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Predictions 2024: Xi Jinping's Sinosphere of Influence Will Challenge Asia's Future and Security

To safeguard Asia's peace and security in 2024, the free world must bolster alliances to push back China's expansionist agenda and forced sphere of influence.



Happy New Year to JAPAN Forward readers. We are pleased to bring you "Predictions 2024," a special New Year's series sharing the foresight and expectations of selected contributors for the coming year in their fields of specialty, continuing with Dr Monika Chansoria, a Senior Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) in Tokyo.

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Asia and the world perhaps are facing the core strategic question of this century. The history of global security is not rich in the peaceful transition of power from one great power to another. Will the 21st century witness a coercive China imposing a Chinese-style Monroe-esque Doctrine in Asia?

Under its ruling Chinese Communist Party, Beijing has deftly managed to control its internal and external environment. Doing so, it attempts to present the CCP's actions as not the arbitrary choice of an autocratic elite, but as the "indomitable will of the Chinese people." Behind this facade, the CCP seeks to improve its own domestic legitimacy and obtain a powerful source of impetus for its international strategic goals. These goals are wide-ranging, with the most strikingly visible objective being to create a Sinicized sphere of influence.

'National Rejuvenation'

Having emerged as Asia's most dominant power in the adverse sense, China is an expansionist communist nation that seeks territorial revisionism. Today, Asia's situation has reached a point wherein its sub-regions are just about a blink away from being swallowed by China geo-strategically. 

China expanded its territorial claims with its self-defined 10-dash line.

The PRC seeks to achieve "national rejuvenation" by its centenary in 2049. Beijing's ambition to "reform" the prevailing international rules-based system has increasingly gained momentum in the past few years. This objective requires an external environment that is supportive of China's strategic goals identified across the globe, namely, Africa, Latin America, Europe, South Asia (and its surrounding Indian Ocean Region), Central Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Caribbean, Oceania, and the Pacific Islands.

China's security profile in all these regions has grown leaps and bounds, mainly courtesy of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The project completely ignores the legitimate goals of integration, development, and inclusivity of the regional populace. 

Blueprint for a New World Order

Beyond the BRI, masking an intrusive agenda, come China's latest key 2023 initiatives. These include the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI), and Global Civilization Initiative (GCI). 


Together, they underpin Xi Jinping's blueprint for a new China-dominated world order, most significantly highlighting the skepticism around funding and support from China's state-owned banks, and its intense foreign policy shift towards the Global South. In all, these initiatives indicate Beijing's strong push to shape a new world order, empowering its influence in the global and regional battles.

Besides, China's security and economic relationship with the United States at the moment can best be described as turbulent and rocky. At the moment it is more about crisis prevention. Amid rising tensions, the tail risks in their relationship and flashpoints for potential crises are not decreasing in any case. To top it all, Beijing backs its military power with politico-economic stealth. By doing so, it seeks to create a coercive security fabric throughout Asia. China's attempt to redesign the region territorially is not helping Asian fortunes in any way.

China's President Xi Jinping in San Francisco on November 15. (©REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Pool)

A Chinese-style Monroe Doctrine

This recalls the Monroe Doctrine — a cornerstone of America's grand strategy in the 19th century. The doctrine was central to US foreign policy. It essentially opposed European presence and influence in the Western Hemisphere and its intervention in the political affairs of the Americas. A rising America, by proclaiming the Monroe Doctrine, gradually drove the European great powers out of the Western Hemisphere. However, in retrospect, the 1823 Monroe Doctrine as a foreign policy milestone could not have sustained militarily in asserting unilateral US protection over the entire Western Hemisphere.

This doctrine can be discussed in the modern context, where China is keeping an eagle's eye on the geopolitical landscape. Europe and Asia are caught in the middle of the Russia-Ukraine war, which has been on for more than 680 days now. The deadly Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East that began in October 2023 could well redefine the entire contours of this region.

Moreover, the Russia-China relationship has become an intractable problem for the US and its allies, as well as for the West's transatlantic alliance and politics. China's support for Russia has enabled the Kremlin to continue its aggression against Ukraine. It has also helped solidify the refusal of much of the Global South to condemn or sanction Moscow. This has further complicated the West's moves to isolate Russia and exclude it from the global systems.

Xi Jinping Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a reception at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. March 21, 2023. (©Sputnik/Pavel Byrkin/Kremlin via REUTERS)

Is Conflict Inevitable?

A hegemonic China would seize even a shred of American retrenchment at this point. It would be no surprise if Beijing were to use these two conflicts as a perfect setting to ensure that US' focus and forces remain pinned elsewhere. This would provide China with the much-needed latitude to perhaps take a call on its final assault to capture Taiwan militarily. Taiwan's annexation would undoubtedly seal China's dominance in Asia, subsequently leaving it free to brazenly meddle outside.

John Mearsheimer's classic The Tragedy of Great Power Politics made a powerful case for the inevitability of war in Asia as China rises. In a nutshell, Mearsheimer argues, "[…] if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony […] The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war."

The Antidote

The seeds of conflict spread across Asia in the above context are evident, ranging from the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea to the Himalayan Borderlands. Alarmingly, China has been asserting sovereignty in all these regions. It is unilaterally upsetting the existential status quo, further vindicating all prophecies relating to China's dangerous designs. As Mearsheimer's book explains, a more powerful China can "be expected to try to push the United States out of the Asia-Pacific region, much as the United States pushed the European great powers out of the Western Hemisphere in the 19th century [...]"

The corrective remedy to this would be firming up alliances and strategic partnerships regionally. These will serve as key offshore balancers to hedge against Chinese hegemony across Asia. In other words, a powerful deterrent to war. It is imperative for the free and liberal world order to adopt policy approaches that tangibly offset China's expanding and forced sphere of influence. This is essential to ensure that peace, security, and balance of power remain preserved in Asia and beyond. A Sinosphere created by Beijing's politico-military and economic stealth would spell disaster for 21st-century Asia and the world.


Author: Dr Monika Chansoria

Dr Monika Chansoria is a Senior Fellow at The Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo and the author of five books on Asian security. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the views of any organization with which the author is affiliated. Follow her column, "All Politics is Global" on JAPAN Forward, and on X (formerly Twitter).


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