Chinese Century

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The Chinese Century (simplified Chinese: 中国世纪; traditional Chinese: 中國世紀; pinyin: Zhōngguó Shìjì) is a neologism suggesting the possibility that the 21st century will be dominated by the People's Republic of China, similarly to how "the American Century" refers to the 20th century and "Pax Britannica" ("British Peace") refers to the 19th.[1] The phrase is used particularly in the assertion that the economy of China will overtake the economy of the United States as the largest national economy in the world,[2] a position it held for a large part of the last two millennia according to the UN World Bank.[3]


Michael Beckley, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, rejects the idea that:

  • the United States is in decline relative to China and;
  • the hegemonic burdens the United States bears to sustain globalized, unipolar system contributes to its decline.

Alternatively, Beckley argues the United States’ power is durable and unipolarity and globalization are the main reasons why. He contends: "The United States derives competitive advantages from its preponderant position, and globalization allows it to exploit these advantages, attracting economic activity and manipulating the international system to its benefit."[4]

Beckley believes that if the United States really was in terminal decline, that it would adopt neomercantilist economic policies and disengage from military commitments in Asia. "If however, the United States is not in decline, and if globalization and hegemony are the main reasons why, then the United States should do the opposite: it should contain China’s growth by maintaining a liberal international economic policy, and it should subdue China’s ambitions by sustaining a robust political and military presence in Asia."[4] Beckley believes that the United States benefits from being an extant hegemon—the US did not overturn the international order to its benefit in 1990, but rather, the existing order collapsed around it.

Scholars that are skeptical of the US' maintaining unipolarity include Robert Pape, who has calculated that "one of the largest relative declines in modern history" stems from "the spread of technology to the rest of the world".[5] Similarly, Fareed Zakaria writes, "The unipolar order of the last two decades is waning not because of Iraq but because of the broader diffusion of power across the world."[6]

See also


  1. Rees-Mogg, William (3 January 2005). "This is the Chinese century". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 September 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Elliott, Michael (2007-01-22). "China Takes On the World". Time Magazine.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dahlman, Carl J; Aubert, Jean-Eric. China and the Knowledge Economy: Seizing the 21st Century. WBI Development Studies. World Bank Publications. Accessed 30 January 2008.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Beckley, Michael (Winter 2011–2012). "China's Century? Why America's Edge Will Endure" (PDF). International Security. 36 (3): 41–78, p. 42. doi:10.1162/isec_a_00066. Retrieved 13 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pape, Robert (January–February 2009). "Empire Falls". The National Interest: 26. Retrieved 13 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Zakaria, Fareed (2009). The Post-American World. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 43. ISBN 9780393334807.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Books and further reading

  • Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fishman, Ted (2006) China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World. Scribner ISBN 9780743257350.
  • Jacques, Martin (2012) When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. Penguin Books ISBN 9780143118008.
  • Overholt, William (1994) The Rise of China: How Economic Reform is Creating a New Superpower. W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 9780393312454.
  • Peerenboom, Randall (2008) China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest?. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199226122.
  • Schell, Orville (2014) Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century. Random House Trade Paperbacks ISBN 9780812976250.
  • Shambaugh, David (2014) China Goes Global: The Partial Power. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199361038.
  • Womack, Brantly (2010) China's Rise in Historical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ISBN 9780742567221.
  • Yueh, Linda (2013) China's Growth: The Making of an Economic Superpower. Oxford University Press ISBN 9780199205783.
  • Dahlman, Carl J; Aubert, Jean-Eric. China and the Knowledge Economy: Seizing the 21st Century. WBI Development Studies. World Bank Publications. Accessed 30 January 2008.

External links