Indeed. For me China is interesting in two 'it could go either way' respects:
First, I think it is safe to exclude the possibility of China aspiring to become an empire comparable to the British or American one. The country rather engages in soft imperialism which you witness e.g. in how it silently gained control over natural resources in Africa, in its currency manipulation or its systemic copyright violations. The latter two are about on the one hand not playing according to international rules but on the other hand not grossly violating them via e.g. killing people.
Second, the country might either go down the 'democracy as a luxury good', i.e. once the population is moderately well off it starts to demand political freedoms, which many countries have gone down before or its model of the worst of both worlds, exploitation & sweat shop labour from capitalism and authoritarian one party rule from communism, might actually spread. Recent authoritarian trends in the West make this a distinct possibility.
This makes it hard to predict ideological changes and future conflicts. Unlike the Cold War and unlike the Fu*uyamaesque end of history dream of the nineties one could call the beginning of the century an age of confusion and uncertainty.