Monday, August 29, 2016

China Takes Over the World

China Takes Over the World
There [China] is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! For when he wakes, he will shake the world.
— Napoleon
Both the younger and older sister trope to Japan Takes Over the World, China Takes Over The World is when a future version of China, these days usually the People's Republic of China, becomes a major military and economic power rivaling, if not exceeding, the United States. It may also be one of the major powers backing or participating in a Third World War. Combining the Yellow Peril and the Red Scare, the PRC and its military assets provide a useful foil for the United States and the European Union, be it on the way international trade swings or on issues such as a certain island.
This trope has existed in one form or another since the mid-late 19th century, when fears over mass immigration of Asians led to racist and xenophobic political actions by European, British Commonwealth, and US governments. It actually predates not only the People's Republic of China (which won the Chinese Civil War in 1949) but also the fall of the Empire Of the Qing (in 1911).
The People's Republic of China began to focus on export-driven growth (and thus gain economic influence in the world) under the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, but it wasn't until The '90s that it began to assert itself as a world power. Since the mid-to-late 2000s, this trope has become firmly established as China in Real Life grew into its present position, though The New Russia is still often used as a source of plots and characters (the connections between the two nations sometimes being mentioned).
Like more than a few other... questionable tropes in this vein, this has some (emphasis on some) grounding in history. China is one of the oldest surviving civilizations in the world, and at several points in its history more-or-less controlled (or at least dominated) virtually all of their known world.
While this trope is not quite discredited yet, it might or might not have a short life expectancy.
Nowadays, the Chinese are a fertile market for Western media. To get their goods to Chinese consumers, American media companies have to get approval from government gatekeepers, who have the power to censor works that they find inappropriate. As such, media companies must keep a friendly relationship with the Chinese government and avoid creating or distributing works that portray the Chinese negatively even if those works will not be distributed in China. This dynamic is exemplified in the production of the 2012 Red Dawn remake, which changed its villains from the Chinese military to the North Korean military to avoid offending the Chinese government. But to alternative media, who see mainstream media companies pandering to the Chinese government, these actions actually strengthen the trope…
Note: To state what should be obvious, but may not be to some (hence racism and questionable politics), there is a difference between everyday Chinese people and an authoritarian Chinese government.