According to him, the years we are entering into puts us in front of an unprecedented Chinese power that requires the United States in particular to redefine certain parameters. The direction China is taking, which has been in place since the Tiananmen event, is obsessed with stability – a first-rank value as well as a sign of the rehabilitation of the Confucian philosophy. But behind this stability and this outward harmony, China is in the process of reviewing deeply its identity.
First of all, and according to Alexandre Adler, the Chinese model of expansion is utterly different from the one that was known during great period of expansion of the Western powers.
When we see how the Chinese operate for example in Africa, at no time and nowhere have the Chinese settled by force in one of the African countries with a vague desire to take the control. They never get into an expansive model where one takes control of the country and seizes its political elites, or tries to train them by sending them for example to take academic courses in the mother country, or sends aid workers to serve overseas, creates naval bases, anyway all the gear of a classic expansion… For the moment, there is no Chinese military base in Africa; there is no taking charge of the existing regimes by China either.
The second model is a more classical approach. It is an economic approach, the one that leads the Chinese to invest little by little with a certain caution that is highly strategic in Europe. They have indeed observed that the export capacity of China was better in Europe than it was in the United States. Why? Because a European community endowed with divided centers of power is more malleable to free trade than is a US Congress which may take heavy protectionist measures. This is why the Chinese have started – without being requested at first – to come and give assistance to the Europeans as soon as the Euro crisis appeared to be more serious. This is a reasonable study, according to Alexandre Adler, for whoever wants to guarantee their exports and therefore ensure the solvency of the European customer. Besides, the purchase of Piraeus resembles line for line the way the British purchased a small port forgotten in the Southern side of China, called Hong Kong, with an emphyteutic lease of 110 years. Here too, the rental of the Piraeus runs on a fairly long period of time. The Chinese are thus coming with a view to equip itself with an input port in the European Union, poorly situated geographically indeed, but it is a first investment and the Chinese gradually begin to think about other terms of direct investments in the European Union.
The third method is quite different: it is the way they operate in Asia, that is, Korea, the continental south-east Asia and Japan, where the Chinese feel at home. Here, there is a differentiation that lies deep in the Chinese mentality, the one usually translated by the phrases "cooked barbarians" and "raw barbarians". The Chinese had thought there were two types of "barbarians" – of non-Chinese: the "raw barbarians", who truly could not be assimilated to the Chinese civilization, and the “cooked barbarians", i.e. those who, while keeping some peculiarities that are quite "deplorable", had already begun to move to this civilization and therefore were quite easily assimilated to China. The Chinese have extremely fine powers of assimilation. For the Chinese people and according to Alexandre Adler, all the peoples of peripheral Asia are cooked barbarians, that is people who qualify for becoming Chinese to different degrees, and more or less quickly. The Chinese expansion here is impressive, in other words it does not endeavor to indirectly control, but it is just a matter of taking charge. Of course, the major revolts the Chinese may be confronted with in the coming years have already begun. It is the Vietnamese rebellion at the end of the Vietnam War. Of course, there are also and inevitably the jolts that the reunification of Korea is going to bring about. It is finally and mostly the deep irredentism to this Chinese pattern of development which Japan, despite its weaknesses, despite its visible economic decline, is still capable of opposing.
China’s first and prime ambition is to expand the boundary of the Chinese civilization which stops in Singapore and stops at the Russian borders. According to Alexandre Adler, the Chinese have a limited globalistic vision; they see the importance of international trade and of technology. Deng Xiaoping did everything so that they would not tell one another stories about their pseudo-superiority, and the Chinese believe they are an empire, but not in the sense where we had empires with fully heterogeneous territories subdued to a military type of authority. They think they rather have an expanding universe that is still able to increase, yes, to increase as far as its natural borders. China is a universe because it is founded on a unique culture and this unique culture must gain recognition. Hence at times some impatience and hysterias remain, such as the one that leads them to oppose frontal attacks to less than 5,400,000 Tibetans not assimilated. The latter, because they base themselves on a religious culture – powerful and rooted in time – and a way of life difficult to emulate, living with very low resources, oppose a fierce resistance to them whom they are unable to overcome. This Tibetan resistance has the gift of provoking the Chinese, while it would be quite easy to conclude on fairly simple concessions, knowing that this conflict with Tibet is hurting them in terms of image and giving them nothing. But the resistance which Tibet opposes, basically on behalf of all the other Asian peoples who qualify for being sinicized to this Chinese ambition to make a single body, has noticeable effects on the daily political behaviors.
Alexandre Adler then thinks that China has reached the parting of the ways. In the present state of things, the Chinese are no bearers of a conquering ideology. A fortiori today, the Chinese are less than ever ideologists that aim at reorganizing the planet around their power and with strongly set ideas about what India should be tomorrow, the after-tomorrow Africa … Not at all. They believe that the Chinese power must assert itself and must assert itself in Asia, that they won’t be so much quiet until they have solved the Japanese equation in one way or another. And, what is more, they believe they have authority to be evenly matched with the United States.