The rise of China has sent shock waves throughout the world, all the way to Washington and resultantly, US-China relationship has become the talk of the town. Many American scholars believe that China and US will fall into the Thucydides’ Trap. Therefore, they support the zero-sum containment policy against China — the one US used against the Soviets. However, with varying degrees of confrontation and engagement, few predict hybrid relations between both giants. Fearing drastic outcomes and being rational actors, both cannot afford to misperceive and miscalculate each other.We are entering a new Cold War where, US versus China, is the new trajectory in global affairs. The populist wave that brought Trump into office and is now sweeping Europe, demonstrates nothing less than the retreat of liberal democracy and free trade because of their failure to deliver on the promises they made after defeating the USSR. This democratic decay, coinciding with China’s rise, has triggered a debate about the liberal order led by US and Chinese model of growth and governance. The liberal order is increasingly losing love and lustre for the violence that has plagued the developing world as they prefer security and social stability over democracy that leaves them vulnerable to separatism. I quote here three examples of how the prominent American scholars and practitioners judge China by using Western yard sticks to arrive at self-serving fallacies. Famous CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria once asked a Chinese professor, ‘the rest of the Asia embraced the Western political model, why not China?’ Professor replied, ‘China’s performance is better than other Asian countries combined over the past three decades. Let the two models compete.’Joseph Nye was asked to comment about the future of China’s rise. He responded, “No one can contain China; only China can contain China. It has serious internal contradictions, it lacks openness, democracy, and human rights; therefore, it will crumble on its own weight.” Henry Kissinger, on one hand, affirms China’s rise as a keen observer but, on the other, maintains that China will be preoccupied with enormous internal demographic, political, and social issues. He predicts China cannot sustain its growth as it lacks soft power and openness.The West views and explains China through its own lens. Their version perceives China as a revisionist power — a threat to the American-led liberal world orderThese conclusions and prophecies have roots in dynamic European philosophic tradition that shaped nation states, the enlightenment, democracy, and free will. Contrary to the US and Europe, China is a civilisational state that has remained unaffected as compared to other Western countries that have undergone radical transformation. China has defied many suppositions associated with western social, political, and governance models. For example, the West believes a society that grows economically, inevitably undergoes the process of modernisation, democratisation, and Westernisation. However, it didn’t happen in the case of China, the country that pulled its 700 million population from extreme poverty to middle-class status but with Chinese characteristics. Chinese have become affluent, yet they are least attracted towards liberal democracy. This disregard for Western models by China makes it self-evident that western democratic principles and governance model are not the gold standards, long proclaimed it to be.West considers China — a non-democratic authoritarian state. Because West considers that it has travelled all the way from renaissance — reformation — enlightenment — modernism — equality — democracy, and individualism. However, in China, this debate is discouraged because it is considered to be self-destructive, divisive, and a threat to its solidarity. In the West, disagreement is figured as healthy for it produces the truths and beliefs that society must follow and have faith in, but in China, disagreement is equal to losing respect. For this reason, China looks like a society of conformism and compliance where leaders decide and subjects just follow.Deng Xiaoping’s Cat Theory that reads, ‘It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice’ best describes the type of regime and governance model of China. It promises prosperity and stability and in return derives legitimacy and longevity of communist party rule by using the fear of poverty and instability. Because not a single Chinese wants to go back to the terrible era of miserable poverty and humiliation.In terms of power and control, unlike Western perceptions, China has a decentralized dual governance system erected upon two pillars — communist party and state. This twin system has a party and a state official at every position. Since Chinese pay respect to the seniors consequently, government and party officials are in total control which West thinks equivalent to repression and tyranny. China has a single party system because they believe competition among parties brings state to a halt by ceasing the existence of the government.Culturally, West is hierarchical, transcendental, and futuristic in approach. While, China has homogenous society with no concept of divinity and life hereafter rather they are ‘this world’ oriented. Perhaps because of its huge number of population that makes Chinese believe as a world itself. While West eyes into future; Chinese pays weight to history. The Belt Road Initiative is also an effort to revive the old Silk Road.Many wonder why China doesn’t claim any role in global politics despite being the second largest defence expenditure with almost 12 trillion-dollar economy in the global power structure. China seems to be quite successful in cultivating economic relations with the whole world to be perceived as naïve and benevolent power. According to the Confucius philosophy, you are judged as you are perceived, not by the image you construct for yourself but, by the image others have in their mind about you. For that reason, China, despite risen to a substantial rank and status, it will never ask for the recognition as great power because it can lose image thereby.It is fair to believe that China is making advances and creeping closer to that of US in technology, economy, military hardware, and infrastructural sphere but, its soft power capability has still a long way to go to match US. Even one element — democracy, makes US the world leader because the arc of democracy bends towards capitalism and US. There are obvious barriers to Chinese cultural dissemination that stop it at the border; whereas, the world finds itself difficult to escape the pervasive influence of westernization — equipped with democratic appeal, open society, human rights, and Hollywood blockbusters.However, 21st China has now started sharpening its soft power potentials. China, with its cash and technology with matching infrastructural development has become attractive ‘to be conquered’. Its branding projects like BRI [aims to leave more than 65 countries dependent upon China], promotion of Confucianism, Panda diplomacy, martial arts, and alternative medicine are receiving a lion’s share among Chinese policy circles.In a nutshell, West views and explains China through its own lens. This version holds China as a revisionist power — threat to American led liberal world order. While China pronounces it misleading and an effort to derail its economic rise. Western anxiety is understandable, as China has risen to a substantial level and is about to step into an era where people desire to mimic the socio-cultural values, technology, military hardware, and cash of rising nation. Many scholars describe it as the coming product – ‘China Model’ and ‘Chinese Dream’, an alternative of liberal order under Pax Americana.The rising political instability, rampant economic uncertainty, revival of nation state with tight borders approach under populism vis-à-vis internationalist liberal order, Chinese dream seems more appealing than American dream.The writer is PhD(IR) Candidate at National Defence University Islamabad, Pakistan, Visiting faculty at NDU, Lecturer at National Officers Academy, Islamabad, PakistanPublished in Daily Times, June 27th 2018.