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The Chinese Century is a neologism suggesting that the 21st century will be geopolitically dominated by the People's Republic of China, similar to how "the American Century" refers to the 20th century and "Pax Britannica" ("British Peace") refers to the 19th.[1] The phrase is used particularly in the assertion that the economy of China will overtake the economy of the United States as the largest national economy in the world,[2] a position it held in the 16th, 17th century and early 19th century.[3] The Economist has argued that the "Chinese Century" has already begun, citing China's overtaking of the U.S economy in 2013, if calculated on a purchasing-power-parity basis.

China created the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as an alternative to NATO[4][5][6] and created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and New Development Bank as both alternatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.[7][8] China further created the Belt and Road Initiative, with future investments of almost $1 trillion,[9] to push for taking a bigger role in global affairs.[10][11]

In 2015, PRC launched Made in China 2025 strategic plan to further develop the manufacturing sector and aiming to upgrade the manufacturing capabilities of Chinese industries, growing from labor-intensive workshops into a more technology-intensive powerhouse. In November 2020, China signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as free trade agreement[12][13][14] in counter to Trans-Pacific Partnership.[15][16][17] The deal has been considered a huge victory for China in geopolitics.[18][19]

Debates and factors

Top five countries by military expenditure in 2016.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.[20]

In 2011, Michael Beckley, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, released his journal China's Century? Why America's Edge Will Endure which rejects the idea that:

  • the United States is in decline relative to China and;
  • the hegemonic burdens the United States bears to sustain globalized, unipolar system contributes to its decline.

Alternatively, Beckley argues the United States’ power is durable, and unipolarity and globalization are the main reasons. He contends: "The United States derives competitive advantages from its preponderant position, and globalization allows it to exploit these advantages, attracting economic activity and manipulating the international system to its benefit."[21]

Beckley believes that if the United States was in terminal decline, it would adopt neomercantilist economic policies and disengage from military commitments in Asia. "If however, the United States is not in decline, and if globalization and hegemony are the main reasons why, then the United States should do the opposite: it should contain China’s growth by maintaining a liberal international economic policy, and it should subdue China’s ambitions by sustaining a robust political and military presence in Asia."[21] Beckley believes that the United States benefits from being an extant hegemon—the US did not overturn the international order to its benefit in 1990, but rather, the existing order collapsed around it.

Scholars that are skeptical of the US' ability to maintain unipolarity include Robert Pape, who has calculated that "one of the largest relative declines in modern history" stems from "the spread of technology to the rest of the world".[22] Similarly, Fareed Zakaria writes, "The unipolar order of the last two decades is waning not because of Iraq but because of the broader diffusion of power across the world."[23] Paul Kipchumba in Africa in China's 21st Century: In Search of a Strategy predicts a deadly cold war between the US and China in the 21st century, and, if that cold war does not occur, he predicts China will supplant the US in all aspects of global hegemony.[24]

See also

China specific
Counter China


  1. ^ Rees-Mogg, William (3 January 2005). "This is the Chinese century". The Times. London. Retrieved 12 September 2009.
  2. ^ Elliott, Michael (2007-01-22). "China Takes On the World". Time Magazine.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Fredholm, Michael (2013). The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Geopolitics: New Directions, Perspectives, and Challenges. NIAS Press. ISBN 9788776941079.
  5. ^ Chomsky, Noam (2012-02-23). Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141967875.
  6. ^ Schneider, David K. "Archive: Shanghai Cooperation Organization - A league of Autocracies". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  7. ^ "AIIB Vs. NDB: Can New Players Change the Rules of Development Financing?". Caixin. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  8. ^ Cohn, Theodore H. (2016-05-05). Global Political Economy: Theory and Practice. Routledge. ISBN 9781317334811.
  9. ^ "China is spending nearly $1 trillion to rebuild the Silk Road". PBS. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  10. ^ "China's one belt, one road initiative set to transform economy by connecting with trading partners along ancient Silk Road". South China Morning Post. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  11. ^ "One Belt, One Road". Caixin Online. 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  12. ^ "RCEP: China, ASEAN to sign world's biggest trade pact today, leave door open for India". Business Today. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  13. ^ "RCEP: Asia-Pacific countries form world's largest trading bloc". BBC News. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  14. ^ "China signs huge Asia Pacific trade deal with 14 countries". CNN. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  15. ^ "China Touts Its Own Trade Pact as U.S.-Backed One Withers". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Beijing plans rival Asia-Pacific trade deal after Trump victory". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  17. ^ "China Eager to Fill Political Vacuum Created by Trump's TPP Withdrawal". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  18. ^ "World's biggest trade deal signed – and doesn't include US". South China Morning Post. 2020-11-15. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  19. ^ "RCEP, a huge victory in rough times".
  20. ^ "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2016" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  21. ^ a b Beckley, Michael (Winter 2011–2012). "China's Century? Why America's Edge Will Endure" (PDF). International Security. 36 (3): 41–78, p. 42. doi:10.1162/isec_a_00066. S2CID 57567205. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  22. ^ Pape, Robert (January–February 2009). "Empire Falls". The National Interest: 26. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  23. ^ Zakaria, Fareed (2009). The Post-American World. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 43. ISBN 9780393334807.
  24. ^ Kipchumba, Paul, Africa in China's 21st Century: In Search of a Strategy, Nairobi: Kipchumba Foundation, 2017, ISBN 197345680X ISBN 978-1973456803

Further reading

  • Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. March 2010. p. 7. ISBN 9781605207711.
  • Brown, Kerry (2017) China's World: The Global Aspiration of the Next Superpower. I. B. Tauris, Limited ISBN 9781784538095.
  • Brahm, Laurence J. (2001) China's Century: The Awakening of the Next Economic Powerhouse. Wiley ISBN 9780471479017.
  • Fishman, Ted (2006) China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World. Scribner ISBN 9780743257350.
  • Jacques, Martin (2012) When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. Penguin Books ISBN 9780143118008.
  • Overholt, William (1994) The Rise of China: How Economic Reform is Creating a New Superpower. W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 9780393312454.
  • Peerenboom, Randall (2008) China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest?. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199226122.
  • Pillsbury, Michael (2016) The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower. St. Martin's Griffin ISBN 9781250081346.
  • Schell, Orville (2014) Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Random House Trade Paperbacks ISBN 9780812976250.
  • Shenkar, Oded (2004) The Chinese Century: The Rising Chinese Economy and Its Impact on the Global Economy, the Balance of Power, and Your Job. FT Press ISBN 9780131467484.
  • Shambaugh, David (2014) China Goes Global: The Partial Power. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199361038.
  • Womack, Brantly (2010) China's Rise in Historical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ISBN 9780742567221.
  • Yueh, Linda (2013) China's Growth: The Making of an Economic Superpower. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199205783.
  • Dahlman, Carl J; Aubert, Jean-Eric. China and the Knowledge Economy: Seizing the 21st Century. WBI Development Studies. World Bank Publications. Accessed 30 January 2008.

External links