The relationships between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States of America (USA) deserve much attention because of these countries’ power and global domination. The rivalry between states as the primary actors of global politics is predetermined by their authority amount on the global stage (Murphy, Jefferies, and Gadsby, 2017). The 21st century has already witnessed the rise of China, provoking economic and political concerns among Americans (Ikenberry, 2008).
Addressing the principles of realism and liberalism, the competition between the PRC and the USA may develop differently, and each theory has enough grounds for existence. Despite China’s evident rise and international growth following the realist perspective, which can end with the inevitable conflict, the liberal viewpoint based on cooperation and support should strengthen the US position and reduce global threats.
Realist and Liberal Approaches
The presence of two approaches in global politics proves the possibility of several directions in developing international relationships, decision-making, and problem-solving. Realists believe that most states are selfish and should take the necessary steps to increase their power, strengthen their influence, and achieve their goals (Murphy, Jefferies, and Gadsby, 2017). Following this idea, the rivalry between China and America will lead to international conflict if it is the only outcome to cover national interests. The position of liberals differs considerably because the theorists underline the promotion of a cooperative world where international and national challenges are solved for mutual success and progress (Murphy, Jefferies, and Gadsby, 2017).
In this case, the conflict between the USA and the PRC can be avoided with an eye toward peaceful mitigation and global governance. However, in their attention to explain the worth of complex interdependence through a cobweb model, the participants have to define a leading country in the middle of the web (Murphy, Jefferies, and Gadsby, 2017). Thus, the question of who should take the central position remains open and gives way to realist intensity.
During the last century, certain political shifts in the global arena cannot be ignored because they affect how the US and PCR governments develop their relationships. After World War II, the USA obtained enough influence and established itself as a leading world power (Ikenberry, 2008). Therefore, as soon as China initiated its political growth and changes, it had to face not just one country but the whole Western-centered system (Ikenberry, 2008). The question is not about the possibility of conflict but about the readiness of the PCR to resist the American impact. At this moment, China continues living in a system where the American government makes critical political decisions. In turn, the USA has to strengthen its rules and strategies so as not to lose its international influence. The liberal approach relies on the connection between the West representatives, which does not allow for continuing conflict. Still, from a realist point of view, the USA cannot defeat China independently.
Trade Relationships and Economics
The evaluation of economic and trade relationships shows that the rivalry between the two countries should hardly lead to conflict for several reasons. First, the period after the 1980s made China a beneficial trade partner for many countries (Mearsheimer, 2014).
The United States ensured its trade and economic intercourses to obtain mutual financial benefits. Second, China also gets multiple opportunities independently as an innovator in marketizing and liberalizing and with the US as its main foreign investor (Scobell, 2020). These two reasons prove the effectiveness of the liberal approach and the absence of serious grounds for new debates and controversies. Still, China cannot stop its progress in trade relationships and has enough resources to stabilize its free regional trade. As a selfish and capable state, China is able to gain trade independence, which is not acceptable to America. Therefore, conflict may be initiated from the US side in its desire not to lose control over and connection with a promising nation.
Power and Status
Finally, the relationships between China and America and the progress of their growing rivalry are determined by the attitudes toward power and status, either nationally or internationally. On the one hand, it is hard for the two leading powers to coexist and neglect their military adversary to achieve their internal purposes and benefits (Goldstein, 2020). Realists do not allow a strong country that has been in the shadow of another leader for a long period to miss an opportunity and change the current state of affairs. On the other hand, today, the US-PCR rivalry remains peaceful due to the well-developed abilities of the country’s political leaders to maintain their national goals, not at the expense of international disorder. Thus, the current status of peace, understanding, and cooperation prevails and mitigates the rivalry.
The outcomes of the growing rivalry between the USA and the PRC are hard to predict because of the two controversial global political theories. Realists consider the possibility of conflict as the only development of the events because China cannot waste its potential in trade and military affairs. Still, liberals support the idea of peace because it is a good way to protect the world against devastating nuclear wars and conflict. At this moment, there is hope that the American and Chinese governments will be able to reduce controversies and focus on global progress and prosperity.
Goldstein, A. (2020) ‘US–China rivalry in the twenty-first century: déjà vu and cold war II’, China International Strategy Review, 2(1), pp. 48-62.
Ikenberry, G. J. (2008) ‘The rise of China and the future of the west – can the liberal system survive?’, Foreign Affairs, 87(1), pp. 23-37.
Mearsheimer, J. J. (2014) ‘Taiwan’s dire straits’, The National Interest, (130), pp. 29-39.
Murphy, R., Jefferies, J. and Gadsby, J. (2017) Global policies for A-level. London: Hodder Education.
Scobell, A. (2021) ‘Constructing a US-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific and beyond’, Journal of Contemporary China, 30(127), pp. 69-84.