The Balance of Power in a Changing World

The global balance of power is changing at an unprecedented rate; chess pieces advancing in a perplexing brain game, where there are those who want to maintain their position at the top as indisputably first, as well as those deliberately changing the scene via the two variables in the eternal equation for power – that is, economic power, necessarily leading to the creation of a military power, which then goes on to exceed economic power. This then guarantees the service of economic and trade interests around the world.

Over the past three decades, China has particularly been able to face up to the United States economically, to the point that the phrase “monetary deterrence” came into use (as opposed to “nuclear deterrence”). But recently, China has almost reached the very top position with regard to military force, after so much global economic success.

Last week, the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, announced that China had reached a new stage in the development of ballistic missiles with its terrifyingly powerful Dongfeng-41 intercontinental missile, which has a range of 12,000 km (approximately 7,456 miles) and the ability to carry 10 nuclear warheads at once, each targeting a specific location with a speed of up to 767 mph. What exactly is China’s aim? Is China attempting to pry the global monopoly of power from the clutches of the United States, or is there a specific agenda starting progressively with the Asian continent and then later spreading to where China wants it to go?

It seems clear that Chinese leaders whom we have seen at their recent national conference determined to present their governance model to the rest of the world are beginning to get concerned about the events of the troubled world, and therefore may be heading toward changing the rules of world order, lest this world order changes them. This was explained by American political scientist John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, who asserts that China is not able to rise up peacefully.

However, as China begins to enter a stage of military might in a world raging over rockets, perhaps to avoid amassing ground armies, as has been the case in recent wars, China, we see, is moving into a new phase almost on a par with the ways of the great world powers in history, as it seeks to establish areas of influence and set up networks of friends and allies to establish a balance of power loyal to Beijing. This guarantees that China will gain achievements with respect to security, natural resources, the markets, reforms of old institutions and the formation of new institutions and establishing a regional system that serves Chinese interests and undermines the interests of its enemies.

Today China no longer looks forward to extending its influence to the Asian continent by land, sea and air. Instead, we see China in word and deed extending itself quite far, especially through the Silk Road initiative, which exerts influence in the waters of Asia and the Persian Gulf, reaching to the heart of the Middle East and into the African continent.

China sees the brown continent as virgin soil rich with treasures. Just as the Americans rushed there, it is just as much Beijing’s right to dive in on the opportunity. Such ventures are apparent in the military base at Djibouti, a recent intervention in Zimbabwe, etc.

One of the most important questions posed to a changing world is how much the military and economic rise of China will impact the United States’ place on the international map.

One of the best answers comes from professor Joseph Nye, a prominent American strategic thinker who coined the term “soft power.” Nye crudely suggests that the rise of China will bring an end to the traditional power America has wielded around the world since the end of World War II, and it will bring shifts on the international stage similar to the way America displaced Britain in the middle of the last century. In that vein, Robert Kagan in his daily column asserts that Chinese leadership looks to the world in the same way as Kaiser Wilhelm II did a century ago.

The era of Mao Tse Tung was the beginning of life for the Chinese nation of the future. One could say for certain that the time of Xi Jinping is a time of hitting the global ceiling, so that after the economic successes which allowed China to achieve its ranking by the International Monetary Fund during the era of Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao, and which allowed China to begin the internationalization of the yuan, we saw Xi strongly increase the military budget to modernize the army and develop proper naval weaponry.

One could say for certain that talk of China’s new ballistic missiles is a message to Washington to not even think about approaching the South China Sea, particularly given that the Chinese firmly believe that Washington wants to obstruct China’s continued stable development.

Confucian philosophy remains first and foremost for the Chinese, for what is the Silk Road and ballistic missiles if not “overcoming the obstacle” and an attempt, as Sun Tzu advised in his immortal work “The Art of War,” to win a battle without firing a shot until the enemy surrenders?

Does the rise of Beijing have anything to do with what is going on in Moscow and Washington? We’ll discuss this in the next article.

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