Kevin Sullivan posits:
China is behaving how many realists would expect a powerful state to behave. This doesn't preclude conflict (obviously it potentially heightens the chances of conflict) but it does present something of a rub for the United States, especially for our politicians and our foreign policy punditry. We love ideological enemies. Revolutionary regimes - be they in Moscow or Tehran - excite us in a way that grubby, material-interest seeking states do not. This, I think, explains the rather flaccid attempts to date to dress up China's fusion of authoritarianism and capitalism into some kind of looming ideological challenge to the U.S. Otherwise, China's deal cutting with third world tyrants, its military investments, its economic agenda, just doesn't pack that dramatic punch.