Only time will tell whether China can successfully replace the US as the world hegemon, but it is certain that the US will not easily abandon its leadership and interests in East Asia.
A power only having extreme physical capabilities does not make it a hegemon, since the hegemony does not merely depend on its invincible military but on its admirable features and values as a leader.
Most importantly, it needs to assume leadership and to have firm supporters to follow its lead. In this regard, it seems that China has more work to do rather than just showing off its muscles.
It is in no one’s interests to see China’s rise “alone,” but it is in everyone’s interests if China’s ascent can bring more peace and prosperity to the region. In the end, only the warmth of sunshine can dispel uncertain clouds from the region.
Eric Chiou is an associate research fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.