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Will China overtake America?

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People have been living under the American order since the end of the cold war. The liberal order is still working vigorously across the world. With China’s economic and geopolitical ascendance, the liberal order has been challenged. Social scientists are predicting that America is declining. It will not be wrong to say that the US-led order is not declining.

Indeed, China has an economy and military yet it cannot replace America as a superpower. No doubt emperors come and go, but America is not an emperor; it is a world system and the world system does not go like an emperor. However, the world cannot afford the end of the American era. 

Why does American Power Endure? 

America is dominating almost the whole globe. States and people are used to living in a democracy. It has secured partnerships with 60 countries in all regions of the world. In contrast to America, China has security alliances with few states that are next to nothing. America has the strongest army, advanced technology, and a stable economy in the world.

Indeed, China is rising speedily and creating predicaments for the USA yet it cannot overcome the USA. G. John Ikenberry writes in his article “American power will endure” that the American liberal order has several layers like an onion. So, these layers will take a long time to be removed from the whole world. People have adjusted themselves to live under the American order. Still, America has enormous dominance over the world. 

China Will Surpass the American Economy  

 China is the world’s second-largest economy. The world has seen a paradigm shift in the Chinese economy. Under one plus strategy China has diversified its trade across the world. It has launched striking projects like the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). There are more than 90 countries parts of this project.

It starts from China and connects almost the world. Kevin Delay writes that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) will surpass America by 2035. No doubt, he predicts rationally, China will be an economic giant soon. However, to remain a global power the USA need to have access to markets and resources in all corner of the world like China. 

War is inevitable  

China is a rising power and America is existing power, Thucydides’ Trap suggest when rising power challenge an existing power it results in war. So, many scholars have predicted that they cannot avoid war. In his book “Destined for War” : Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap, Graham Allison examines the record of 16 cases in which ascending power challenged an established power in the past 500 years.

He argues that war broke out in 12 out of 16. There is no denying the fact that currently both China and America are arch rivals of each other. They both have issues in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea, Taiwan, and so on. America is militarizing the Indian Ocean; it has formed a military alliance with India, Japan, and Australia namely Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or (Quad). Many military strategists have suggested that if war happens between the USA and China it will engulf the whole world in flames of fire. The war will be catastrophic and disastrous for the people of the world. 


In a nutshell, America is not declining. They are living in a fool’s paradise, and are saying that China will overtake the USA. America is leading the world system and that system can be challenged but cannot be defeated or replaced. Indeed, China’s economy and military can overtake the United States of America but it still will not become a global superpower.

Apart from that, there are more chances of war between two powerful states. One is led by the American liberal order and the second is led by China. Throughout history, power didn’t shift smoothly. As power transition theory holds that a war is likely when a rising country threatens to overtake an established country. 

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Jinsar Ali is a student of International Relations at NUML, Islamabad.

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