It is precisely because it is so difficult to know the candidates' views -- and perhaps so easy to misconstrue them given their past records -- that it is essential that the moderators in the upcoming debates do a much better job of asking pointed questions about a rising China with a rapidly expanding military.
America is still the world's only superpower, but China is gradually catching up. China's economy has become the second largest in the world, and the leadership is speaking with a louder voice in international affairs. And while historically China has eschewed building formal alliances with other countries, even that policy is slowly shifting: Beijing is courting new partners, including allies of Washington like President Park and others.
BEIJING -- China's enhanced transparency lends an excuse for some to sensationalize the "China Threat." In fact, China has reiterated that it's an internationally accepted practice to showcase advanced weapons and equipment in a parade. It is a reflection of the level of military modernization which signals a positive energy that China will maintain world peace together with others and it is not directed against any other country.
Bombast and appeals to nationalism make all the sense in the world as part of a campaign to recruit young people. However, the undeniably martial tone of the video, combined with references to blood and genes, will hardly contribute to China's efforts to dispel rising apprehensions about its future intentions.
China is steadily expanding its military footprint in Africa, highlighted by the recent deployment of 700 combat-ready troops to join a multinational peacekeeping operation in South Sudan. In all, the People's Liberation Army and Navy now have an estimated 2,700 soldiers, sailors, engineers and medical staff stationed across the continent.