China stands at a crossroads. In only 40 years, they have gone from an insular and brutal dictatorship to a key world player.

The geopolitical question is "Where does China go from here?

Some people say the 21st Century will be the Chinese Century and will see the Chinese replace the US as the world superpower.

My view is slightly different. China has no history of global leadership, either benevolent or hegemonic. As matter of fact, the opposite, is true. In times of great stress, the Chinese pull back deep inside their borders and work on achieving domestic goals.

The Chinese are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars and a fledgling infrastructure. The Chinese may very well become a global superpower but the timing is not right. Their reserves may be a lot of money but it would be squandered with building a global blue water navy (the first requirement to be a global superpower). I believe the Chinese leadership will take their new found wealth and begin a massive spend on internal programs to leverage and solidify the gains of the last 20 years. This will help ease social unrest, and create a robust internal economy less dependent on exports.

I'm not denying that the Chinese won't expand their military somewhat and create deeper relations with suppliers around the world but this will only be to help fortify their domestic economy. It will only be then, 20-50 years out, where China will flex muscle. And even then, I am not certain it is in the Chinese mindset to be an expansionist power, like the UK or the US.

Thoughts?