POST TIME: 21 November, 2020 06:58:02 PM
China – the rise of next superpower
The country with a population of 1.3 billion is looking forward to change the world order within the next 30 years when she would celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China in 2049
Dr. Md Akther Uddin

China – the rise of next superpower

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) unites China, Japan and South Korea in a trade deal for the first time and includes 10 Southeast Asian countries plus Australia and New Zealand which includes 2.2 billion or nearly 30% of the world's population with combined GDP of approximately $26 trillion that constitute 28% of global trade. After the United States famously left the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement this deal has opened a new window opportunity for China to lead the Asia Pacific. Undoubtedly in the mean time China deepens trade and investment partnerships in the region and worldwide. One can easily argue that China is the emerging leader in the region with the most influence on trade and rules making but we must admit that it is only baby step to be a global superpower.

China is a country with its unique culture and history which has over five thousand years of legacy. Many of us don't know that China is a country of great inventions, like paper, printing press, gun powder, compass, silk, wheelbarrow and many more.  Prior to modern civilization, Chinese used to believe that China is located at the center of the world and had played a very important role for many centuries before it lost its global dominance in the beginning of seventeenth century. The ‘land under heaven’ has not only shown extra-ordinary economic performance but also expanded her political and cultural influence across the continent in the last two decades.

China was humiliated by the western super power for more than a century and its GDP fell from a third to a twentieth of the world total from 1840 to 1950. The People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken control of the economy under the influential leader Mao Zedong. The country enjoyed tremendous economic growth in this period but the structural and institutional inefficiency undermined the true potential and inequality on the rise in a communist state. The deaths of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1976 were followed by brief and bloodless power struggle that resulted, by 1978, in the ascension to power of Deng Xiaoping.

The present day China we are dealing with is the ultimate dream of Deng Xiaoping’s “second revolution”. Since the economic reform, known as ‘open door’ policy, started in 1979 the country has undergone radical economic transformations and gradually become ‘manufacturer of the world’. Now, China has entered the Xi Jinping’s “third revolution” which is distinct from the earlier revolution as it has purposed: the dramatic centralization of authority under his personal leadership; the intensified penetration of society by the state; the creation of a virtual wall of regulations and restrictions that more tightly controls the flows of ideas, culture and capital into and out of the country; and the significant projection of Chinese power.

The sleeping Panda has once again woken up to shake the world. China is already the largest economy in terms of GDP Purchasing Power Parity according to CIA fact book data. The country with a population of 1.3 billion is looking forward to change the world order within the next 30 years when she would celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China in 2049. According to Michael Pillsbury, a China expert, it has started the hundred year marathon in 1949 to take over the Western hegemony. China has reemerged not only as an economic super power but also a global political change maker.

China has undertaken a great number of economic and geopolitical initiatives in the recent past. One of those initiatives is to revive the old silk route, once a major trading route connecting east to the west, China has developed the One Belt One Road (commonly known as BRI) initiative to demonstrate its econo-geo-political power and impose threat to the western hegemon. China has been investing heavily in key areas such as utilities, telecommunications, port construction and transportation in Asia and Africa. In line with that, China has already established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as an alternative to World Bank. The bank currently has 74 members as well as 26 prospective members around the world. The emergence of China as a global economic power is reconfirmed when Chinese RMB has been included in SDR basket in addition to the previously included four currencies – the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen, and the British pound.

China is not far away from exercising its military power across the continents. China has the capability to produce from pin to plane to satellite and become the manufacturing hub of the world. China has already established military base in Djibouti along with unofficial military bases in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Tajikistan. This growing military presence across the continent is not only to show the military power but also to protect the huge Chinese investment going into the region.

On the geo-political front, China has advanced significantly in the recent past. The country has been maintaining strong geo-political ties with Russia, Pakistan, Iran and many African and Asian countries. China has been trying to develop regional consensus in South-China sea conflict. Russia and China led the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or ‘Shanghai Pact’ which is a Eurasian political, economic and security alliance. We are going to see a gradual transition from ‘Washington consensus’ to ‘Beijing consensus’. ‘Beijing consensus’ - the Chinese approach to international politics, no interference in domestic affairs, no military interventions, no trade embargoes, provides the developing world with a real alternative of building relations with other countries.

Traditionally Chinese are conservative with strong ‘Asian values’ and have long cultural and historical lineage. Like previous and current global power, the British and the U.S., China has started spreading its unique language and cultural diversity across the world through Confucius Institute. However, the organization has been highly criticized because of rising Chinese influences in the countries in which it operates. 

Chinese business corporations, China Mobile, Tencent, Ant Group, Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei, Lenovo and ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) are becoming part of the global business landscape. The US has already realised the growing dominance of Chinese manufacturer in USA and across the globe. It is evident that China is gradually opening up and starts to show its economic, political, and cultural superiority over the West, the global hegemon. RCEP is only a stepping stone to be a global superpower in the near future.

The writer is Assistant Professor and Programme Coordinator (School of Business) at the University of Creative Technology, Chittagong. Email: [email protected].  The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own.