China to lead world into multipolar century

By Binod Singh (
Updated: 2010-12-21 19:45
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We are living in very interesting times, when a tectonic shift is taking place in global politics. Our time is filled with the rise of new players and the fall of old ones. Century-old Industrial conglomerates have collapsed, and much more is unfolding. Countries are on the verge of going bankrupt. There are already obituaries being written on the sudden demise of the liberal "Washington Consensus."

The rise of China is nothing less than a tectonic geopolitical shift of our time. It calls for an end to the unipolar world and start of a multipolar century, in which, along with US, Japan, Russia, and EU, China will play an important role.

American think tanks and intelligence agencies predicted last year that China is "poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country." In Asia, China is expected to play a dominant role because of its economic clout and rising comprehensive strength. The country is expected to put a check on US interference in the region. Whether it is East Asia or South Asia or Southeast Asia, US now cannot implement its unilateral policy.

But many China observers in the West still continue to deceive themselves and stick to the unipolar world order. In fact, the first decade of the 21st century is already sending enough signals to give them a wakeup call to the emerging new world order. The imminent rise of China as a global player has become "China Shock" syndrome for them.

What is evident in the 21st century is that people across the world are changing their perception of "the dream land." The US is losing ground in different regions as its global leadership has been challenged by the rising power of China and India. The fundamental strategy pursued by the United States since World War II, which was to maintain global leadership in both economic and military fields, has been waning. We no longer live in a US-dominated world order. The "end of history" has already become the talk of the town.

There are many theories explaining the decline of America, of which the economic crisis, especially after the subprime meltdown, is the major one. But these are cyclical events, which US has faced a few times in the past. What is different this time is that the economic recession has hit the country when anti-Americanism is at all-time high across the globe. The depression of 1930s was not exacerbated by the deterioration of American image. In fact, the US actually cashed in on the declining power of Britain and other European countries.

After the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, the world moved into a unipolar world in which it seemed USA was unstoppable in all the realms of power. The techno warfare displayed in the Gulf War of 1991 took all of us by surprise. Even movies such as Titanic and Avatar reminded us of the technological gap we still face.

But China is rapidly catching up. The fastest train is now running through nowhere else but Chinese mainland, to which California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was attracted - he even invited Chinese companies to his state. China is also wrestling with the US monopoly of outer space, and the head of NASA knocked on the door of China to seek cooperation with their space authorities.

But one should also remember that it is not the "Rise of China" that has led to the US decline. More than anything else, it is a non-state organization called al-Qaida that precipitated the downfall of the American empire. George W. Bush seems destined to go down in history as a US president who oversaw its decline.

Soft power, a concept coined by Harvard scholar Joseph Nye, has not really worked for America either. WikiLeaks, which has embarrassed the US so much recently, has revealed that US Marines have been carrying genocide-scale killings in Iraq and Afghanistan and still carrying out Guantanamo-esque tortures at undisclosed locations. They certainly haven't done much to help revive America's reputation in the Arab world, an area dominated by radical Muslims, whom America is keen to win over.

All this doesn't even take into account the fact that the War on Terror has seriously drained the energy of the US and it's losing ground rapidly to China on important fronts like Africa and even Latin America, which is seen as the US' backyard.

That the US is going to be replaced as the sole superpower has long been a foregone conclusion. Judging from the developments of the first decade of the 21st century, it appears that the day may come sooner than expected.

The rise of China will be peaceful if the West follows the wisdom expressed in The Revolt of Asia.

"We have come to the end of the White Man's world dominance. If he resigns himself to this historic evolution he will save his world and the Asiatic's world. If he resists he will likely bring about the destruction of both. We have come to the beginning of the White and Colored Man's joint world, when each shall have control in his own house and a proportionate say in the general convocation of humanity. We are passing from the era of Empire by Conquest into the era of Empire by Attraction, Service, and Business that asks only a fair field and no favors. We have come to the time when any prolonged attempt of any race or nation or class or sex to dominate another can only bring destruction to both. It is live and let live. It is tolerance, or death."(Upton Close, The Revolt of Asia, quoted from Niraj Kamal, Pan-Asianism, 2003)

The writer is a faculty member at The School of Asian and African Studies of BFSU. He can be reached at