go to top
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaking before representatives of the National People’s Congress. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presents the government’s “work report” during the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2019 (Imaginechina photo via AP Images).

How a Rising China Has Remade Global Politics

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020

As much as any other single development, China’s rise over the past two decades has remade the landscape of global politics. Beginning with its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001, China rapidly transformed its economy from a low-cost “factory to the world” to a global leader in advanced technologies. Along the way, it has transformed global supply chains, but also international diplomacy, leveraging its success to become the primary trading and development partner for emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

But Beijing’s emergence as a global power has also created tensions. Early expectations that China’s integration into the global economy would lead to liberalization at home and moderation abroad have proven overly optimistic, especially since President Xi Jinping rose to power in 2012. Instead, Xi has overseen a domestic crackdown on dissent, in order to shore up and expand the Chinese Communist Party’s control over every aspect of Chinese society. Needed economic reforms have been put on the backburner, while unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfers and other restrictions for foreign corporations operating in China, have resulted in a trade war with the U.S. and increasing criticism from Europe.

Meanwhile, China’s “quiet rise” has given way to more vocal expressions of great power aspirations and a more assertive international posture, particularly with regard to China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Combined with Beijing’s military modernization program, that has put Asia, as well as the United States, on notice that China’s economic power will have geopolitical implications. Now the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up opportunities for China to expand its influence, even as it has called into question both China’s credibility as a responsible stakeholder and the future of the supply chains that have fueled its economic success story.

WPR has covered China’s rise in detail, and continues to examine key questions about what will happen next. Can China sustain its economic miracle in the face of demographic and environmental challenges? Will China’s military modernization program change the balance of power in Asia and beyond? Is China seeking to reshape the rules-based international system to better reflect its interests, or is Beijing’s goal to undermine and replace it? Below are some of the highlights of WPR’s coverage.


[SPECIAL OFFER: Want to learn more? Get full access to World Politics Review for just $12 for 12 weeks and read all the articles linked here to get up to speed on this important issue.]


Our Most Recent Coverage:

When It Comes to Soft Power, China Is Already Outpacing the U.S.

The coming crisis of American power that is sure to follow the November election will be unique in U.S. history. Competing with China, Russia and other rivals will be less about aircraft carriers and fighter jets than ever before, and more about helping other governments meet the vital needs of their citizens.

China Under Xi Jinping

Many observers in the West assumed that integrating China into the global economy would lead to domestic liberalization and international moderation. Instead, under Xi, China has pocketed the gains of its economic rise, while cracking down on what little domestic dissent had emerged under previous leaders.

U.S.-China Relations

As optimism about China’s rise began to fade at the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. foreign policy community quickly embraced a bipartisan consensus on the need to get tough on Beijing. But President Donald Trump’s trade war and calls for a new Cold War might end up being counterproductive.


[SPECIAL OFFER: Want to learn more? Get full access to World Politics Review for just $12 for 12 weeks and read all the articles linked here to get up to speed on this important issue.]


The Belt and Road Initiative

China has a long history of aid and investment in the developing world. Now its global infrastructure initiative is making inroads not only in Asia and Africa, but also Europe.

China’s Military Modernization

Once primarily a personnel-heavy and ill-equipped land army, the Chinese military has overhauled itself into a force capable of fighting on land and sea, in the air and space, as well as in the cyber domain. And its cutting-edge equipment is increasingly supplied by a Chinese defense industry that has itself become a global player.

Explore more of WPR's China coverage.


[SPECIAL OFFER: Want to learn more? Get full access to World Politics Review for just $12 for 12 weeks and read all the articles linked here to get up to speed on this important issue.]


Not yet ready to subscribe? Download our latest free report instead to get a taste of WPR's in-depth news and expert analysis.

From spyware wielded by autocrats to expanded surveillance by police states under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic, new technologies are helping authoritarian governments entrench their power and target their critics. They are also amplifying the spread of disinformation. Yet many democracies are also using these same technologies in troubling ways. Our latest WPR report provides a comprehensive look at how these state-of-the-art tools are being harnessed by different governments around the world. Download your FREE copy of Surveillance, Control and Disinformation Technology to learn more today.

Download our this free report and better understand the use of technology by governments around the world.

With your copy of Surveillance, Control and Disinformation Technology you’ll also gain free registration to the WPR newsletter, delivering uncompromising news and analysis directly to your inbox. Your FREE registration includes access to select articles, early announcements, and periodic discounts on our full-service subscription.

For years, activists, academics and watchdogs have characterized the spyware industry as out of control, with technology outpacing the laws designed to constrain the industry’s activities. In January 2020, the nefarious potential of such technology was vividly demonstrated when the heir to the Saudi kingdom apparently used Israeli-made spyware to breach the personal phone of the world’s richest man, who owns a leading American newspaper and runs one of the world’s most valuable publicly traded companies.

Meanwhile, the growing prevalence of facial recognition technology in authoritarian countries like Russia and the United Arab Emirates, which use it to monitor activists and suppress dissent, has raised increasing alarm among human rights advocates. Perhaps the most egregious example is in China, where the government has used facial recognition technology to racially profile Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority that is concentrated in Xinjiang province, and forcibly lock them up in internment camps. But authoritarian countries are not alone: This technology is now being harnessed for law enforcement and surveillance purposes in many democracies.

Download Surveillance, Control and Disinformation Technology today to take a deeper look at these trends and get a glimpse at what the future may hold.

In this report, you will learn about:

  • How surveillance technology is helping authoritarian governments stifle dissent
  • The Bezos hack and the dangers of spyware in the hands of autocrats
  • The troubling rise of facial recognition technology in democracies
  • How police states are expanding under the cover of COVID-19
  • Whether the U.S. is prepared to deal with disinformation in the 2020 presidential campaign
  • Why tech giants aren't doing enough to combat misinformation online
  • Why Russia's attempt to create its own tightly controlled internet could backfire

Download this free report and better understand the use of technology by governments around the world.

With your copy of Surveillance, Control and Disinformation Technology you’ll also gain free registration to the WPR newsletter, delivering uncompromising news and analysis directly to your inbox. Your FREE registration includes access to select articles, early announcements, and periodic discounts on our full-service subscription.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2019 and is regularly updated.