Thinking About the Unthinkable in the Far East

Chinese soldiers salute the Chinese flag during the  2008 Olympic Games in Beijing / AP

If Richard Nixon could have read Peter Navarro’s new book, Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World, during his landmark visit to China in 1972, he probably would have been shocked by the work or dismissed it as fantastical. After all, China’s economy was still based largely on agriculture when Nixon was there and its military was in need of modernization. Navarro describes the China of today as a rising, increasingly aggressive state that is trying to challenge the United States for both economic and military supremacy. How could Nixon have guessed that, just over four decades after his trip, China would produce more national economic output than the United States, wield highly-sophisticated military capabilities, and pose the greatest strategic challenge to the U.S. in the twenty-first century?