This essay will examine the rise of China as a global power by applying traditional realist and critical theory. Furthermore, this essay will discuss how China has become the second largest global economy as well as a superpower. It will also discuss how they managed to influence developing countries in Africa, as well as leaving the United State of America (U.S.) fighting to keep its position as a global superpower.
China’s rise of a global economy has resulted in securing position to become the second largest world superpower. China has the world’s largest population, as well as rising living standards and the middle class. However, being one of the world economic superpowers has influenced China to also become a global power, “With a population of 1.3 billion, China recently became the world’s second-largest economy. It contributed 39% to world growth in 2016, according to the IMF, and its influence in the global economy is growing” (World Economic Forum, 2017).
China’s influence in the global economy is still growing. Today China dominates trade of resources within most African countries that will continue to benefit China in a globally.
Chinese Entrepreneur has been trading in developing countries such as Congo, with high demands of electronic devices. The Chinese government, as well as Chinese businesses, have managed to import raw materials from Congo and sell it back to the Africans as electronic goods like Mobile phones, radios, and television. “The Chinese see Africa as both a place to obtain the raw materials needed to fuel its manufacturing-driven economy and as an important emerging market in which to sell its products” (Pulitzer Center, 2013).
Moreover, countries like Congo have natural supplies of useful raw minerals such as cobalt which is used to produce electronic goods, as well as other raw minerals such as diamond, gold, and copper. (En.wikipedia.org, n.d.). Additionally, China’s annual trade with Africa was estimated at 166billion dollars in 2013, Today it has not only dominated America’s trade with Africa but also the global economy, leaving America feeling threatened by China’s rise as a global power.
Chinese investment in Africa has solely been one-sided. by heavy investments in developing countries, China has claimed to be fair and friendly and its influence as a global economy was empathizes by a president of China at China’s annual conference when he describes the governments of today are “leaders of our times”. He stated that his county was ready to make “globalization work for everyone, and not just a few” (World Economic Forum, 2017). However, this is not the case, in developing countries that China is trading and investing. They have claimed China has done flailed to help them develop as a state. Local citizens have complained that Chinese company has employed their won workers to do the jobs, rather than provide work opportunity to local people., which has increased unemployment in some regions. This has caused local citizens to be angry with their government as well as the Chinese. (Jadesimi, 2017).
As stated previously, China is becoming a global power, which they only achieve that by dominating the world’s economy. However, with the population of 1.3billion people, China has managed to keep up with countries like America which is a world superpower based on their economy. China’s economic growth and influence have made China successful. “China is the fastest growing economy in the world, with what may be the fastest growing military budget. It has nuclear weapons, border disputes with most of its neighbors, and a rapidly improving army that may-within a decade or so be able to resolve old quarrels in its own favor” (Kristof, 1993).
Realism is a theory about power and the security of a state. Normally realists seek power because they exist in a self-help system. Analysing the rise of China as a global power in applying realism, will demonstrate that Chinese government is doing it based on self-interest to gain more power in a more dangerous world. (Nicholas and Herman, 2012)
The realists will argue that China as a global economic power has been influenced by state interest and openness to foreign investments. Realists will argue that China has extended its influence outside Asia and into the countries of Africa and South America. China’s impact in these developing countries has produced economic growth, which has resulted in China to be powerful today. “China has been forging closer ties with emerging economies in Africa and South America in recent years, resulting in a number of these nations breaking off ties with Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing but which still retains a few diplomatic allies” (South China Morning Post, 2018). Additionally, the realists will continue to say that since the African continent, is one of the Chinese largest trading partners as well as leading aid donor. China will need to fight to remain as a global power by benefiting via economic growth as well as military.
Additionally, with the increase of global power in China, they are able to defend themselves as a powerful state because “Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemies”, meaning that you cannot trust anyone. Realists will continue to say that China can out-do and outlast the weaker state, leaving China to be stronger a powerful state “That order is being transformed as economic changes start to bring about changes in the distribution of power” (Department of Defence, Australian Government, 2009, pp. 49). Looking at this through realism, military advancement is important when looking at the rise of China. Global power requires military strength so that the state of China could be feared by others in international politics.
According to classical realism, the world is anarchy and it is always seeking power and security, in the dangerous world as mentioned above. One of the most important political thinkers as well as articulator of realism, Machiavelli stated in his book “The Prince” advised to leaders in general about how to govern the state, he stated that being a leader is to stay in power, and the only way to do that is by forging alliances and also by garnering as much for yourself as possible. Machiavelli continued to say that as a leader is important to be loved by your people but most importantly it is important to be feared as a leader meaning that being feared can guarantee you power for a long time. This showed that power was important to Machiavelli when it comes to politics (Machiavelli et al., 1955)
Clearly, Machiavelli defends power and security of state self-interest. which China has been doing over the past few years. China has progressed from being a poor state to a global superpower, by opening its doors to foreign investments, cheap labor, causing China’s economy to rise as well as influencing China to extend its foreign policy away from Asia and into Africa. Some will argue that other countries like UK, U.S, and France are doing the same thing as China, which is true. however, China has become the main focus of the trading and investment in Africa because China has managed to overshadow western countries in trading as well as foreign aid. “Africans can no longer be trampled upon by Western imperialists, as Chinese companies pump in investment with no political and other strings attached” (Idayat Hassan, 2016). Realists would say that China is not promoting democracy or highlighting Human Rights violations in Africa, but what China is doing it is simply seeking power, allies and economic growth.
Classical realist theory argues that rise of China is due to seeking power to be feared and eliminate competitors in the international politics as previously mentioned. Morgenthau came with the concluded that need for power was characteristic of humanity not a result of individual surrounding or environment. Furthermore, he argued that in any situation around international relations would only serve to expose the evil at the core of humanity. In fact, Morgenthau’s, the ideal world is where information is shared and state’s intentions would be understood if both parties would communicate with each other (Morgenthau, 1978, p. 15).
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been the global superpower, however, since the collapse of the American economy in 2008, U.S. took a turning, while China economic growth grow. Though in 2014 U.S. has announced that it will not spend any more money on the military, China doubled its military investment in the same year “however, the United States current economic and military dominance and balance of power theory predict that other states will balance against them” (Lyne 1993).
The early founders of critical theory were Robert Cox and Richard Ashley. The purpose of the theory is to create crucial starting points for critiquing realism and neo-realism and other traditional theories. Critical theory is a philosophical approach to culture, especially literature, that considers the social, historical, and ideological forces and structures which produce and constrain it. (Nicholas and Herman, 2014).
critical theorists would argue that the rise of China has been highlighted in a negative way. some scholars and critics would say that the rise of global power in China has enabled its government to play a major role in international politics. Traditionally, the critical theorists will question the realism agenda in international politics, ask questions which will provide answers and seek to give a voice to those who are not represented and empower change.
Critical theorists will argue that the rise of China as a global power has a negative and positive outcome. The positive outcome is that, with China open-door policy to foreign investments and cheap labor, have resulted in China to be second largest global economy and military in international politics. However Critical theorists, critique the rise of China as a global power because as previously mentions it has been heavily focused on economy and military, and not about the forgotten voice of Chinese citizens who work in factories and also living under poverty line. “n total 85% of China’s poor live in rural areas and extreme poverty forces many of them to leave the countryside in search of employment in urban areas. Often referred to as the factory of the world, China’s industry-oriented economy relies on these migrant workers who make up the majority of the workforce” (War on Want, n.d.).
Critical theorists will argue that China’s global economy has overshadowed the hidden fact that Chinese citizens have not been taken into the account, Realists would say that the state should not be taken for granted but it should rule and feared, but critical theorists would argue that China’s performance in global market and foreign investments have been as capitalist as it could be in the state that is ruled by a communism. “China’s Economic and political development indicates that such a transition is objectively possible since both material and ethical justifications for it to happen now exist” (Yilmaz, 2015).
However, China’s foreign investments in Africa has also caused problems in some regions as previously mentioned, local citizens have complained that due to China bringing its own employers, it has caused more unemployment’s and tension between the local citizens, critical theorist would argue that, the local citizens are focusing only on the negative impact the Chinese companies have cause, and yet forgotten that, it is also the government of their own state has also contributed in rising of unemployment as well as allowing Chinese companies bring their own workers in the state “the World Bank just came out with new data that reportedly revealed that 48 percent of Ghanaian young people are unemployed” (HuffPost, 2016.). Also, one of the reasons Chinese industries are successful in Africa is because of the affordable prices on infrastructures. However, critical theorists would argue that, even with cheap labor and affordable prices on infrastructures industries, China should not create further unemployment, as it might create tensions between the local people and the Chinese workers.
In conclusion, this essay discussed the rise of China as a global power by applying Classical Realism and Critical Theory, additionally, this essay stated how China became second largest world economy, as well as extending its foreign investments in developing countries in Africa. Also, by applying theories in the essay, it highlighted, the pros and cons of the role of China as a global power, as well as critiquing it, on how China focus on capitalism in the international politics. Also, this essay briefly discussed on how the U.S. view China as a threat to a global power.