Many superpowers that dominated the world politically and economically came and went throughout history, including the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Umayyad Empire, Abbasid Empire, Ottoman Empire, Mongol Empire, and British Empire. In today’s globe, the United States is the hegemon, or world power, that dominates not only politically and economically, but also culturally through movies, media, music, and literature. After World War I, the British Empire lost its status as the world’s superpower as a result of the war’s economic and political consequences. The Americans filled that void by joining and finishing the war, assisting Europe in its recovery by funding reconstruction projects in war-torn Europe, and expanding their muscle around the world.

Many people today predict that the globe will see another transition in hegemonic power in the twenty-first century. Many people feel that China, with its expanding economic and military prowess, will soon take over the hegemony from the United States. For the past four decades, China has experienced remarkable economic expansion. According to government statistics, China has been the world’s fastest-growing economy since the 1980s, with an annual average growth of 10% from 1978 to 2005. Between 2000 and 2014, China provided $75 billion in aid and lent $275 billion in aid, according to Help data. During the pandemic in 2020, China donated medical supplies to 150 countries and dispatched medical teams to 27 countries to strengthen its soft power. During the 2018 China-Africa Cooperation Forum, China pledged $60 billion in financial support, demonstrating its growing influence in Africa. The Belt and Road Program (BRI) is a $1 trillion global infrastructure initiative led by China that aims to promote economic development in 70 countries.

China is an economic and military power with a significant worldwide impact that should not be overlooked, but can it truly become a superpower? Is China capable of becoming a global superpower and displacing the United States, as many believe? Can China afford to keep that position?

China must address numerous challenges and modify its status quo in order to become a superpower, which it is unlikely to do at this time. China’s ideology and political structure is one of the major issues preventing it from becoming a superpower. China is a one-party communist state with limited political engagement. The United States, its opponent (if we can call it that), is a democratic and liberal country with a much larger political engagement. These two can’t compete; a Communist China can’t compete with a democratic America, and democracy will always win in the world arena.

Another factor is cultural influence; the globe has grown so globalized that it appears like the entire world is contained within a single room. Through film, music, and literature, the United States used technology and globalization to spread American culture over the world. This caused the rest of the world to sympathize with the US. China’s cultural impact has yet to spread to its neighbours.

Another challenge China faces is the fact that it has numerous disagreements and shaky relations with its neighbours. The South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are examples of China’s bad relations with its neighbours, also its involvement in border disputes with India and Japan. A superpower must have control and influence over its neighbours while simultaneously living in peace with them. For example, the United States has no boundary issues with its neighbours and enjoys good relations with them. China may be capable of becoming a superpower, but the question is whether it can sustain that position and finance all of the costs that come with it. To remain a global powerhouse, significant resources should be allocated to critical areas such as defence, education, social security, and health.

The US spends roughly $705 billion on defence to maintain its military superiority and 800 military sites across the world. The United States spends $1 trillion on social security and $3.8 trillion on health care to keep unemployment and poverty from destabilizing the country (medicare). China spends a large amount on these areas as well; it is estimated that China spends $252 billion on defence, $1 trillion on social security, and $1 trillion on health care. However, these amounts are insufficient to sustain China’s role as a global superpower. Many experts feel that the United States cannot afford to preserve its status as a global powerhouse, let alone compete with a rising China in key sectors such as technology, artificial intelligence, and innovation. China is a powerful and influential country; economically, it is the world’s second-richest country, and it spends the second most on the military. There is little doubt that China will play an important role in the future and help to shape the globe, but it will take a long time, if not this century, for China to become a worldwide superpower.