Will China be the Next Superpower?

The United States has dominated the global world stage since the conclusion of the Cold War in the early 90s. China is rising fast and spreading influence in the world stage. Opinion is divided on whether or not the vast Asian country can join the U.S. as the next superpower. Some critics reckon that China cannot sustain the costs in the long run of spreading influence in the world stage. The proponents of this notion feel that the upsurge in technology, research, and export business provides a solid backing in China’s quest to join the superpowers category. Achieving a superpower category requires a country to excel in the multiple areas of power projection such as military, economic, political, and cultural facets. China is currently making tangible progress towards attaining the superpower status, although it is still a long way to go.

Arguments for the Prospect of China becoming a Superpower

China is already an economic superpower on the global stage. Based on the purchasing power parity which adjusts the value of the dollar for what it can buy in any given country, China’s economy is larger than that of the U.S. Besides; the country leads the world in trade and exports. In 2016 for instance, it exported 0.7 trillion worth of goods more than the United States (Goldring, 2018). Additionally, China has embarked on an aggressive campaign to solidify its global standing by building a network of relations by America’s former allies. The important trade deals with strategic powers around the world allow China to spread its influence and influence cultures through economic ties. With a significant amount of products consumed in the U.S. coming from China, the Asian country is making positive steps towards spreading influence

Proponents of the idea that China is finally on its way to attaining a superpower status point to the country’s extensive participation in infrastructural development on the global stage. Analysts believe that the country’s latest infrastructural undertaking beats the U.S-backed post-war Marshal Plan. The project is estimated to cost about $900 billion (Phillips, 2017). China intends to use the project to boost trade and stimulate economic growth in Asia and around the world. For example, the Chinese government has built pipelines and a port in Pakistan, constructed bridges in neighboring Bangladesh, and initiated railways in Russia (Phillips, 2017). Beijing believes that the infrastructural route will kick start a modern era of economic globalization. China hopes to build infrastructure in various countries around the world and be at the center stage when their economies become rejuvenated.

The One Road One Belt initiative is vital to the Chinese to help them attain the global superpower status. Chinese authorities view the global economic plan expansion as integral to finding a market to disposing of their goods. Diversifying market for products and services from traditional allies is critical to sustaining growth at a time when their economy is showing signs of slowing down. The plan helps spread Chinese influence through shifting the capacity for cement and steel manufacturing to the less developed countries overseas. Also, linking the less developed border regions in China with neighboring countries will spur economic growth. Beijing is, therefore, positioning itself towards enhancing its superpower status through strengthening its financial position together with that of the neighboring countries.

The Chinese spending on military programs is fast approaching on expected of a superpower. The latest figures n 2018 show that the Asian country is currently spending more than three times Russia’s budget. The country’s military has transformed since its last armed confrontation, with Vietnam in 1979. The state still lags behind the United States in military spend. Comparatively, it still lacks carrier flights and other necessary equipment to project its power and influence to all corners of the globe as the United States. The Chinese capabilities closer to home, however, have forced the United States to change its calculations regarding the South China Sea in dispute. The massive spending and growth of China’s military strength are yet to reach the spending by the U.S., but Americans have been forced to take notice and respond accordingly.

China has already overtaken the United States in some aspects of military hardware. For example, the number of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles the country has in its possession or exports is more than the United States (Champion and Leung, 2018). China has successfully focussed on areas such as attack submarines at a relatively low cost to the government. The country’s defense spending has grown from $19 billion in 1989 to $228 billion in 2016 (Champion and Leung, 2018). Remarkably, the cost as a GDP had barely changed, remaining at below 2%. The burden imposed on China by her spending in government has remained minimal given the simultaneous growth economic growth. The focus on missile technology and attack submarines have enhanced the military advancement of the Chinese (Champion and Leung, 2018). Consequently, the country has successfully altered the balance of forces with the U.S. at a comparatively low cost. Additionally, the Asian nation has demonstrated a penchant for developing new technologies such as hypersonic missiles, and cyber and artificial intelligence (Champion and Leung, 2018). The Chinese military advancements, however, remain largely untested in action.  Accordingly, it is difficult to assess their potency compared to that of the United States. The Chinese progress in the global military arena is undeniable, negative comparisons with the U.S. notwithstanding.

Beijing has risen from a position of obscurity regarding contributions to the peacekeeping missions affiliated with the United Nations in the past two decades. China is by far the largest troop contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world. Additionally, it pays 10% of the global organization’s budget. The defining aspect of the U.S. superpower aspect is the extensive network of alliances with various nations around the world. The Chinese, on the other hand, only enjoy modest unofficial partnerships in the modern world (Champion and Leung, 2018). While the influence is still growing, it is an aspect which needs a sufficient boost if China is ever going to achieve a superpower status in world politics.

Additionally, the Chinese have shown their ambition regarding the development of technology such as artificial intelligence. President Xi has set the year 2025 as the benchmark for overtaking the U.S. as a technological power. Beijing appears to make investments and fruitful headways. Already, it leads the United States in the production of supercomputers. The country still depends on the United States for the production of chip production. China is a world leader in global technology, which provides a suitable platform to launch its quest to be a superpower.

Counter Arguments against the Prospect of China becoming a Superpower

The opponents of China’s position as a world superpower reckon that China lacks a cadre of diplomats spread around the world to spread its message. The soft and political power is partly dependent on the superpower having a well-regarded circle of diplomats to support its agenda around the globe (Champion and Leung, 2018). At the moment, the United States is well ahead in this aspect. To cement its superpower status, the Asian country has to strive to ensure other countries around the globe act per her interests. The numbers of these diplomats, however, is growing fast. Beijing has also doubled the budget to 15.6%, more than twice the budgetary allocation for the military (Champion and Leung, 2018). Spending in foreign affairs has increased since 2013 (Champion and Leung, 2018). However, the Chinese diplomatic mission has remained slightly minimal compared to that of the United States. China is keen to spread its culture around the world. The country has sponsored numerous Confucius centers around the globe to teach its culture to various people around the world (Champion and Leung, 2018). Even so, the Chinese are still behind the Americans in cultural influence. Getting a superpower status means spreading the idea and culture as far as possible, a dimension in which China has struggled.

The opponents of the notion that the country is finally getting to a superpower status cite its rapidly aging population. The state is home to over 1 billion people, which puts a considerable strain on natural resources (Goldring, 2019). Efforts to curb the rapidly expanding population have backfired in the last 30 years. As a result, the country’s population has exploded, with the majority being male. Also, the majority of the youth in the country have gone abroad to seek work opportunities leaving glaring gaps in the labor force. Additionally, the income disparities in the major cities in China is glaring (Goldring, 2019). The demographic challenges the country continues to face are a severe hurdle towards its desire to attain the superpower status. However, the middle class is growing quickly and fast, which offsets the challenges in population structure albeit to a small extent.


China’s quest to become a superpower is on the right path given its strong growth in the fields of economy, military, and cultural influence. The country continues to post impressive results in economic growth, with even Western community angling for a share of its market. Also, it has made significant headways in military development compared to two decades ago. Impressively, the Chinese government’s massive increase in military spending has had a minimal bearing on the Chinese economy. Beijing has also outlined ambitious plans to link various regions in the world through road and railway. The plan exceeds the U.S.-backed Marshall Plan of 1965. The Asian country is also keen to spread its cultural influence in various parts of the world.

The country is struggling, however, in the various aspect which could threaten its quest to be a superpower. For example, urban centers have massive disparities in income distribution. Additionally, the population has exponentially increased over the last three decades, therefore putting a strain on the available natural resources. Further, the population explosion has also led to an imbalance in demographics, characterized by male dominance. Additionally, the country lacks a cadre of recognized diplomats to help spread its ideas around the world. These issues remain massive influences on whether China will attain superpower status in the near future.