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How is China Challenging the USA as the World’s Main Superpower?

A superpower is a very powerful and influential nation. Such influences include soft and hard power. Soft power includes the country’s culturally influential power upon other countries. Example of this includes America’s McDonalds, this branch of fast food restaurants, and a representative of huge American soft power. McDonald's has spread over almost all over the globe and yet presents the original idea of American fast food. Another soft power is political influence; countries with political influence can give aid and/or threaten countries and then use their political superiority to enable a trade to get what they want.

Also, all potential challenges that country could create, such as mass conscription falls under soft power. Hard power is the use of military and economic means to influence the behaviour or interests of other political bodies. Examples of hard power include the means of using military force to invade a country or disrupt its trade. Also, brute economical force could count as hard power. A hypothetical example of this could be if the USA increases its import duties against Chinese exports. This would demonstrate hard power because it would be a direct, intentional challenge to the Chinese economy and as I mentioned this would only exist hypothetically because if this happened China could appeal to the World Trade Organization and redirect restrictions on the US.

Figure 1 China's devaluation from 2014 to 2015 | Commentary Use

China is challenging the USA as the world’s main superpower in multiple ways. First, economically, China is devaluating its currency. By devaluating the renminbi (RMB), the US could import more Chinese goods with the same dollar. With a previous exchange rate of 6.1161 to the dollar and a devaluation to 6.2298 and later 6.3306, China encouraged the US market to further integrate Chinese goods.

This challenges the USA because if China is its competition, there are still more goods produced externally than locally sourced, especially with one main external source (China), the US could become too reliant on China. In addition to this, Chinese goods, that are cheaper than local American ones, but still at the same quality could cause huge work displacement in the US. The same set of headphones that cost $10 in the US could only cost $5 in China. This process is called dumping, where one floods a market with cheap imported products.

This is another huge challenge because China can constantly produce cheap goods, with an impressive amount of workforce required from any other country who wishes to rival it. This is due to China’s massive workforce. China currently has a huge 1.357bn people whereas the USA only has 318.9mn people. This plays an important role because a big population provides a big workforce which in turn provides cheap labour. Because of this China can produce the same goods as any other country but at much cheaper and faster rate.

Figure 2 USA military expenditure in comparison to other countries | Commentary Use

The USA however, also is defending itself as the world main superpower for a few reasons. Firstly, the USA’s military strength overpowers the Chinese military by far. Their huge hard power is shown by Figure 2. This graph clearly shows how much the US has been spending on its military. The USA spends almost seven times that of China almost fourteen times more than most other countries. This kind of hard power provides the USA with a huge advantage because if it chooses to declare war on China it could entirely wipe out the competition.

But such amounts of money don’t just advance the infantry and air force but they can massively develop modern nuclear devices. The US has the most nuclear warheads and the largest research and development program currently. Additionally, while China has soft power such as an excellent economy, USA has a far greater cultural and political influence. USA’s cultural influence can be seen all over the world.

Table 1 America's cultural influence over Europe | Commentary Use

Table 1 shows modern American cultural influences over Europe. America has huge influences ranging from films to books. China holds very little of such influence although it produces a lot of goods across the world. In addition to this USA has held good international relations with powerful countries since its existence such as Britain and France but China has relations far weaker.

To evaluate, China has a promising history and a positive trend. This has allowed China to develop well so far however its competition is a country who currently tops the economy. Not only does the USA have better relations with other powerful fully developed countries but it is already there where China has to get to, giving it a head start. This is why I believe China can pull it off but it has relentless persist, ensuring its current economic growth and to make sure it is stabilized and secure, otherwise, it could collapse.