Rising Chinese Hegemony and Its Impact

Rising Chinese Hegemony and Its Impact

Isaac W., Contributing Writer

China as a global power has effectively used its influence not only for benefits on a merely economic level but also to push its agenda of governmental policies and norms worldwide

Chinese global influence throughout the 21st century has continually risen as the country rose to become the world’s manufacturing center and leader of the so-called “Global South.” This level of influence on an international scale exceeds that of any other totalitarian regime in history and poses a global threat that has so far gone unrebutted. 

Section 1: Growing Chinese Influence

Since China began to emerge as a global power they have continued to operate under the principles of “South-South Cooperation.” The idea is that the global south should continue to develop and work together. China has not only adopted this policy but expanded upon it with its developing relations with the rest of the South. 

Chinese trade growth and investment have risen rapidly over the last 3 decades at rates unseen before in history. Since 1992 Chinese imports have multiplied by 90x and exports by 160x, to figures of 113.96 billion annually and 78.68 billion, figures which dramatically overshadow any American trade. Alongside their dramatically increased trade, the Chinese government has effectively utilized state-owned enterprises to increase foreign direct investment or FDI in Africa.

Alongside the increase in direct trade between Africa and China has been approximately $160 billion dollars in loans to African nations from 2000 to 2020. China has engaged in lending with 50 out of 55 African nations helping to increase not only their economic stake in Africa but also their political influence with governments as they help to fund these governments and their development (SOURCE).

Chinese investment in Africa has directly reduced the ability of governments to act independently. China has created a system of dependency that ensures governments lose their ability to resist Chinese influence on a global scale. China has created what many European powers strived to create after the end of direct colonization, a continent both politically and economically dependent upon them without direct supervision, the ultimate form of neo-colonization. 

Section 2: Chinese impact on human rights in developing nations

This data helps to show why China has been able to exert massive amounts of influence over leaders of developing nations hoping to lead their nations forward into a brighter future. This type of influence can be seen directly in documents like the Beijing Declaration, written at the South-South Human Rights Forum an event attended by more than 300 representatives from more than 70 developing nations including 23 nations in Africa, which declared that primary basic human rights as recognized by China are “the right to subsistence and the right to development.” (SSHRF Doc). Declarations like this prioritize economic development which China is willing to assist in the face of other basic rights of the people.

Not only has China garnered support for its interpretation of human rights, but it has also leveraged its influence in order to gain support for its violation of the freedoms of Chinese citizens. In 2014 China began its ongoing process of “re-education” of Uyghur people, an ethnic Muslim minority, in the Xinjiang region. This has been labeled a genocide by the United States and many western nations as it is believed that the Chinese government is attempting to eradicate the cultural differentiation of the Uyghur people. Despite this several Muslim countries in the developing world have stood by China. In fact, over 70 countries in Africa in the Middle east issued a statement calling on other nations to stay out of Chinese internal affairs, defending what is considered a genocide from criticism despite overwhelming evidence that opposes this assertion. This support has largely allowed China to get off the hook and face no substantial repercussions for the reprehensible actions taken against the Uyghur people. This further stresses the need for alternative sources of foreign investment and aid outside of China. China can not be allowed to get away with committing genocide against an ethnic minority without facing serious consequences, and yet it is.  (NORMFARE)

Section 3: Conclusion

Growing Chinese influence in developing questions poses a serious question over the global balance of power: which nation, if any, should be the one to oppose Chinese hegemony? The choice many would make is the United States, but this is a solution with more flaws than fixes. American hegemony itself has a history of direct devastation for weaker powers, whether that be in Central and South America for the last two centuries, where the US has invaded and toppled governments time and time again, the Middle East for the past three decades, where America has invaded and destabilized states for decades at a time, or through America’s continual support of colonial and neo-colonial states in Europe, that victimized the very regions in question, there is no saying whether or not American diplomacy will continue this legacy even if in the eyes of an opposing force unlike any other. However, this does not mean the US will not try and its impacts and challenges to Chinese influence will play a large part in determining the global future.