Since 1980, there has been just one constant in international politics: China is rising. But the expansion of its economic influence is quite different than the expansion of its military role.
President Xi Jinping will not challenge American military supremacy for the foreseeable future. Outside East Asia, conventional U.S. military dominance suits China well, because it limits the risk of global conflict that might undermine China's economic development. Where Washington has avoided conflict, particularly in the Middle East, China's leaders remain reluctant to accept new costs and risks. Moscow likes to flex its muscles, but Beijing prefers to quietly build its strength on a firm foundation provided by an increasingly dynamic economy.