In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States was the world’s only superpower. At the time, in light of the failure of the world’s most powerful Communist regime and the preeminence of the Western powers, many predicted the end of competition amongst major states. Yet, over the past twenty years, as the United States and its allies have focused on battling radical Islamist terrorists around the world, China has focused on strengthening its economic power and enhancing its military might. Today, the United States’ role as the leader of the world is under threat.
China’s goal is to displace the Westphalian system with a Chinese order that allows it to impose its will around the globe and the United States stands as the greatest obstacle to this ambition. For more than twenty years, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has systematically strengthened and modernized its forces, specifically targeting the unique capabilities that underpin United States military superiority. As a result of the PLA’s focus and U.S. complacency, the outcome of a regional war between the two powers is not assured. At the same time, China has transformed its economy into the second largest in the world. It uses its economic power to complement its regional hegemonic designs and to counter U.S. influence around the world. At home, the Chinese Communist Party oppresses the Chinese people in an effort to ensure its grip on power and ruthlessly represses the Uyghurs in Xinjian province.