Hegemonic Stability theorists such as Robert Gilpin (cited in Friedberg, P.1) note that rapid changes are dangerous. Periods of accelerated economic and technological development typically result in dramatic shifts in the international distribution of military power, and these can raise the risks of misperception, mutual fears, miscalculation and confrontation.
International systems in which one state in particular is rising very rapidly are especially prone to upheaval. Friedberg reasoned out that swiftly ascending powers like China invariably challenge the legitimacy of treaties, territorial settlements and hierarchies of prestige and deference put in place when they were relatively weak. Neighboring countries see the situation as disruptive and threatening.
For K.N Waltz (pp. 881-909) and J. Mearsheimer (pp.13-18) along with many Realists, China’s rise is a threat as it is joining the multipolar system in which there are many strong states that make the region prone to instability. The end of the Cold War accelerates the emergence of a truly multipolar system, with a cluster of ‘big powers (including Japan, China, India, Russia and, to the extent that it remains engaged, the US) and an assortment of others with substantial wealth, technological competence and potential military power. If the realists are right, commented Friedberg (p.2), it may be difficult to achieve a stable, lasting peace in a multipolar Asia.
Some American activities in the East Asia region and their misperception (hence constructivism) against China shows American’s see China’s rise as a threat. As per D. Shambaugh (pp.52-79) and A.S. Whiting (pp. 596-615), the US is taking steps that many Chinese perceive to be aimed at containing their country’s rising power. These include intervening in the 1996 Taiwan Straight crisis, strengthening the alliance with Japan and discussing the possibility of developing a wide-ranging-theatre-missile-defence system. American decision makers regard these measures as defensive, and as response to increasing Chinese power and assertiveness. Chinese strategists see American actions as aggressive, and may well respond in ways that serve only to heighten American anxieties. The reason behind America’s actions and misperceptions is they see China’s rise as a threat.
Even from Democratic Peace theory perspective, the undemocratic China’s rise is considered a threat. Liberal, Constructivist and Realist explanations all lead us to this conclusion. The culture, perceptions, and practices that permit compromise and the peaceful resolution of conflicts without the threat of violence within countries come to apply across national boundaries toward other democratic countries. (Russet, p.31) China does not fulfill this criterion. Democratic states, each with perfect information about the other’s constraints, will always settle their conflicts short of war. (B de Mesqita and Lalman, in Russet p….) But, China cannot. Therefore, from both sides explanations perspective, undemocraticChina’s rise with no democratic behavior, with no information about itself is a menace.