From Regional To World Power — A Quick Overview
Before 2008, China had been a strong regional power with a lot of dominance in the south China Sea. However, when sub-prime mortgage bubble burst, China was one of the few (if not the only) country that was in a position to be a global consumer. In 2008, China had a current account surplus of 10.1% of GDP. By 2014 the current account surplus was down to 2.1%. China also became the largest holder of US debt (from 900 Billion in 2008 to a peak of 1.3 trillion in 2012). This move shifted the balance of economic power more towards China, although the United states still has the advantage. This raise in Economic dominance of China, propelled with its high single digit growth rate, provided China with both the economic power and opportunity to make strategic investments. All the while, global growth had slowed down and was slowly recovering.
China used this influence to open its economy to foreign investment as well as investing in other economics. When we see China’s influence through this lens, it becomes apparent that China indeed has become a superpower. When we measure foreign direct investment inflow, China ranks in 2nd place behind the United States and Hong Kong ranks in 3rd place. When we measure foreign direct investment outflow, China ranks in 3nd place while Hong Kong ranks in 6th place. This reach and influence are just economic. Consider the soft power moves china has made over the years, with raising investment and expansion of Xinhua and the China Global Television Network, to funding of Chinese cultural programmes in Universities and different Institutes. The funding also comes with conditions, one of them led to school self censoring about topics like the 1989 Tiananmen square crackdown. China is even conquering the field of science and technology, with the greatest number of scientific papers being published from China in 23 of 30 active fields.
Hence the question we must ask ourselves, is not if China is becoming a threat or not. Rather, is China a big enough superpower to challenge the United States in global influence and power. As history shows us, a raising power inevitably becomes a ‘threat’ when it has as much influence, or just enough, to challenge an established superpower.
The answer becomes obvious when we consider what the ‘established power’ in this case the United States has to say about China. Ever since the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States, there has been an increase in tension with China. Starting off with tariffs in order to secure a deal that would protect US intellectual property. The tariff war now impacts $200 Billion worth of Chinese products and $60 Billion worth of Chinese products. The economic war is now intertwined with global security as citied by the United States in order to ban all Huawei products and technology. This led to US allies, New Zealand, Australia and after considerable backlash — Britain to ban the company’s technology too. One might argue that China isn’t a global threat, and this is just a manufactured issue by Donald Trump in order to politically relevant. However, when allies of the United States with different parties in power and when opposition candidates running for US presidency in 2020 also name China as a threat, one must recognise that china has achieved enough global power to challenge the existing power structure.
For the people who believe china has not become a ‘threat’ consider this, how many potential crises do you see today because China is challenging US global order? This writer can see multiple, from shipping and sovereignty in the South China Sea, to the role Economic crisis over Huawei, intellectual property and the potential unloading of US debt. China also has exerted its political power in favour of the North Korea and continues to extend its economic influence through the silk road and the Asia Infrastructure Investment bank.
When one looks at the growing influence of China on the world stage, both Economically and politically, one can conclude that china has slowly become a threat to established world order. This threat can only grow from there has China continues to make investments and exert its political influence in places like Africa.