21st Century Chinese Hegemony in the International System

China has made monumental strides in integrating itself into the international system through geopolitical blocs, the Belt and Road initiative, establishing institutions in other regions, and increasing its industrial capacity.

Abstract: The Western European Region has historically sat at the summit of international affairs but was overcome by its own colony, the United States of America (USA), in the former half of the twentieth century. While the European Union still stands as a great power in the global scheme, new data implies that the East Asian region will take the reins on European affairs and commerce on its path to global hegemony. Since the end of the Second World War, The United States has been the most significant global power in the international sphere. With the globe’s largest economy, the US dominates in finance, military, leadership, business, and international trade and institutions. However, the presence of American hegemony has been slowly declining with a shift of power balances in the international system from Western supremacy to East Asian ascendancy. The East Asian region has become the most important economic area in the world. The US’ top competitor, China, has made milestones in its economic, military, diplomatic, and technological power. Currently, China is the leading international exporter of goods, surpassing the US a few years prior. In the last decade, China has made monumental strides in integrating itself into the international system through geopolitical blocs, the Belt and Road initiative, establishing institutions in other regions, and increasing its industrial capacity. It is likely that by the 22nd century, China and the East Asian region will have overcome Europe and the bulk of Africa if their strategies continue to move undisturbed, ultimately leading to Chinese hegemony. To what extent are the economic pursuits of China facilitating Chinese hegemony in Europe and eventually the international system?


Chinese Rise to Economic Superpower vs. U.S. & EU | Source: Statista 2023

While it is clear that today’s Western order has long since been established and accepted into the global system, its durability has been questioned in the previous decades. Today, we are seeing international affairs transform to adjust to the “comparative decline of the ‘old superpower’, i.e., the US, and the rise of China as a ‘new superpower’ that is increasingly capable of challenging America as the dominant hegemony, not just in Asia but also in other parts of the world,” (Lambert, 2023, p.6). Since the dawn of the 2000s, China has assumed the hegemonic role in the Asian region and is now showing a great deal of potential towards global hegemon status, at a rapid rate. The country’s economic prowess is seemingly targeting economically vulnerable areas of the world, such as Europe and Africa.

To understand the contemporary global liberal order led by the United States, one must understand the movements following the conclusion of World War II. It is known that the original hegemonic region of the world was Europe, spearheaded by Britain for centuries. Following World War II (WWII), Britain proved faulty in its ability to regulate the international system especially while facing economic challenges from the United States and Germany. After WWII, a war grounded in Western Europe, the region was left in a complete reconstructive period, which championed the US as the strongest remaining power. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the US immediately swooped in with a variety of commitments to autonomous states and new reforms to shape an international system that strategically advantaged them. US hegemony was even more amplified following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As economies continue to emerge worldwide, the unipolar system implemented after WWII “is being replaced by a more global balance of power, and more precisely, a more multipolar international order is in the making,” (Lambert, 2023, p. 5).

The so-called glory days of US hegemony began in the 1950s, as it was responsible for half of the world’s gross product and “sixty percent of the world’s manufacturing production,” (Du Boff, 2003). Around 47 percent of the globe’s direct investment stock was American. Within this period, it is noted that “Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, [had] a combined gross domestic product seven-tenths that of the United States.” (Du Boff, 2003). Other attributes of its economic dominance included “producing 40% of the world’s product and being responsible for 82% of major inventions, discoveries, and innovations. Its businesses controlled 59% of the world’s oil reserves… [with] a monopoly of atomic weapons,” (Keohane, 1991, pg.436).

While these accolades illustrate the US’ undenied spot at the top, numerous downsides foreshadowed their temporary hegemonic power. To begin, the US was “unable to prevent communist revolutions in China and Cuba, and suffered a costly defeat in Vietnam,” (Keohane, 1991, pg.436). Around this same time, the US engaged itself in the Korean War as a means to prevent communism from spreading to the Southern region of Korea. The Northern area of Korea was backed by China and the war escalated far more than originally planned, which resulted in the US withdrawing its troops in 1949 and signing a ceasefire treaty with both China and North Korea in 1953. This was an incredible win for China and an emasculating global perspective on the world’s hegemon. There were also several disputes about trade, finances, and oil within international organizations like the United Nations and NATO where autonomous allies would not take heed of US advice, foreshadowing an increasing disobedience to American order. Not to mention America’s current financial situation with the Congressional Budget Office of the US claiming that “current projections, [suggest] US federal debt may rise from at pay with GDP (2022) to 180 percent of GDP in 2051,” (2022).

EU views as China Hegemon | Source: Statista 2023

 Historically, America was originally a branch broken off from the British tree, but it is now Europe that is dependent on America to keep them stable. In sectors such as defense and economy, US’ power and influence decline is synonymous with Europe’s. We have seen this connection numerous times throughout the fluctuations of American influence. When the stock market crashed in the US, also known as the 2008 global financial crisis, it “severely undermined the European economy… with huge debt levels, high unemployment and low growth,” (Liu, 2016, p. 38).  It is also known that “for decades, Europeans have counted on their American ally to provide military security through NATO,” (Ham, 2011, p.108).  In terms of European economics, the EU is facing its own internal hardships with the complications of continuing the single currency, power imbalances, economic stagnation, and a deteriorating geopolitical context. In the case of China, we are seeing Chinese institutions and ports being established all over the European region, not to mention the Belt and Road Initiative of 2013 that has overcome much of Eurasia. In the modern day, the structure of the EU is relatively weak as there is a lack of “military capabilities and strategic vision to deal with the dawning global environment… [as well as] no shared notion of ‘European interests,’” (Ham, 2011, p.113). These issues briefly explain the foreseeable Chinese takeover of the European region amid the fall of American hegemony.

While the 1950s era was a glorious time for the United States, this period for China was suffused with tumultuous movements as the country was preceding a communist revolution, reconstruction, consolidation, and law reform period. However, the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 immediately strained their relationship and set the stage for “several decades of limited U.S. relations with mainland China,” (CFR, 2023).  By 1953, China had begun its transition to socialism through its First Five-Year Plan which prompted China’s expeditious industrialization period. This plan also formulated Soviet-Chinese relations as “the Soviet Union provided both material aid and extensive technical advice on [the plan’s] planning and execution,” (Britannica, 2023). This is important to note as this assistance was the inception of modern-day Russian-China relations and the division of US-China relations.

In modern times, the US is still the most powerful country, but its persistence in interfering “in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain, and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars,  [brings] harm to the international community,” (MFAPRC, 2023) making it increasingly unpopular. In contrast, China has been building its network, dominance, and alliances over the past few decades with a centric goal of becoming the world’s new hegemon. The United States is indeed the pinnacle of military capability, but when analyzing contemporary geostrategy, economic power is the true key to controlling the international system. China’s economic strategy is pummeling Europe and the US as the country has already surpassed both in many economic sectors. Countries that have normally allied with the US may find themselves “likely to collaborate more with China economically, and even prospectively challenge the US over strategic leadership,” (Lambert, 2023, p.5). Not to mention, with the emergence of BRICS centered around a Russian-Chinese core, the United States nor the EU are capable of overpowering the two on a technological, economic, or defense level. As predicted by Standard Chartered Bank of London, China will be the #1 economy by 2030, with a GDP of $64.2 trillion, while the US sits at #3 with $31 trillion.

China has taken several unique approaches towards hegemony which have been successful thus far. These include the emergence of the BRICS bloc, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the establishment of ports in Europe. In the past, the commotion in the international system consistently dealt with the United States, European, and Soviet Union affairs, but the collapse of the USSR and ever-weakening American and European order has provided an open window for Chinese Hegemony. The Western command will be difficult to overturn, but China’s rapid reform proves its determination to apex the international scheme.

When evaluating the prospect of China becoming the new world hegemon, many do not take serious consideration. This is due to the idea that the United States is at an uncompetitive spot in the international system, but one must look into the past to strategically foresight the future. For centuries, Britain was the ultimate power whose colonialism stretched far throughout the four hemispheres. The European region is the true creator of written history and civilization and is still a major power today. However, much of its current success is dependent on the United States and China. It was not until WWII that a wedge in global power was created and the US was able to swiftly assume the responsibility of global hegemon. Flash forward to today, the US’ tendency to spread itself too thin has created various wedges for other powers to sneak in and overcome. This paper explains how China is taking this very opportunity.

Research and Methodology

Gathered in November 2023, the trusted sources used to support this research are from online, free, and publicly available databases. All initiatives, strategies, and plans included in this paper have been active from the late 20th century to the present. With the combination of qualitative, survey, and exploratory research along with inductive reasoning, my research aim is to analyze the economic movements of China and how it has strategically formulated Chinese hegemony in Europe and the international system in the coming decades.

Source: Beijing Review

First, I interpreted the rise of the United States as the global hegemon despite originally being a project of the British. The evolution of the British-American relationship remains a common theme throughout the paper as it was interesting to note the paradigm of global power shifts with the emergence of Chinese hegemony. I included various statistics confirming American hegemony in the 1950s while comparing it to the Chinese position at this time to assert how far China has come in the international scheme of great power. Then, I exposed America’s shortcomings in connection with China’s influence over North Korea to expose China’s first “win” in response to American insecurity.  Following this, I included America’s current behavior to foreshadow the fall of its power by the latter half of this century.

I then go back to explain the rise of the Chinese Government since the 1950s and its success in the previous decades to portray its elegant and swift rise to power. Including the Soviets’ contribution to this success provided a basis to elaborate on the mutually beneficial Chinese-Russian relationship as well as the emergence of BRICS. I used reliable sources that have been measuring China’s linear movement in overcoming its surrounding regions, with Europe being one of the primary attainment goals.

This allowed me to delve into the importance of Europe in this matter as, according to the Rimland theory, whoever controls the regions in the rimland, will control the world. While the origin of America was codependent on Britain’s supremacy, the roles have reversed in modern times with America as the hegemon with vast control over the Western hemisphere. However, with the predicted trajectory of modern America, the fall of its hegemony would immediately correspond with the fall of Europe, a great victory for the Chinese agenda. I included primary and secondary research on European Union dilemmas and their dependency on American aid, economics, trade, and defense. With this research, I was able to formulate an educated prediction of European welfare amid a global power shift from America to China. I also briefly touched on the economic initiatives of China such as the BRI, BRICS, and the establishment of Chinese institutions in Europe to widen the readers’ view on the Chinese strategy to surpass European power.

 While conducting this research, I used the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework by analyzing international actors, historical backgrounds, institutional settings, incentive structures, policies, and more to develop the subsequent Chinese hegemony. Taking the most influential initiatives such as the Belt and Road initiative, the formation of the BRICS Bloc, and establishing Chinese institutions beyond their immediate scope, I was able to examine how each strategy has contributed to China’s successful economic position and hegemonic prowess. I conclude with supporting evidence of Chinese economic strategy to further convince the reader that Chinese dominance in Europe is forthcoming, thus generating a new world order summited by China.

Contemporary Chinese Power

Today, it is clear that China is far greater than its tumultuous past and is underway to become a formidable global force. In comparison to American economic power in the 1950s, it is as if China has mirrored these successes today. Having quadrupled the size of its economy since the late 1970s, China now “has become one of the world’s major manufacturing centers and consumed roughly a third of the global supply of iron, steel, and coal while accumulating massive foreign reserves,” (Ikenberry, 2008, p.26). The country has increased its military spending to over 18 percent yearly while extending its diplomatic ties to Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Originally portrayed as an emerging market, China has now taken over the international stage “as both a military and an economic rival–heralding a profound shift in the distribution of global power,” (Ikenberry, 2008, p.26).

China-European Land Sea Express Route | Source: Research Gate

Before, onlookers questioned the importance of China in the future of international relations, but now this is not the case. By joining crucial organizations such as the World Trade Organizations (WTO) and BRICS, China has maintained its position as a rising great power in the international political system. The country continues to “sustain impressive economic growth and is projected to double the size of the American economy by 2025, while the United States and other status quo market economies recover from the shock of the Western Financial Crisis of 2008,” (Farrell, 2015, p.3). The BRI project of 2013, acts as a modern-day Silk Road giving China a huge advantage in economic influence and networking. Since 2016, China has set up 31 container seaport terminals in the European region (See APPENDIX E) widening the scope of maritime control in the area. For the purposes of this discussion, what will be examined in this paper are Chinese institutions and ports in Europe, the BRI, and other Chinese economic pursuits that are inevitably leading to a transition in global influence.

The Fall of Europe and the Rise of China

The European region has been facing trying times, with many issues in terms of cooperation, economic growth, and currency. These issues contribute to the constant looming fear of member states leaving the EU, especially following BREXIT. China is well aware of these weaknesses, hence its increased interest in Europe. As a result, the country has implemented several plans to maintain economic control over the region. These plans include the Chinese 16+1 format, Chinese commercial port investments, the BRI, and induction of European members into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Chinese 16+1 format of 2012 engages China with 16 European countries as a unique approach to regional cooperation. This format promotes Chinese-European business and investment relations through the Belt and Road Initiative and enhances collaboration in infrastructure, transportation logistics, and investments. China is also bolstering goals in cultural exchanges and education by enhancing tourism and sending and welcoming students abroad. Some infrastructures that have been produced from this cooperation include the Budapest-Belgrade railway connecting Hungary and Serbia and the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Route.

Chinese firms currently have “been developing economic interests in ports in European countries, including Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Italy,” (Jacobs, 2023, p.1). Specifically in terms of Greece, it is known that China Ocean Shipping Company, Limited (COSCO) now holds one of the largest shares of this salient port that acts as a maritime crossroad between Europe and Asia. This port also has routes to the Middle East and Africa, due to its unique position in the heart of the Mediterranean. The Piraeus Port creates a maritime road to assist the BRI. Unexpectedly, the prevalence of COSCO in the Piraeus Port is embraced by the Greeks as it gave “scholarships to employee’s children…, created more job opportunities, and blended Eastern wisdom with Greek culture,” (Ran, 2023). Amid the Chinese takeover, the port’s efficiency has increased significantly with faster intakes of cargo, shipment times, maintenance and appliances. It is noted that in 2018, “the port’s container throughput increased to 4.91 million TEUs (Twenty-foot equivalent unit) under COSCO’s management from 680,000 TEUs before the Chinese company arrived,” (Ran, 2023). COSCO’s management has increased the crane loading and unloading speeds to the #1 velocity in European ports with 27 TEUs per hour, while originally 15 per hour. This year, the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has established the best performance numbers in its history with, “profits before taxes increased by 48.8%, totalling US$52 million, compared to US$35 million in the same period in 2022,” (Konton, 2023). Today, China holds 31 European port terminals and this number continues to grow as Europe is in dire need of economic reform and assistance.

Countries of the BRI | Source: Green Finance & Development Center

The AIIB, a Chinese initiative, currently has 26 European member states with 18 being in the EU. It is presumed that this bank is an “alternative to the US-led post-WWII Bretton Woods System,” (Lambert, 2023, p. 11). The AIIB is a multilateral development bank whose mission is towards the prosperous economic development of Asia, at the expense of other regions’ money and institutions hence the heavy dependence on the European member states. Essentially, China is offering loans to European member states as a means to bolster their own development agenda. It is estimated that China has invested over 250 billion euros into Europe for its inter-regional connectivity plans. These investments are not just ports and trade routes, but “nuclear power stations, theaters, historic buildings, football teams, and more,” (Haralambides, 2019). It seems as if the Chinese are more keen to engage in dialogue with the “European South ” of Europe, than those who are more financially plentiful. This strategy has made many believe in China’s economic strategies as debt-trap diplomacy, where China is “extending excessive loans to borrowers… [knowing] that the debtor will be unable to repay. The alleged aim is to extract economic or political concessions from the debtor country and/or to eventually swap debt with equity,” (Haralambides, 2019). We have seen this in the case of China’s control of the Piraeus Port and numerous European investments in the AIIB.

The 2013 Belt and Road Initiative

Despite the creation of Chinese economic isolation tactics by the US such as the Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP) also coined as the “Obama Doctrine,” and Biden’s “Build Back Better World” (B3W), China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has prospered in the global arcade. The BRI mirrors the efforts of the ancient Silk Road, connecting China with Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. While this ambitious initiative portrays incredible growth for China and the Asian region, it is also seen as a debt trap for borrowing governments and a decoy masking Chinese-led military expansion and economic development.

APPENDIX C: Source: Leisden Asia Centre

As seen in the appendix C, the BRI has a hefty presence in East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. Many are under the assumption that the BRI is simply an extensive trade route for Chinese economic advancement. However, Xi Jinping’s[3] visions includes, “creating a vast network of railways,, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossing…to expand the international use of Chinese currency,” (McBride et. al., 2023). In addition to these enterprises, China has made monumental efforts to create jobs abroad and enhance the use of the Chinese 5 tech network. As of August 2023, there have been 155 countries-accounting for three-fourths of the world’s population and over 50 percent of global GDP- that have signed on to projects. Appendix E shows an accurate representation of what parts of the world have joined the Belt and Road Initiative.

APPENDIX E: Chinese port investments in Europe | Source: Maritime Economics and Logistics

With efforts to promote a more assertive China and pushback on U.S. influence and hegemony, China hopes the BRI provides avenues to “develop new trade linkages, cultivate export markets, boost Chinese incomes, and export China’s excess productive capacity,” (McBride et. al., 2023). It is proven that the BRI has been successful in completely reconstructing previous trade routes and allowing China to be at the center rather than the U.S. and Europe. However, the BRI has not been immune to criticism with a rising number of low-income BRI countries voicing their struggle “to repay loans associated with the initiative, spurring a wave of debt crises,” (McBride et. al., 2023). There have also been spurs about the BRI’s contribution to climate change with half of its spending consisting of nonrenewable energy investment. The BRI has its benefits and malefits, but its exponential growth is a direct threat to U.S. and European influence in the international system. 

The Emergence and Effects of the BRICS Bloc

Created in 2009, BRICS is an intergovernmental organization consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa while spearheaded by China. It is evident that BRICS’ efforts are to counter the West economically and politically, specifically the Group of Seven (G7) countries- the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K, considering their rising tensions with Russia and China[4]. The G7 “is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies that meet annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy,” (Lieberman, 2023). The five BRICS nations know that extending their membership will greatly advance their goal of overcoming G7 influence, hence their August Summit of 2023. The summit was held for the 14 countries who formally applied to join BRICS. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be joining the bloc in January 2024. What these countries have in common is that they are massive energy and oil exporting countries which certainly help BRICS achieve its global advancement goals.

BRICS is a direct contributor to a transition in geopolitical powers, tantalizing the influence and capacity of the US and Europe each day. A clear example of BRICS’ goal to overcome western hegemony was entailed in its discussions at the summit of 2023 about beginning the process of de-dollarization “to reduce the reliance on the U.S. dollar and promote the use of national currencies in international trade,” (O’Kane, 2023). However, the bloc has many constraints and future obstacles.

Firstly, BRICS has existed since 2009, but is just beginning to truly gain influence in the international system. Since US and Western influence has dominated the globe for several centuries, it may take decades for countries to truly transition from its accustomed western grasp, to an eastern approach. Secondly, the debt-trap set by China as a facade of increasing economic prosperity in other countries is already evident and being detested. Countries will become wary of the bloc and China, if financial crisis matters continue to create debt-holes for nations. Third, BRICS may create a power vacuum of other states who want to join the effort in changing the global narratives, which may work to counter BRICS itself. Some groups of emerging economies that have already been rumored include MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey) as well as Poland, Thailand, Nigeria, and Argentina who seem to continually be left out of the global power discussion despite showing great economic promise. Lastly, and presumably the most wild card event of the BRICS emergence, is the case of a possible World War 3 or a repeat of the Cold War, but between the US and China. It is clear that the BRICS alliance focuses greatly on countering US hegemony and with these new discussions of changing the international currency from USD, creating trade routes and blocs excluding the US, and taking part in war alliances that are in contrast to Western aims, may very likely create an abruption in the global system. BRICS dominance equates to Chinese hegemony as the bloc is driven by Chinese economic strategies and military capabilities. The group is determined to lead the global south economically, while overtaking Europe in the process.

Supplementary Chinese Economic Pursuits and Advantages

BRICS and the BRI are not the only contributors to the coming Chinese hegemony. The country has been working in a plethora of areas to push its hegemonic agenda. China’s vision of international order amid U.S. power decline changes the hegemonic token as one earned by master economics rather than military capability and control. The following is a list of Chinese economic pursuits in the global system that is advancing its likelihood to global power in the coming years.

Beijing has pursued several attempts to emphasize the attractiveness of China in terms of culture, landscape, and education to advance the globalization of China in the international scheme. For example, they have begun establishing Confucius Institutes in every continent of the world to promote the study and knowledge of Chinese customs. Admittedly since 2011, the “China Radio International is broadcasting in English, 24 hours a day, and the number of foreign students enrolled in China’s universities has tripled from 36,000 to more than 100,000 over the past decade, with more than 75% of these students coming from Asia,” (Ham, 2011, p.110). Around 500,000 foreign students are now pursuing education in China with this number increasing yearly by 10%. Chinese citizens themselves are now climbing the list as the most well-traveled citizens which increases cultural exchange and image for China.

In 2014, “Li Keqiang visited 13 countries over the course of five diplomatic trips abroad and signed more than 250 agreements on trade and economic cooperation with a combined value of about $140 billion,” (Beijing Review, 2015, p.19).  A few years following, the Chinese Renminbi became the 5th international reserve currency. Just last year, the Chinese yuan became the 5th most traded currency in the global foreign exchange market.

In regard to technology, China is making massive strides in becoming a technological superpower. Artificial intelligence is the key to the digital evolution which is spearheading the modern technological revolution era that the developing world is currently in. China has strenuous amounts of data and technological advancements which allows AI to thrive. Governmental plans and processes have already begun to meet AI requirements, suggesting an AI race between the US and China in the coming years. China already has huge technology giants such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, SenseTime, and WeChat which are pummeling American technological statistics. Not to mention the new Temu site which serves as an international shipment hub that directly counters Amazon. Most importantly, China has Huawei, a 5G network company based in Shenzhen which sets China in an undisputed leading position in terms of 5G telecommunications.

While China’s economic pursuits may be the most notable, it is also building up its military capabilities. As of today, “China has the largest navy with 730 military vessels, [while the US] has 484 naval vessels,” (Wisevoter, 2023). The country is obtaining more advanced frigates, flight engines, aircraft carriers, submarines and more. Not to mention its unwavering military alliance with Russia, who has proven its military aggressivity time and time again. The US has split the world into military command districts which strategically coincides with the main world regions. China is beginning to do the same, with its overseas military bases in Cuba, Cambodia, Djibouti, and Tajikistan. China is hunkering down on all aspects of power and is swiftly making its way to world domination one region at a time.


China’s efforts in recent decades have proven its tenacity to become the global hegemon. The declining economic performance of the US and Europe create an opening for China to play to its strengths. Many believe that the US is the everlasting global power, but if one recalls the trends of historic geopolitics, it is evident that “hegemonic competition is cyclical and inevitable, as rising powers supplant enfeebled ones in a Darwinian struggle for survival.” (Beeson, 2006, p.543). Despite the reconstruction period following WWII which championed the US as the formidable global hegemon, it is clear that, “the West. including the US itself, is not anymore strong enough today, neither economically nor technologically, to ‘overpower’ a new adversary bloc from within the ‘Global South’ nurtured by ‘emerging markets,’” (Lambert, 2023, p. 5).

With Chinese hegemony already being prevalent in the Indo-pacific region, China has begun its expansion plans towards the Western hemisphere. While it is clear that Europe is of premier interest to China,  the internal issues and lack of a cohesive, united front by the European Union make the region attractive and seemingly easy to overcome for China. Additionally, the European economy is currently facing “huge debt levels, high employment and low growth,” (Liu, 2016). The prevalence of Chinese vigor over the 30+ European ports and being Europe’s largest export market, entails a expansionist relationship between China and Europe in the future. The emergence of the BRI is a huge growth engine for European prosperity and they must collaborate with China to proliferate its economy, this includes eliminating “economic frictions and trade protectionism tendencies,” (Liu, 2016). The ever-weakening euro currency, along with BRICS’ plans of de-dollarization and the Chinese yuan’s recognition in the global scheme foreshadows a Chinese dominated world.

US hegemonic decline and Chinese economic determination provide a clear trajectory for Chinese hegemony in the coming years. While a transition in geopolitical power may be inevitable in the future, it does not necessarily entail catastrophe. China’s efforts in inter-regional connectivity has created many positive outcomes for Global South countries in dire need for support. Additionally, China’s soft power approach presupposed a more militarily peaceful international system. The global narratives in international relations have morphed into economic power over military capability, where “governments may opt to turn more to economic statecraft rather than military build-up in defense and pursuit of national interests,” (Lambert, 2023, p. 7). As we begin to transition out of a war-like international system, it is up to the global masters to decide what happens next.

[1] Current President of the People’s Republic of China

[2] Following Russia’s suspension from the G7, then G8 due to its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea,the G7’s future has been challenged by continued tensions with Russia, and, increasingly, China… The G7 has imposed coordinated sanctions on Russia…, including a cap on the price of Russian Oil. The group also launched a major global infrastructure program to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative,” (Liberman, Council on Foreign Relations 2023)

Alexia J. Butler
Alexia J. Butler
Alexia J. Butler is currently a SIT's Graduate Institute graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Science with a certificate in Global Peace and Security. Butler has done numerous research articles on international power dynamics, climate change, sustainability, and human rights violations.