It is 2022, and the world is facing some of the most severe issues of the century – an ongoing two-year pandemic, violent conflicts, political instability, and economic issues. Those challenges are placing countries in fragile positions, forcing different coping strategies. However, this sensitive period also affects relations between nations, in this case, very influential countries, the relations between China and the United States.
The US-China relationship is the most complex bilateral relationship for the US. The countries have a common ground on several topics, like issues of trade and investments. However, some key issues remain unsolved, mainly China’s growing economic powerhouse and the threat it holds against the US position.
Looking at the complicated reality today raises an important question: which country will cope with the world’s challenges? Both countries have pros and cons to their systems, which also shape the social level. Considering all factors, I believe China will take over today’s main stage.
First, China emerged quickly from the global economic crisis due to the pandemic. It was the first country affected by the pandemic; however, the fast reaction indicates the ability to cope with crises. China was the only major economic power that showed positive economic growth in 2020. Due to its involvement in the economy and workforce, the government could shift some of the factories’ productions into medical supplies and masks. The Chinese government provided the manufacturing sector with generous financial aid to overcome the economic difficulties and adapt to the temporary change
Second, China has an enormous trading power; it has been the largest export of goods since 2009. It is the largest supplier of goods to the US and many other countries. Therefore, it creates a specific dependency and forces governments to rely on Chinese goods. Another essential field of interest that China rules are antibiotics and minerals. China is the source for over 90 percent of antibiotics and minerals, which are used for a wide range of production – from cars to missile-guided motors. Being a world-leading trading empire, controlling vital products can help China overcome any challenge that reality creates.
Third, today’s threats require a different approach, reflected mainly in technology. President Xi came with a new initiative, “Made in China 2025,” which intends for China to replace the US as the world’s leading technology power until 2025. China is also improving its artificial intelligence capabilities, knowing this is the future’s direction and its AI skills are ahead of the US. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said in 2021 that the nation that will lead AI would be the world’s ruler.
Finally, China has coped with the rest of the world. From being an isolated, old-fashioned nation, it became a global center for economy, industry, and innovation. China has learned how to play the western game and is now spreading its culture and principles worldwide via students in top universities and millions of tourists. Additionally, the country’s foreign affairs budget has been increasing since 2013, meaning China understood it should strengthen ties with other nations to gain the power it desires.
To conclude, as Westerners, we often don’t align with China’s values and methods in politics, economy, and society. Yet, the Chinese strategy is working, and the western world is starting to fall behind. Some believe it’s not enough for China to take over, but I can’t entirely agree. Only time will tell the development of the China-US power competition – until then, and we should pay close attention to China.