Christopher Hill ’74: ‘China’s House Divided’ (Project Syndicate)

Christopher Hill '74

Christopher Hill '74


Amid predictions from some corners that China will supplant America internationally, career diplomat Christopher Hill ’74 compares and contrasts their places in global leadership.

“The demise of compromise and collegiality in domestic politics has raised new challenges in America’s interaction with others as well,” writes Hill. “Foreign-policy debate in the U.S. has become a proxy for who is ‘tougher,’ which does not necessarily mean wiser.”

But he adds, “before the U.S. hands over international leadership to the Chinese, it would be instructive to look at China’s own internal political divisions and inability to synchronize its domestic politics with its growing global responsibilities. China’s problems make those afflicting the U.S. polity seem trivial in comparison.”

Formerly the  U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, Hill is currently dean of the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Hill’s comments are part “China’s House Divided,” his latest opinion piece for Project Syndicate.


  1. Martin Gray (1959) says:

    China’s problems in Asia extend far beyond petty squabbles with Vietnam and the Philippines over rocks in the China Sea. The elephant in the room, which seems to get very little attention from our diplomatic corps or media, is the resurgence of a re-armed Japan. While this has happened slowly, it has picked up remarkable speed over the past three years supported by ultra-nationalist forces in the Japanese military and spurred by aggressive moves toward Japan by China and North Korea. A fairly weak constitutional government in Japan will be unlikely to rein in re-armament and re-militarization. One should also note that Japan possesses enough highly enriched plutonium to go nuclear within 90 days with at least 40 – 50 atomic bombs if it felt necessary to do so and also possesses the missile technology and a modern air force sufficient to provide an effective regional delivery system. The slow motion removal of American forces from Japan, especially the relocation of the 8,000 Okinowa based U.S. Marine combat brigade and air wing to Guam, will also provide impetus, and lessen restraint, for the Japanese military to speed up its own re-armenent programs. Within the next two years, Japanese military strength enhanced at the current rate or greater, will far exceed what’s necessary to defend the homeland, and I suspect if China does not tone down its hegemonist regional agenda, we can expect to see a mutual defense pact agreed between Japan and South Korea emerge, and very possibly ambiguity surrounding Japan’s possession of nuclear weapons similar to israel’s policy. I also believe that Japan and India would find it convenient to form a close military alliance in the face of an aggressive China. In my opinion, these events would constitute China’s worst nightmare. The squabbles over rocks in the China Sea pale by comparison.

Leave a Comment