When considering the three most important factors that determine a country’s world power—military might, global diplomacy, and economic growth—China falls short on all three, or at least behind the United States. Despite opinion polls predicting China’s rapid ascension to the role of the world’s sole superpower, the United States’ military spending remains four times that of China’s. And according to George Washington University Professor David Shambaugh, “China remains confused and hesitant in participating in international affairs, still focusing instead on domestic development and defending its territorial interests.”
What’s the Big Idea?
In the area of diplomacy, China is further behind the United States than most of the public recognizes. While the US has steadily worked to build coalitions of the willing (admittedly dampened by the Iraq War), China’s allies often depend on aligning economic interest which can change direction with the wind. Economically, if China consistently grows at 7.75 percent, it will overtake the US by 2018. “Alternatively, if China’s real growth rate slows to an average of only 5%, then (leaving the other assumptions unchanged) it would not become number one until 2021.”