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CWA # 37, 26 June 2018

China
Will China be able to sustain its Dominance?

  Siddhatti Mehta

If China aspires to take over the US as a world power, it needs to correct its fault lines in terms of not only demography but also in terms of resolving the underlying regional and political tensions

School of Liberal Studies, PDPU, Gandhinagar & Research Intern, National Institute of Advanced Studies, IISc (Bengaluru)                                       

 

China’s growth has transcended beyond its limits and continues to make its presence felt globally. Even though it has geographically expanded its boundaries and aims at becoming the world superpower, there are some roadblocks that it needs to address. The problems of overpopulation, immigration, wealth distribution and income inequality are some of the roadblocks.

However, the major problems that it faces today are its internal disputes, regional tensions and demographic divide that might hamper its aim at becoming world superpower.

In spite of being one of the major superpowers and a frontrunner in being a world power, Will China is able to sustain its dominance is something to wait and watch.

 

Regional and Territorial Disputes

China’s regional disputes with its neighbours have always been a matter of concern.

It has raised tensions in the South China Sea over its increasingly assertive stance on its territorial dispute among the highly contested islands notably amongst Spratly islands, Paracel and the Scarborough islands claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines and Taiwan. It has built military facilities on these artificial islands and taken control of these territorial waters.

The abundance of natural resources has caused fierce competition among contesting countries with China playing a strong role.

The Xinjiang conflict is another separatist conflict that has caused internal dispute. Muslim dominated region in the far northwest of China has often been the site of violent ethnic strife between the Muslim Uyghur majority and the Han Chinese minority. The province often feared to be outnumbered in recent times due to increasing numbers of Hans migrating here and taking over the business that they once dominated. The real problems of economic, cultural and political still remain unresolved to a certain extent but cater to many of the disputes between the two communities.

Another dispute at its hands is with Japan over the uninhabited islands known as the Senkaku Islands. Since the existence of oil reserves surfaced the question over its sovereignty has been in question. With Japan buying islands from its owner to China setting up Air Defense Identification Zone which included Senkaku Islands both countries have been at loggerheads regarding the conflict.

The issues with Tibet and Hong Kong over its sovereignty of the former and one country two systems principle along with the allocation of resources is another issue at hands of the Chinese government.

 

Demographic Divide

The overgrowing population has always been the major for China. Sustaining such a huge number of people is a tough job and the strain on natural resources doubles. To tackle the situation the Chinese government implemented the one-child policy prompting the people to not have more kids and trying to bring the numbers down. But by doing so they soon realized the huge gap between the male and the female sex ratio which altered the entire age structure. According to a UN report, it was predicted that 40 percent of the Chinese population will be retired by 2050, putting the burden of sustaining the social and service sector and the economy on the youths. When these families start averaging fewer than two children as they become wealthier and more urban the percent of births will limit and the gap would increase. But also since there has been a baby boom since the policy was dropped, it definitely will bring a boost in the consumption of infant food and clothing along with education services.

 The Chinese cannot escape the looming spiral of its age population as its repercussions of one child policy are irreversible.

In spite of the economic growth and increased trade with major countries of the world, half of the Chinese population still lives in villages deprived of the basic necessities of living like safe drinking water, sanitation, healthcare and proper education. Apart from the social roadblocks China also lacks the kind of image a superpower should have to influence the world and dominate global politics. It is an economy that trusts its own resources and protects its domestic market from multinational companies by keeping its market partially open. It needs to understand the dynamics of world politics today and be a complete part of the process to gain absolute power like its counterpart.

Similarly, China may have embraced globalization and anticipated trade economic partnerships and trade agreements along with its Belt and road initiative but lacks support. US’s approach towards global issues has proved beneficial for them to gain control in most parts of the world with the presence of World Bank, IMF, and United Nations all in its territory. If China aspires to take over the US as a world power, it needs to correct its fault lines in terms of not only demography but also in terms of resolving the underlying regional and political tensions. And strive to be part of the larger community and make its institutions accomplished enough to Ostend the more prevalent ones.

Today, China is considered a superpower and an emerging world power by all. But the major issues prevailing inside its own borders and in the South China Sea with its fierce assertiveness by the government and the military might not be able to sustain the dominance over world economies for long. Any world power needs to have strong decision powers and the ability to give space for any event to unravel rather than take decisions and end up having disputes that damage their ability to establish grounds.  

 

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