As it is universally acknowledged, throughout history there have been many power transitions on a global scale. Today, China and the U.S. share the power in some areas and it is thought that China is set to become a rival superpower to the U.S. or maybe to actually supplant it in the near future. In my opinion, the former is more possible than the latter because power is not one-dimensional. Therefore, understanding power shifts requires understanding what power is.
“Power is simply the ability to affect others to get the outcomes that you want” says historian and diplomat Joseph Nye. In this case, there are two kinds of power. The first one is ‘hard power’ which includes threats and payments, the second one is ‘soft power’ which includes common interests. If hard power and soft power are unified, the most strategic power is obtained: ‘smart power.’’
After we understand what power is, interpretating today’s global power shifts will be easier. It is said that China has been rising whereas America has been declining. As it is known, the Chinese economy is getting bigger day by day. According to Goldman Sachs, the Chinese economy will surpass the U.S. economy in the near future. It seems possible but it doesn’t mean that China will actually become a supplanter of the U.S. because the U.S. not only uses hard power, but also uses soft power under the name of ‘smart power’. At this point, a good economy wouldn’t be enough to supplant the U.S. but it could be helpful in becoming a rival superpower.
Furthermore, China is a developing country. Even if the Chinese economy surpasses the American economy, China cannot really be a supplanter of the U.S. because it has got numerous areas which are underdeveloped. Also, the population of China should not be forgotten. It can be helpful to develop the Chinese economy in the short run but it will be a difficulty in the long term. Lastly, military power is important for a country to obtain power and it seems that the U.S. is one step ahead because of the military power which it has.
In conclusion, the Chinese economy can pass the U.S. economy. Thus, it can be a good rival superpower to the U.S. but it cannot be a supplanter of the U.S. because of the strategic reasons.
Burcu Arslan – INT. K