6 The New China-Russia Alignment invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022 brought Russian-U.S. rela- tions to their worst state since the end of the Cold War. CHINA’S RISE China’s unprecedented growth in economic, diplomatic, and military power has propelled the PRC to the forefront of global players for the first time in centuries. During the past three decades, the country has grown more rap- idly than any other large economy while maintaining domestic stability and increasing its international clout. Following its decisive turn toward economic reforms and openness to the outside world in the 1980s, the PRC overtook many other countries and has become the world’s second-largest economy after the United States. China is now the largest energy consumer and importer and depends on reliable access to foreign markets and resources. From the mid-1980s until a few years ago, the PRC transformed from a revolutionary state whose government advocated global revolution into a “status quo” power that sought gradual integration into the existing international system instead of trying to overthrow it. Former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping adeptly described this foreign policy as “Observe calmly secure our position cope with affairs calmly hide our capacities and bide our time be good at maintain- ing a low profile and never claim leadership.”13 Through pacific speeches and announcing generous economic aid, trade, and investment deals, PRC lead- ers strived to portray China as a benevolent rising power pursuing a peaceful development path that does not threaten other countries. PRC foreign policy has continued this pro-globalism line and “win-win” rhetoric of mutual ben- efits. In his speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Yang Jiechi, Direc- tor of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, said, “Guided by a vision of global governance featuring consultation, cooperation and ben- efit for all, China has actively engaged in the reform of the global governance system. . . . We believe that the purpose of the reform is not to overturn the current system or start something new, but to improve the existing framework to reflect new realities and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries.”14 Even so, the demise of the mutual Soviet threat ended the de facto secu- rity alliance that had existed between China and the West during the late 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, the international outrage over the military crack- down at Tiananmen Square induced Western governments to impose an arms embargo on China. These developments led to a substantial reorientation in PRC strategic concerns. Previously, the focus had been on defending against a Soviet attack along China’s northern and western borders, whereas since the early 1990s, the PRC national security establishment has worried more about maritime and aerospace clashes with the United States and its Pacific allies.
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