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Addresses three principal concerns: (1) What are the available criteria for determining the appropriateness of labeling the People's Republic of China (PRC) a present or future superpower? (2) Does the PRC's past behavior or official assessments of the international situation offer guidance about China's future international role? (3) Will the PRC adopt an increasingly expansive conception of its security and foreign policy interests? The author assesses the potential effect on international politics if the PRC becomes a world power. Successors to Mao Zedong have stated that China's assumptions of an important global role in agriculture, industry, science, and the military is one of their central goals for the remainder of this century. Although it is uncertain whether these goals will be accomplished, their articulation has greatly stimulated speculation about the likelihood and implications of a world populated by more than two superpowers.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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