A list of quotes from the press that demonstrate widely held beliefs regarding the global power shift, that are inaccurate.
"Much of its effort is aimed at deterring America from intervening in a future crisis over Taiwan." [Referring to China's accelerating military buildup.] http://www.economist.com/node/21552212
China's motives are the same motives any other large country has had in similar circumstances. It sees its future power limited only by any lack in ambition. Focusing on Taiwan (on the part of the West) is a foolish mistake. It suggests a reliable boundary when, in fact, none exists.
Additionally, all information indicates the U.S. has grossly underestimated China's near term military potential as well as the pace of growth of its economic influence. The latter, of course, is getting a vigorous boost by the West's misguided sanctions on Iran. China is giving the appearance of adapting slowly, but the only slow ones are us.
"U.S. Is Seeing Positive Signs From China" This article in the New York Times tries to squeeze optimism out of recent Chinese decisions.The error on the part of the New York Times, and apparently American politicians, is that we are starting to believe our own bullshit. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/world/asia/us-is-seeing-positive-signs-from-chinese.html?_r=1&hpw
The United States has been top dog for so long that our "leaders" have lost the ability to see other countries, and ourselves, realistically.
Hillary Clinton was an idealistic hippie type in her (far distant) youth. The young Hillary would have despised the current Secretary of State. The problem is that she did not give up her idealism for some bigger reality. She just camouflaged it for the sake of power. Essentially she has forced herself to believe that the political vices she rejected in her youth are necessarily a part of some bigger, better picture. A person like Henry Kissinger would have settled the conflict somehow, even mastered it, but Hillary just floats down the stream at the whim of currents.
She views China not as a real country, led by real people, but as a vague entity ultimately dependent on the United States, like all countries in that mindset.
If you remove all of the "Americanization" in Chinese leaders that exists only in the silly minds of certain people, China has a dynamic strategy. It will be different tomorrow than it was today.
Imagine China's view of Iran and Bahrain.
America has an important military base in Bahrain. We prop up a leader who oppresses the majority of his people, often brutally. We talk during the day about the importance of democracy but at night we send crowd control equipment and provide what ever "security" measures are needed to keep the majority crushed.
Iran has a leader who actually was elected by a majority, in a fair election according to independent American polling companies and universities. Neither Bahrain nor Iran comes even close to being democratic, but Iran is majority ruled and has a fairly elected leader.
When we say to the U.K. Prime Minister "What do you think about Bahrain and Iran?" He will say "I think what the United States thinks". In fact, for decades, most of the political leaders in the world have defended American positions, simply because America was the top power.
China fully sees the U.S. as losing power across several regions. The status quo favors them and their goal is not to defend any U.S. interests but simply to let things continue. They are not buying any American worldview. They are tolerating it while it is still practical to do so.