Where is China Headed?

China’s Expanding Influence Around the World and Beyond

By Joann Kong

Less than a century ago, the West was an unquestioned, dominant, and formidable power that arguably stood tall over the rest of the world. The Age of Imperialism set up the perfect playing ground on which both the European continent and the United States were able to directly assert their dominance over many of the Eastern nations. Remember when some of the Western nations divided China into spheres of influence in the early twentieth century? I think it’s fair to say now that the tide has turned, or is at the very least, turning. Here’s why:

China has established itself as an economic superpower over the course of the 21st century. As China is gaining more power and, arguably, respect, China is also taking actions that largely resemble actions taken by nations during the age of imperialism. According to an article from The Economist, Africans are growing increasingly wary about authoritarian China’s presence in Africa. China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, so it makes sense, unfortunately, that the China’s presence in Africa is driven, arguably, solely by the economic prospects that result from controlling Africa. It seems as though China is looking on to growing more and more imperialistic, which is clearly evident with President of China’s Xi Jin ping plan to invest at least 250 billion dollars in Latin America. I think it’s safe to say that China has been getting a taste of what it feels like to be an imperialist power, but unfortunately for the rest of the world, it’s becoming more evident that China is using its powers to benefit itself. China is often not helpful in restoring order or helping the political systems of African nations; rather, China is more concerned with making sure that is able to better its own economy.

China’s reach is truly limitless though: as if reaching and investing in places like Africa and Latin America weren’t enough, China is now going into space! The island of Hainan carries with it a location that is assumed to be of great advantage when China decides to launch into space. Like many of the Chinese government’s projects, this base is a secret to the general public, and therefore, it is difficult to be sure of what is actually going on. But, according to an article from The Economist, entitled, “Ready for Launch”, China will possibly put an unmanned rover onto the planet of Mars near the end of the decade, culminating in around 2030, when “China hopes to test what could be one of the world’s highest-capacity rockets, the Long March 9”.

While China’s actions are similar to actions performed by the West in regards to both imperialism and space exploration, I believe it is safe to hypothesize that China will surpass the West. China is a little behind the Western nations when it comes to time frame, but her imperialism and exploration into space have shown that she’s ready to take advantage of this time when European nations have started to reach a plateau in terms of growth. Whether China’s rise and domination bring benefits or harms, a shift in the balance of power seems imminent.

Joann Kong is a freshman interested in majoring in International Relations and Mathematics.