Europeans came on the scene. At the time it too was so self-assured it was dismissive of other cultures. Above all, China's leadership is prudent but also fearful of losing control of such a vast country. That's why I believe a policy of positive engagement is the best way to bring this country into the international fold. I'm hopeful I'll see a democratic China in my lifetime. The country has 2 political systems already due to its 50 year preservation of the Hong Kong administration. I hope it can learn and be influenced by the process of democratic governance in that region.
    W Lee, London,UK

    Is there such a thing as a superpower? Of course the United States is, by definition, the only superpower because it is the only country that has the military capability to project its power on a world wide basis. However this status of superpower is only valid if there is the will to use this military might and demonstrably there is no will present in the United States to do so. The American people are not willing to accept casualties in any shape, size or form, thus its military is impotent and can only indulge in posturing or in small expeditions. As far as economic power is concerned the US has become part of the global economy, where it is one of a number of regional giants. The world continues to change rapidly, it is doubtful if we will be having such a discussion ten years from now
    Pat Norwich, Canada


    Being a superpower needs not just nukes but also a lot of allies

    Ib Pogi, Manila, Philippines
    I don't think China is near becoming a superpower now. Perhaps they would be even scared when they faced up the British.. Being a superpower needs not just nukes but also a lot of allies and not just allies but powerful allies! Then try getting Russia? Remember they're five in the U.N. Security Council.
    Ib Pogi, Manila, Philippines

    World superpower status is closely connected to economic superiority. Put it this way: America became the world's superpower by having vast mineral resources and a cheap labour force to exploit them. Japan had no mineral resources, but it did have a vast labour force and was quite close to the materials in South East Asia. China has an inconceivably vast workforce, prepared to work for next to nothing. It has a developed education system, including many fine universities - all turning out tomorrow's products. Finally - and most importantly- it has a Government who are obsessed with overtaking the West, and will spare no expense in doing so. I think China is a pretty safe bet over the next 40 years ...
    James Coyle, Cardiff, UK


    I'm glad the US is keeping an eye on China

    Paul Hicks, UK
    China has long been a formidable proposition in military terms if only because it can field such a massive army. The USSR was always wary of China for that reason. With an increasingly strong economy and rapidly improving technology, the Chinese government is wasting no time in building up its military strength. It does appear that they are aiming for superpower status. I wish I could be reassured by comments to the effect that the Chinese people have no desire for conflict. I don't doubt the truth of that, but policy in China is decided by a totalitarian regime which takes no account of popular opinion. Indeed, it responds to dissent by putting tanks on the streets. And let's hear no more nonsense about the invasion of Tibet being an "internal matter for China"! You wouldn't say that if you were Tibetan. I'm glad the US is keeping an eye on China.
    Paul Hicks, UK

    In the context of war and victor which in the end really determines a super power, take a good look at the last fifty years of regional conflict around China: The Korean war and the Vietnam war (supported by China towards the end - China & Vietnam enemies today, nevertheless) fallout were a direct result of China's deep involvement grudgingly acknowledged by the US. The threat then of bygone recent years has still not subsided nor been forgotten by the US and China. As China develops as a nation, direct conflict will be inevitable. Although we would like to think differently, wars will always be a part of mankinds' landscape.
    Fred, Tokyo, Japan

    China will have a hard time living up to superpower expectations. It would be nice if the United States could try and act more positively in the world today. China has more immediate concerns within its own borders before it begins to project itself into the outside world. The United States must try to be more progressive with its international policy. There are too many cold war warriors in both governments. The world has changed. Both countries need to move with it and move on from polarised thinking of the past. Europe and Asia have important roles to play and need to stand up and pull their weight.
    Chris, San Francisco / London


    I think nearly all would prefer US hegemony to a new Chinese empire

    Damian P, Sydney, Australia
    Although I oppose the USA's arrogance over the Kyoto Treaty, American dominance has produced peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and throughout much of the rest of the world. Many respondents have criticised American arrogance, but put to the test I think nearly all would prefer US hegemony to a new Chinese empire. At least under the status quo small nations such as Taiwan, or Australia for that matter, can feel secure. Also, regional conflicts are contained by US economic influence. Imagine a world in which minor powers have the backing of superpowers for their regional quarrels. You don't have to imagine ... The First World War began that way. I think we should imagine what it would be like to live in Taiwan, Tibet or the Spratlys and how people there consider the issue, as it effects them the most. As Rupert Murdoch may soon discover, China is a demanding bedfellow.
    Damian P, Sydney, Australia

    I do not hope for a polarised world remembering all the ideals and resources that were sacrificed during the Cold War. Isn't it strange that none of the commentators has any words to spare for the role of the UN. It seems to me that when we do get multiple players vying for a leadership role in the world, the UN will become more important as a balancing factor when the aspiring superpowers try to get influence and support. As to China's future, I do not see them grow into a global power any time soon. I think they will require at least a whole generation to have passed since Mao's death before the old structures can be whittled down and the deplorable state of their education system can be improved. In addition, it is economically attractive not to be a superpower; China only has the potential but not the means. Finally, history teaches us that a lack of democratic values or respect for human rights has never stopped any regime from bidding for world domination.
    Paaskynen, Finland

    I am studying in America at the moment, and the China topic is obviously one of great importance. Americans seem to have an insecurity complex over China. With just under $100 billion in trade with China, which figure is ever increasing, the US decided long ago (whether consciously or subconciously) that they would engage China. Global interdependence means that the US must tread very carefully with such a huge trading partner. Despite all US claims to caring about human rights, the only thing they care about is the money. Thus, China will continue to grow economically. Perhaps one day it may become a superpower. And who says they will be any worse than the US?
    Joel Selway, Crawley, UK

    I think we shouldn't be asking if China wants to become a super power or not because it already is a super power. The real danger for the west will be the very very close military cooperation between Russia and China. I think the Russians have a very advanced technology but they don't have money, the Chinese have the money and are in need of the advanced Russian technology. I am afraid we will be watching a wedding party very soon.
    Eric Shoffner, Prague, Czech Rep


    China is not ready to play this game, and should step out of the arena for its own good

    KMF, Beverly Hills, CA, USA
    China has decided to play a very dangerous game with the Americans, one that it is ill-fitted to play. A developing China has much to lose with angering the U.S., including the WTO, the Olympics and Taiwan's military position to name just a few. The U.S.S.R. played a competitive role against the U.S. until the late 80's, but the Soviets had the military reach and political experience to play it well. Due to China's threats against Taiwan and its increasing focus on its military might that could destabilize Asia, surveillance upon its actions is understood. The U.S. has endured years of similar surveillance along its coasts by sea trollers, and the Americans understand that espionage of this nature is necessary for nations to remain aware and secure. China's miscalculation in this matter could unfortunately be the start of a very costly and long-lasting diplomatic and economic conflict that it can ill-afford. China is not ready to play this game, and should step out of the arena for its own good.
    KMF, Beverly Hills, CA, USA

    I don't how the BBC defines the term 'super power'. If a 'super power' should qualify to be a rogue state, not to allow other nations to become powerful, to poke its nose into other countries' affairs, to support other rogue states, to pay lip service to human rights protection and violate human rights ... then the United States of America is the only super power in the world. My definition of a 'super power' is different. A country with rich human resources, real human development and fast growing economy is a real super power. China is becoming a super power and in the next decade and it will be the super power.
    Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda

    China is nowhere to being a superpower. The only reason that china has any power at all is in the fact that the United States allows China to sell a 100 billion dollars worth of goods to the U.S. every year. I think it is time to start cutting back on Chinese made items. Why should we do trade with a hostile country like China? We should start looking for alternative partners like India - at least they wouldn't hold a navy reconnaissance crew hostage if it so happened that a U.S. plane made an emergency landing in their territory. When I see a Chinese flag along side the American flag on the surface of the moon, then I will call China a superpower.
    Ben, Montreal, Canada

    I believe it will. Asia, in general, is striding towards becoming more powerful than America.
    Suzanne McMillan, Matsuyama, Japan

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