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Will the Rise of China Transform the International System?

In this article, the rise of China is discussed in the light of economic and military data, and what the challenge from China means for the global leadership of the U.S. is analyzed. Changes in the indicators of the U.S. and China’s economic and military power over the last 30-40 years are examined and an answer is sought for the following question: What will the consequences of China’s rise be in terms of the international political system? To answer this question, similar ‘rise and challenge’ precedents are discussed to contextualize and analyze and the present challenge China poses. This article concludes that while improving its global status, China has been taking the previous cases’ failed challenges into consideration. China, which does not want to repeat the mistakes made by Germany and the Soviet Union, is hesitant to pursue an aggressive military policy and tries to limit its rivalry with the U.S. in the economic area. While Chinese policy of avoiding direct conflict and focusing on economic development has made it the biggest economic rival of the U.S, the rise of China initiates the discussions about the end of the U.S. and West-led international system.

Will the Rise of China Transform the International System
Growth Rates of Chinese and U.S. Economies (1990-2020, Percent)
 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The main purpose of this article is to present the kind of consequences the rise of China poses in terms of U.S. global leadership and the structure of the international system. This entails a discussion of how the power struggle between the two countries will take shape in the future and an exploration of the data that indicates China’s economic and military power. To facilitate this discussion, similar recent ‘rises’ and ‘challenges’ are closely examined. In this framework, a two-stage analysis is made to help predict how the challenge from China will affect the international political system. First, by examining how some recent rises and challenges have developed and culminated, helpful examples are provided to contextualize how China’s current challenge should be assessed. Second, the data regarding the current economic and military powers of China and the U.S. are compared and inferences are made about how the struggle between these two actors will take shape based on the trend of change in these indicators, particularly over the last 30 years.

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