The question that analysts are asking is, does China have the strength and ability to rebuild the international system, with the United States still at the top?
The process of rebuilding the international order is not just a wish; Rather, it is related to capabilities and determinants of power at the global level. The talk about power here is based on global, not local, standards. In a comparison between the United States and China, the differences between the two countries are still large. It suffices to point out that the US defense budget for this world is many times that of the Chinese budget, and that the number of nuclear warheads owned by the United States is also many times that of China.
However, there is a Chinese ambition to work on rebuilding the international system, to share it with the United States, and to work on shifting from a unilateral system to a dual system with a pluralistic framework, supported by new international alliances. In a speech to the Chinese People’s Congress in March 2021, the Chinese president said: His country is the first in combating “Corona”, the first in the return of work, and the first in the rates of economic growth. For the Chinese leader, these achievements qualify the rebuilding of the world order, so that China can take its rightful place and role. But what is China’s goal in rebuilding the international order? Is it a return to bipolarity and America’s sharing of the international system?
Many believe that China’s goal is defensive; It consists in defending its regime from criticism directed at it, and realizing some sovereign interests in the China Sea and in Asia. In other words, China aims to remove recognition of its central role in this region, which has become an area of competition and conflict with the United States.
But the realistic view of China and its president goes beyond the limits of influence and influence, as it seeks to preserve one China, rely on economic power, grow its naval power, extend its control over the disputed areas, and return to Chinese sovereignty, most importantly the island of Taiwan, which constitutes the first test focus. Then take advantage of Chinese soft power in Africa, build economic alliances, and diversify strategic partnerships with many other powers, such as: Russia, Iran and India, and take advantage of the decline of American power in the Middle East, and work to fill this decline through economic relations.
China is trying today to present a model as a model for solving all the economic problems facing many countries of the world. Despite this, the path is still thorny for China’s success in rebuilding the international system for many reasons, the first of which is the comparison between its strength and that of the United States, militarily and economically; Where the differences are still clear, especially in the number of nuclear warheads, the size of the military budget and economic power, in addition to the internal problems that China faces in building a single strong state. As the Chinese president said: “One nation is a priority goal and it should be achieved and achieved first.”
The Chinese goal remains closer to the ideological political ambition that takes a long time to achieve, and depends on the extent of the decline in the American role globally, and on the internal challenges that the United States may face.
Nevertheless, China has succeeded in being a rival force to the United States, which will decide the shape of the international system in the coming years, and therefore the global role of China must be recognized, adapted and coexisted with it.