China is coming from "WAINE'S World," or "Why Asia Is Not Europe." There's a host of differences, but the important thing here is that China sees itself as RETURNING TO ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE. We think that decades are long-term. China, w/ 3-5 millennia of history, sees its weakness on the world stage as ABNORMAL, compared with the literal millennia where it was the center of the world (zhongguo, or Middle Kingdom).China is not the Soviet Union. We probably need to shift our thinking when we consider China, and consider China we must. It is probably hard for many in the foreign policy establishment and academia to accept that Europe is no longer really first.
So, we may think of them as potentially anti-status quo. Conversely, China sees the status quo as abnormal, and/or sees itself as restoring the PROPER status quo, which is one where China plays a much larger role.
The absence of ideology becomes problematic in this situation. A Sino-centric world, and one which adopts a philosophy of rule-BY-law, rather than rule-OF-law, is one that would have rather different international trade flows, understanding of international law, and even fundamentals of international relations. It may not be IDEOLOGICAL, but there are certainly major PHILOSOPHICAL differences.
China wants a world which plays by more Chinese rules. Those rules may be less inhibiting for many, and would involve less meddling by the Chinese. On the other hand, it may well be a world that is also less equitable for all.
Regards — Cliff