While Ukraine is envisaging a horrid political instability finding itself in a dilemma of ‘very likely’ invasion of one of the erstwhile world hegemons, (USSR) Russia, Taiwan, and other Indo-Pacific countries are experiencing a dire threat from China’s expansionist drive, it is very arduous to draw a line in defending the US’ hegemony.
In retrospect, since the 1970s, depending on the revolutionary reformations and contributions of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, China has been competent to substantiate its economic prowess that has given rise to a ‘hope’ in the minds of contemporary PRC leaders particularly, Xi Jinping to taste the palatable crown of world hegemonic role. Though this impetuous economic elevation happened, in contrast, facts exhibit China is still far behind in this race while the US’ maturity of the hegemonic role is well-palpable.
- Affection for Hare:
People get astonished and laugh at hare when they listen to the story of ‘hare and tortoise’. In the race, though tortoise wins the race that makes people acclaim and believes in its competency, it is rare to discern people are petting a tortoise in their homes like rabbits or hares. The US hegemony is worldwide accepted for its outward-looking and transparent structure based on open government, open economic system and transparent administrative procedures and foreign policy.
It is more democratic and people enjoy a total right of participation in the policy formulation that usually heads other countries towards to get engaged with. While the Eastern lion is fully based on a closed governmental system, less participant, less democratic and dubious foreign policy, the Western lion is more open and reliable. The case of Hambantota port, at least, proved that China is still lacking the competency of gaining the trust and fidelity of others.
- Military Bravado
The PLA intends to intensify the military capacity and increase the weight of numbers but the US has diversified financial and technological advantages. Although the PLA is taking different measurements and is in the function of intelligentizing its armors and warheads by modern technology, the US is far ahead of China. South China Sea is the tripping point of the Indo-Pacific issue where the US is ramping up support for Taiwan that would cause a ticklish defeat for China to the cutting-edge US technology and military advancement.
By far, the US is the world’s biggest spender on military expenditure. In the 2020 fiscal year, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the US’ military expenditure is estimated at US$778 billion accounted for 39% of global military expenditure, while China’s is estimated at US$252 billion securing the second position in this race. A recent study shows, the US’ military expenditure for the 2021 fiscal year is estimated at $705 billion while China’s is $209 billion.
The Eastern lion, however, has more manpower, ground forces, and naval power in numbers but they are extensively lacking the cutting-edge intelligentization. Considering the airpower, nuclear warheads, and missiles, the US having the valor of modern information technology is still the nonpareil. The USA has remarkably won the spirited trust of the UK, France, Japan, India, and Australia marking a good upshot in any rivalry with China in upcoming days.
- Economic Reign
Engaging China in the WTO in 2000 abrogating all the trade barriers and providing it with economic facilitation is, nowadays, deemed one of the most failures of the Bill Clinton government. Trump and Biden’s administrations were enough astute keeping sanctions up in continuity of the trade war since 2018. However, having no suspicion, China’s economy is one of the robust economies in the world. Scholars reckon China will be the world’s largest economy surpassing the USA by 2029 to 2033.
According to the estimate of the World Bank, in 1960, China’s total GDP was approximately 11% of the US what, in 2019, is surprisingly is 67%. By 2010, this Eastern lion has overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. IMF data exhibits the US is persistently the unrivaled competitor in the nominal GDP. The US’ nominal GDP in 2021 is 20.49 trillion while China’s is 13.4 trillion. In PPP estimate, China is securing the potent position in the list.
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Despite China’s Purchasing Power Parity success and remarkable persuasion of the BRI project in recent years, it could not have attained reliable trust from the others rather; it has given rise to fear and volatility among the correlated countries. The more China’s ‘one state two policy’ was applauded and widely acknowledged, the more its BRI project and debt politics is criticized. These vague economic politics has become a conundrum for the Asian and other countries after Sri Lanka envisaged a dodgy and grim economic debt deal in the Hambantota port issue. For many scholars, BRI is a new tool of imperialism that will not let China be an economic hegemon as it loses its acceptance to a considerable extent.
- Brain-Gaining: An Ideological Win
Providing international students with lucrative scholarships and monetary aid is one of the US’ ideological successes so far. When the meritorious students, from the developing countries, face a situation of ‘after meat comes mustard,’ their merits get stuck with uncertainty for the future. In this respect, the US has a long legacy of aiding and gaining the merits of international students. To be said rhetorically, America sells arms but buys merits.
A study of the Fulbright Commission shows, beyond the scholarship to the internal students, more than 600 American universities offer a scholarship to international students that is worth $20,000 or more. The annual budget for R&D in the US grew to $138.9 billion in 2019 what was $3.5 billion in 1955. In the 2021 fiscal year, the US invested $142.2 billion in Federal R&D insisting on the development of Science, Technology, AI, and so on.
According to the OECD, in 2019, the United States has spent more than US$612 billion in R&D expenditure while China spent $514 billion. Despite that, nowadays, both countries are spending in R&D neck and neck but US’ ideological gain from the scholarship is more robust than any other country. The US, however, got competent to establish its capitalist reign in the developing countries through the soft power of scholarship in which China is still aspiring.
- Institutional Power
The US dominance in the international institutions is not a new aspect of US’ hegemony. Since the early phase of institutional emergence in the Western hemisphere during the 18th and 19th centuries, the US has been the epicenter of all key roles. The significant role of the US in international organisations had begun to be palpable after the Fourteen Point, an idealist approach of Woodrow Wilson on the framework of bringing peace and organising international institutions in 1918. Even, in this contemporary time, the key roles of the US’ administrative personnel in the UN, World Bank, WTO, WHO, IMF, ILO and many other organisations are widely comprehended for Americentrism.
China, however, strived to strengthen its influence in global governance through the strategic roles in the BRICS and ADB despite their limited persuasion and the net of regionalism. This Eastern lion is extremely struggling in the race of acquiring sturdy supremacy. It has already started employing personnel and engaging in diverse sectors of global governance but is yet far behind the USA. The USA, in this case, is incomparably dominating the world.
To conclude, despite China’s shortcomings in these core areas, it is weighed the most peer competitor to the USA. Surpassing Russia in the world hegemonic race, China is notably appearing as the biggest rival of America giving rise to fear in the minds of American think tanks of losing dominance. The fear of loss seems to be indomitable from several perspectives since the US, at the same time, is worried about Ukraine and Taiwan (Indo-Pacific). Therefore, China and Russia have been reckoned as the closest likely ally for the USA in the upcoming days.
The potential of the USA in tackling diverse political pressures single-handedly is well-acquainted throughout the world. the only thing that can make the US lose its dominance in the race is its internal turmoil. To this respect, the Capitol Hill issue surged a gruesome tiding of a military coup. Who could augur that? Along with the COVID-19 management issue, the internal threat of the right-wing uproar, and a national debt of $28.9 trillion, the Biden administration will envisage a horrendous mass disquiet about confronting China in Indo-Pacific Strategy and Russia in Ukraine issue.
Kawsar Uddin Mahmud is a political analyst. He regularly contributes to Bangladeshi and international media outlets. His areas of interest are International Politics including Media Politics, Geopolitics, Strategic Studies, and Political Theories. His Twitter thread is @mkawsar35. The views expressed in article are author’s own and don’t reflect the editorial policy of Global Defense Insight.