China: The Next Superpower?


In diplomatic and political perspectives, a superpower is a country that has an influential position in the global structure and able to project major military power in any country globally. Gallaher and Gilmartin (2009, p. 99) define a superpower as a state that has the potential to project governing influence and power anywhere across the globe and at times, in several areas of the world all at once, and so can credibly achieve the position of international hegemony. The word superpower was introduced to express states with greater power positions after the Second World War, but have just attained its exact definition with reference to the United States of America, the Soviet Union, and the British Empire after the war in 1945. This started since the three states had demonstrated themselves to have the power to cast major influence in international military, economic, and political supremacy.

After the break up of the Soviet Union, U.S. appeared to be the only remaining superpower and has engaged itself in military activities outside the country, for example the Gulf War in 1991, and the recent terrorism war in Afghanistan (Wodak & Chilton, 2007). Currently, it is broadly believed that just the United States of America satisfies the conditions to be ranked as superpower. The United States is considered a weakening superpower as shown through several factors such as derived economic revival, greater deficit, high rate of unemployment, financial instability, as well as raising political division.

Several economists and analysts expect that China will be the succeeding superpower by 2040 since China has been recognized by its emerging military and economic superpower. The combination of emerging economic and military supported the expectations of China as an emerging superpower in the world by 2040. Hu, 2011 (p. 1) asserted that China will guide the international monetary system by 2025 and that the Chinese currency (renminbi) will substitute the dollar as the international reserve currency in the next 13 years. This paper discusses the status of China in global perspective and China emerging in economic, political, and military influence to support them to become the next superpower. It also discusses bipolar world superpowers, which include the United States and China.

China’s Status

Economic Rise

China’s economy is often considered the fastest emerging economy in the globe currently since it has an average yearly growth of around 12 percent for the previous few years. China receives around $11 billion every year through foreign investment, and exportation goes on to growth annually (Angang, 2012). If Hong Kong and Taiwan are also integrated into ‘Chinese societies,’ China would be among the emerging regions in trade, domestic and foreign investment in the globe. Moreover, China is placed currently as the biggest market in the world for nearly all possible consumer commodities and might pass beyond the United States as the international biggest economy.

China’s economic position seems powerful and the rapid flow of education will additionally enhance the existing and remarkable collection of human resources. Entrepreneurship grows regardless of existing challenges to the growth of private industry. With public interest in collective ideology that is remarkably non present, China’s political leaders know that constant economic development is very vital in sustaining their national power and their stress on growth is so concentrated. Manufacturing, the biggest and strongest division of Chinese economy, appears hovering for more improvement.

In future, the Chinese expects economic growth to offer input to improve deeply the China’s extensive national power. As the fastest emerging economy in the globe, and with what can be the biggest emerging military expenditure, China can substitute the United States by 2045 as the biggest and influential economy in the globe (Dominic, 2012).

Military Rise

China’s military is usually considered the third world threat, which is powerless, vague, and technically outmoded, but the critics should consider the emerging economy that supports the military actions. The truth is that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the biggest military engine in the globe and is modernizing speedily on its technology and serves as a machine to be considered critically. The China’s economy is not just associated to local and international stability, but also its connection to will establish whether or not the U.S. and China’s nearby nations will feel threatened (Ross, 2009, p. 46). One major China’s objective is to go on to fund an updating military machine with an effective national economy.

Briefly, the China’s military may not purchase modernized weapon equipment without a strong economic support and similarly, a derived China’s economy may maintain a more updated military that is able to threaten most countries in Southern Asia. Therefore, China’s contemporary military body is attached directly to the achievement of China’s economy. Actually, the PLA has involved itself in deep-rooted business activities to support their upgrading of military systems. They possess and manage above 10,000 projects that entail a broad range of businesses, which include mining and food supply functions, as well as industries generating weapon machines (Breuker, 2009).

Political Influence

Definitely, China’s political power has increased in the last two decades. Relatively, this increase in political power simply mirrors the exchange in its place in the global order and Chinese political influence is increasing even more than Chinese GDP. Through munificent projects to most emerging economies in the world, China has held itself as the figurehead of this somewhat big group of countries. China’s capacity of projecting these forms of powers is a critical section of the description of power. It astonished several people during the climate change discussion where China and some other nations had successfully prepared themselves to prevent carbon discharge boundaries in their national operations.

Although most of these nations are expected to be the first countries to undergo the impact of climate change, they voted for the world’s largest polluter as representative. China has allowed other developing countries to get enticed through generous support and finances and, most notably, access to Chinese extensive internal market (Bergsten, Freeman, & Lardy, 2009, p. 10). The stability provided by Chinese government creates it to be among the few nations secure enough for foreign investors to operate in.

China as the Environmental Superpower

With a population of about 1.3 billion and among the fastest emerging economy in the world, China’s perspective as a participant on the global environmental issue has gradually improved in the last three decades (Brown, 2006, p. 169). China participation in the World Trade Organization and serving as the host of summer Olympics in 2008 have advanced the country’s international existence. Evidently, an increasing participation of the interdependence, involving Chinese emerging economy, political influence, and environmental matters, has encouraged China to consider some actions to resolve some significant difficulties and challenges. The reason China is getting involved actively in global environmental matters is that China has the intention of becoming a leader in the world. As one largest contributor to their domestic, together with local and international environmental issues, China may not manage to avoid participating in these debates (Johnson & Tellis, 2008).

All people understand that environmental condition is disorder due to extensive overbuilding and unproductive industries that are producing only to maintain their survival. As there is an increase in oil costs, the Chinese government has an exclusive interest in improving new non-petroleum energies that do not generate completely or generate minimal hydrocarbons and do not have the negative impact on environment, similar to several existing technologies. On the Chinese government perspective, the government contributes continuously a major role in cleaning the environment, as shown clearly through its intention to clean up Lake Tai (Breuker, 2009).

The industrial reforms and active energy protection policies, especially regarding coal consumption, have supported China decrease its carbon emissions in the last 10 years. China and the United States, which are considered the only environmental superpowers in the globe, are enclosed in a fight over climate change policies that sometimes emerge to bring about the animosity of the Cold War, according to Motavalli (2004, p. 17). China reacted so fast since their personal Agenda 21 provides China several acknowledgements globally as an accountable performer and a world-shattering nation, according to Hunter (2009). Through the application of international environmental funds, loans, and support finances from the foreign governments and World Bank, China is satisfying its dedication to global community to work out its environmental issues gradually, said Clay (2002).

As among the biggest economies and ranked as among the biggest populations in the globe, China’s readiness to associate with other countries and the capacity of drawing funds to improve its technology, as well as to solve constant population issues, will be crucial to its environment and public health as well. Not withstanding why China is intensifying its environmental policies and negotiation, the real impact should be an advantageous to its own natural resources and citizens, as well as the people of Asia and the world at large.

Bipolar World Superpowers

A bipolar arrangement, similar to the Cold War, contains two superpower states and the connections between these two states are fundamental to global politics. Every superpower state controls the union of allied countries and contests with the other superpower state for power in nations that are not allied. China and the United States are expected to introduce a bipolar system since China is expected to be equal in power with the United States. The condition is completely different from the Gulf War and Cold War era, which contained the United States and the USSR, and they were considered the only superpower countries and brought about the bipolar order. Hansen (2011, p. 43) asserted that the latest unipolar system will be changed into a bipolar system by 2030 and into a tripolar world by 2050, where the bipolar world will contain the United States and China, and tripolar world will include the United States, China, and India.

Despite the world’s fastest emerging economy, China may not actually take the position of the United States, but may be considered a postmodern nation since they focus on domestic development and does not consider security mainly relative to invasion. The military of the United States spends 45% of the global total security expenditure and the only country to have the local command stations outside its regions, including the space. It appears that the United States is the only country that may trigger conflict anywhere in the globe and this does not appear in China’s goals. The contradicting goals between America and China make it clear that China may not be classified like America, superpower (Lu, 2001, p. 8).

The postmodern world, which can be linked to China’s system, has some major characteristics that distinguish them from superpower. First, postmodern world provides the difference between foreign and domestic issues and security is derived from transparency, interdependence, shared openness, and mutual vulnerability, which may not be found in superpower world. Second, China follows the dismissal of pressure for resolving disputes and the resulting codification of self-imposed laws of conduct, and they have mutual interference in common internal issues and mutual supervision.

America is considered the only superpower country since it has dominated the international politics and ways it manages the conflicts in other developing countries. The superpower came to existence after the end of World War Two and this may not really be associated with the development in China. Superpower was the formation of the global politics of 20th century nuclear weapon advancement; although the expression of the superpower did not take the nuclear measures into consideration, but somewhat the international success of states or countries. As the Cold War became further established, the issue that differentiates a nuclear superpower from a 21st century postmodern world is the ownership of influence and control of crucial destruction and the power to control the global economy. This is a clear distinction between the powers that are contained by China and the United States and this makes China a postmodern world and United States to be considered the only superpower.

In Chinese values are at times called constructive postmodernism and if modern signifies industrial and urban, post modern does not signifies anti-modern, but should mean beyond-the-modern. Therefore, China may replace the United States, but continue to assume the position of postmodern rather than superpower. Postmodernism concentrates on the economics for community, but not only economics for development and there are more than 20 centers in China, with different levels of achievement, which are employing alternatives for rural growth, agricultural development, and urban expansion (Sieff, 2009, p. 99).

It is ordinary to realize that the United States, for instance, has considered constantly that its own principles must be sold abroad, while China has not at all experienced the necessity to proselytize, regardless of its own certainty of dominance. Currently, China is a superpower when several considerations are measured, but it does not have any intention of dominating the globe, which is the same as the United States at present and the USSR in the last 20th century and this leaves the United States to remain in the superpower position regardless of the status of China’s economy, politics, and military. In equal conditions, Ibrahim (2011) stated that Chinese government believes that the main threats to China’s stability, and peace are ‘hegemonism and power politics,’ showing that the policies of the United States are intended to demoralize and produce disunity in the socialist countries and emerging economies.

Presently, the United States is the only superpower, but its economy is undergoing some challenges, and its power is declining. In Contrast, China is hovering to become superpower or most influential nation in the world on the horizon, which may introduce a bipolar world. Currently, China has outperformed Japan as the second biggest economy in the globe and now the fastest emerging economy. In fact, China is a peaceable nation and has neither terrorized its minor countries nor has attempted to widen hegemony over its minor countries, which most critics consider that this may be a primary difference between China and America. This distinction makes China be considered postmodern country and the United States to be a superpower. China is concentrating more in developing its economy instead of involving itself in any military operations against other countries since economic power may support to improve military efforts.


The United States has been superpower country for the last few decades after the break up of the USSR. The United States has been dominating the international politics, economy and military influence. Chinese economy is considered the fastest emerging economy in the world, and due to the economic rise, it has supported political influence and funding of military machines. China’s economy is expected to surpass the economy of the United States and will become the biggest economy in the world, and this makes China be a superpower by 2030. However, some critics believe that superpower concentrate more on global affairs and may invade its minor countries through military actions, but this contrast Chinese future goals. Chinese goals and developments make China be considered a postmodern country rather than a superpower.

China’s economic growth is dependent mostly on other sectors of its security, which are political and military securities, and actually, to the Chinese, economic security is as significant as military security. Presently, China is concentrating on internal economic matters and setting up its political position in the globe in the short-rage.


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