July 23, 2023

United States vs. China:
Who will win the battle for hegemonic position?

 

In recent years, one belt, one road, the South China Sea issue, the US-China trade war, the Wuhan lab leak conspiracy, the Taiwan issue, etc., have been the bones of contention between the two major powers of the world, the United States and China. 

 

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States emerged as the sole hegemon—a leading power in the international system—but the country is now encountering difficulties in managing its position of leadership. 

 

The ideology of the United States, “guided by principles of democracy, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law,” seems conducive to the international community; nevertheless, it has been proved wrong as the principles lack universality, especially in Asia and Africa. 

 

Most importantly, the United States didn’t keep its promise to be the breaker of its own rules, which resulted in wars and instability all across the world.

 

 

The United States is losing credibility in maintaining peace and stability for its allies and the rest of the world as a result of its inability to take the initiative in resolving international crises like the Israel-Palestine dispute, Iran’s nuclear issue, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. 

 

As a result, China now has the chance to step in as the hegemon and fill the power vacuum. As a rapidly emerging global power, China is endeavoring to dethrone the United States from its position and create a counterbalance by combining its strength with that of its ally Russia and other developing nations. 

 

Now the question remains: Is China capable of assuming a position of global hegemony?

 

 

The power transition theory suggests that the replacement of one hegemon by another through great-power war is inevitable when global politics is shaped by the intersection of the rise of one hegemon and the decline of another. 

 

However, China has been rising peacefully over the last two decades, which has gone unnoticed by the international community. Moreover, China had been much more silent in international affairs. The situation started to change when China became active in global affairs with its diplomacy and economic maneuvers.

 

 

As evidenced by its support for Iran in the nuclear deal, its assistance to Myanmar’s military regime, etc., as well as its support for North Korea in its missile test difficulties, China is now actively asserting its position on the global stage. The United States is no longer able to dominate and intervene in these events. Thus, on account of China’s recent rise to power, the United States is losing ground. 

 

China is attempting to strengthen its economic and political relations with European and Middle Eastern countries, which many regard as “stealing allies from the United States.” The fact that the European countries are remaining neutral in the confrontation between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region is a significant indication that China may eventually be able to retain those nations on its side in the future. 

 

Additionally, many African countries economically depend on China for their aid, loans, and development. This suggests that China has been gaining hegemonic status in Asian and African nations, where the United States can only play a minimal role.

 

 

China ranks as the second-most powerful actor in the international arena and is powerful enough politically and economically to seize the lead thanks to its advanced technology, rapid economic expansion, and growing military force. 

 

By establishing a new set of political and economic institutions like the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), etc., China is trying to displace the predominance of the United States. In addition, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a part of China’s desire to dominate the world, and it will open up routes between Asia, Africa, and Europe while maintaining control over the nations it links. 

 

Scholars contend that China might become the dominant power in global politics in the future if the BRI initiative is successful.

 

 

From the history of global politics, we know that no existing global hegemon is willing to extradite its position, and the United States is no exception. The United States is revising its foreign policy to confront China’s rise, placing a stronger emphasis on alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly the Quad, ASEAN, and AUKUS. 

 

Contrarily, it is evident that China’s ambitions are not limited to dominating Asia or the Indo-Pacific, and its “struggle for hegemony” now extends to the global order. In fact, China is building up its global efforts to unseat the United States as the world’s dominant power while enhancing its own economic and military capabilities. It takes both a regional and a global strategy to achieve hegemony. 

 

China is currently trying to pursue both strategies to lead the future world politics by guiding its ideology, values, and institutions.

 

The future of word politics is completely unpredictable. Let us see who wins the battle.

 

IR Insights

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