Most Americans have no idea of China’s military, industrial, and technological capabilities. From Godfree Roberts at unz.com:
By using force and pretending to benevolence the hegemon will certainly have a large state. By using virtue and practicing benevolence the wise ruler will achieve humane authority. Mencius.
In the course of his study of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides, the fifth century BC Greek historian, claimed that interstate relations are based on might, not right, and that states’ strategic interactions follow a recurrent pattern: while a change in the hierarchy of weaker states does not ultimately affect a given system, disturbances in the order of stronger states upset its stability. He said that lesser states strive to gain power at the expense of others because stronger states, hegemons, ‘do as they please while the weak suffer what they must.’
Modern thinkers theorize that hegemony has three components: material power, an accepted image of world order and institutions that legitimize the use of military force, and observe that the United States used all three to institutionalize its hegemony after World War II, in what became known as the Washington Consensus. The US insisted that Athenian democracy is the only legitimate form of government and enforced its claim through its military, the United Nations, the US dollar, the World Bank, the media and numerous political, technical and scientific bodies. It rewarded conforming states and punished or excluded those, like China, that judged government legitimacy on performance rather than ideology. Lesser states could revise their native ideology–as Sweden did by abandoning pacifist socialism–or attempt to universalize their own cultural values and replace the hegemon’s norms–as China, based on its long history of world leadership, is currently doing.