Who will be the leader in the world?
In the past, a strong army and manufacturing meant power. Military strength, economic strength and population prospects will affect the hard power of a country. Only with hard power, the country can not become the world hegemon. The soft power factors such as finance, science and technology, and politics will all affect the world pattern. Does China have the opportunities to challenge the United States? Sino-US competition, will anyone benefit from their fight?
Hard power gap narrows between China and the United States
Military strength is the main source of traditional hard power, and the United States is the leader. In 2018, US military spending reached US$610 billion, accounting for 35% of the total global military expenditure. China is close behind, with military spending also reaching $228 billion. GDP is more reflective of the overall development of a country. The US economy still ranks first in the world, and China ranks second. China’s economic growth rate far exceeds that of the United States. In the past 30 years, the gap between the two countries’ world GDP has fallen from 23% to 8.7%. China development is warning the risk of the US being overtaken, and the trade war is exactly what the United States is trying to change.
Soft power, the status of the United States and Europe is difficult to shake
The soft power of a country depends on its culture, politics, and policy. Specifically, soft power reflects the relationship of a country in the international community and between different countries. After World War II, the United States dominated the international social order. Europe has far-reaching colonial influence and is in a higher position in soft power. At the same time, the United States is also better at using its own hard and soft advantages to expand its influence.
Using soft power to build a “first island chain” to contain China is an example of US soft power. In order to prevent China from expanding its influence on the ocean and, if necessary, restricting the actions of the Chinese navy, the United States has built a maritime defence chain through its allies. Among them, the first island chain is the forefront of the competition. Allies in the first island chain include Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other countries in Southeast Asia. If the tariff war is the first battlefield of Sino-US relations, the science and technology war is the second battlefield, and the third battlefield is the battle for regional allies. Breaking through the first island chain is crucial to China.
The world pattern is not only polarized
Looking forward to the future world pattern, Sino-US competition is not the only theme. The traditional strength of Europe, the power Russia, Australia, and even the city of Singapore will play different roles. However, from the perspective of hard power, the Sino-US dispute will continue for several years.
On the other hand, from the perspective of population prospects, countries such as India, Indonesia, and Brazil will likely become dark horses and challenge the status of world hegemons. However, these countries still lack strength now.