China isn’t try to be like America; It already is like America.
But how can that be? Don’t Chinese people pride themselves based on the fact that their country isn’t the mess of chaos and instability that the Trump era USA is?
Well, yes – and no.
See, the biggest difference that China has with America is that their political leadership is much more stable. That’s pretty much it.
In every other way, China is basically the USA of the East. Let’s take a look at a few points:
-China and USA are the world’s two biggest economies
-China and USA are *both* (depending on whether some disputed areas are counted) the third largest country by area in the world
-China and USA are both very diverse countries; China by its historical interbreeding with other Asian ethnicities and USA by immigration.
-They are each other’s largest trading partners
-They each control their respective half of the world. All other Asian countries are massively affected by China’s policies, just like how all other Western countries are massively affected by USA’s policies.
-They are ‘frenemies’ with their smaller, less populated neighbors (South Korea and Canada, respectively). Both of these smaller countries are often the target of bullying by China and USA, respectively and have no choice but to yield due to the size of their power.
-Chinese state media is biased against Westerners/Americans. American state media is biased against Chinese. (see Tong Zou’s answer to Does Western media fairly report the news in China?)
-Chinese have a lot of nationalistic pride in their country and do not hesitate to let the world know how great their country is. Americans – I would say most used to be like this – but with the Trump administration being so divisive, less so these days.
-Both countries have leadership systems based on meritocracy. This stands in contrast to Japan and Korea where leadership is based on seniority
-Both place a high priority on security – the USA especially ramped this up after the 9/11 attacks – the immigration borders for both countries are amongst the strictest in the world.
-China is one of the most capitalistic countries in the world, probably even more than the US. This is demonstrated by the large income inequality gap that exists – the rich people are thousands of times richer than the poor people – the USA and China have probably the largest income inequality gaps in the world – a sign of unfettered capitalism.
-Another aside is that Chinese people dress like Americans. No, really. Hasn’t anyone else noticed this? Whereas neighboring Korea/Japan tend to dress up more and sometimes wear their traditional outfits (Hanbok/Kimono) for special occasions, Chinese people dress in the same casual style as Americans and do not wear their traditional outfits (Hanfu) for any occasion anymore.
-Again, deviating from the Confucian work principles and social cues of their neighbors Korea/Japan, more and more Chinese companies are adopting American style work culture. This includes more perks, time off, leadership systems governed by meritocracy rather than hierarchy, and none of the strict social cues that Korea/Japan has (for example, you don’t bow when you greet people, and your life isn’t controlled by your boss).
-China also lacks the other Confucian traditions such as the traditional ceremonies where the women would prepare all the food and worship their ancestors. This was all done away with by the Cultural revolution and essentially wiped China’s slate clean for a fresh start with their culture more and more influenced by the West.
So it follows naturally that China tries to be like the US more and more by ramping up their military, ramping up their nationalistic propaganda and using their economic influence to bully both allies and enemies. I’ve noticed that many Chinese people try to justify this by indeed saying that ‘Trump/America does it too’ and thus China is allowed to behave this way because America behaves this way. I’ve noticed Chinese tend to exaggerate and generalize how Americans behave (see Tong Zou’s answer to What do Chinese people misunderstand about America? ) but I think this is a symptom of a growing superpower.
Simply, the answer to the question is that China is evoking the US for its economic bullying tendencies because that is their right as a growing superpower, and it is their goal not only to catch up to the US, but to surpass it.