Do we still live in a multipolar world?

After more than three decades of American efforts to establish and consolidate a unipolar international order, we are witnessing signs of the deterioration of the American-centric international order and the formation of a new international order.

Evidence, facts and developments in global arena confirm that the conflict between the United States and the European Union countries on one hand, and both China and Russia on the other hand, revolves around something that no longer exists, which is the world order that Washington wants to strengthen, and Beijing and Moscow are working to change it. In his speech before the Davos Economic Forum on May 26, 2022 in Switzerland, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz uttered the word “multipolarity” that reveals the West’s recognition of the need for a multipolar world, and when the leader of a European country talks about multipolarity, he takes into account the restructuring of international relations.

Several voices are currently calling for a “multipolar” world instead of a “unipolar” led by the United States, which has dominated the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

These calls come mainly from the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Beijing agrees with Moscow on this proposal, but with great caution as China cares more about fairness in international relations, non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for national sovereignty

On the other hand, western countries, whether members of NATO or the European Union and even in South Korea, Japan and Australia, do not agree with this proposition in light of a clear pledge from President Joe Biden that his country will remain on top of the world as long as he is in the White House.

What are the political, economic and military indicators that Moscow and Beijing rely on when talking about a multipolar world? How can the United States and its allies impede any shift away from the “American century”, as American nationalists like to call it?

According to the testimony of the American elite itself, the United States is regressing in all fields compared to the Chinese rise, especially in the economic field, and the sharp competition with Russia in the military and security field. For example, the average growth in the Chinese economy has reached about 9.3 percent since the United States recognized China in 1979.

Although the current economic figures issued by the World Bank before the Covid-19  pandemic in 2019  said that the Chinese national income reached about 13.4 trillion dollars, and the US national income 20.5  trillion dollars, the growth rate in the Chinese economy during the past years was not less than 6.9 percent, while the growth in the US economy during the last three years did not exceed 3.2 percent.

China also surpasses the United States and its Western allies in economic partnership with various regions of the world, as it has become the first trading partner for Africa, Latin America and the Gulf region. Over the past years, Chinese companies have succeeded in obtaining new contracts for oil exploration, extraction and refining in the countries of these regions. It has also launched several major initiatives to protect its interests in the region, as it has integrated the largest number of Middle Eastern countries into the Silk Road Initiative, the Maritime Silk Road Initiative, and the Belt and Road Initiative, all of which are initiatives to invest in the infrastructure and technology of countries with which China has extensive economic and trade relations. China has signed strategic partnership and free trade agreements with several countries in these regions. It was also active in the field of arms exports and military cooperation relations with them.

Moreover, China competes with the United States in the field of nuclear submarines and intercontinental missiles, but even surpasses it in the new “sliding weapons”, and it began to approach the United States in space and aircraft carriers after China made, with purely Chinese hands, the third aircraft carrier “Fujian”.

As for the US-Russian rivalry in the geopolitical and military sphere, it is almost everywhere in the world, from the Indian and Pacific oceans to the “back garden” of the United States, where Russia is present in Cuba, Venezuela and the socialist countries of Latin America.

Despite all that is said about China’s economic power and Russia’s military and nuclear superiority, talking about the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world requires a “deep look” at the other camp led by the United States. The United States is still the primary economy ally of the European Union, and it is the economic powerhouse.

It is also the political and military ally of Japan, which is the third economy in the world, and the military and political partner of Germany, which is the fourth economy in the world, and the United Kingdom, which has become the sixth economy after India, which occupies the fifth economy, and all of them are friends and allies of the United States, that leads NATO, which consists of 32  countries after it annexed Finland and Sweden. The United States eventually formed the “Aukus” alliance which comprises – beside it – the United Kingdom and Australia,  and “Quad” alliance which is a strategic security dialogue between the United States, Australia, India, and Japan.

According to 2021 figures, the United States continues to spend twice as much on armaments than China and Russia together, as Washington has spent in the current budget about 770 billion dollars, while Beijing’s military budget is 290 billion dollars, while Moscow has spent only 70 billion dollars.

Every country has the right to compete, and search for a better and better place among nations, but the transformation of competition into a conflict will not be in the interest of any of the parties, regardless of the names, whether it is unipolar or multipolar.

Amr Wagdy
Amr Wagdy
Amr Wagdy Omran is a Human Rights Expert. He has more than 14 years experience in the field of human rights. He has a Bachelor degree in Political science from Cairo University, and a Master degree in Democracy and Human Rights from Saint Joseph University in Lebanon.