Have China or Russia removed the U.S. from the Big Throne and became a new superpower?
With China, U.S. and Russia being so focused on establishing superiority over other nations and making huge steps in boosting their military and economic strength – is it fair to say that the U.S. is still the only superpower in the world?
Or are we already seeing the rise of a new superpower? Is it Russia or China? And would that new superpower dwarf the U.S. superiority and become the world’s sole and unmatched superpower?
China vs. U.S. vs. Russia: Who’s economy dominates the world?
Let’s start with the economy. Although the Russian economy is slowly recovering from the damage inflicted by Western sanctions, there is still no point in comparing it to the Chinese economy, let alone the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy and the Chinese economy – which are often referred to as the world’s two superpower economies – can be easily put into perspective.
While China still has much work to do in its economy to be called the new superpower, its economic advances over the past three decades can’t be overestimated.
Back in the ‘80s, the Chinese economy enjoyed only $309 billion in GDP, according to Wikipedia. The size of the U.S. economy, meanwhile, was a whopping $2.9 trillion in the same period.
By 2015, the gap between the two economies has shrunk significantly. In 2015, China’s economy reached $10.7 trillion in GDP, while the U.S. economy stood at $17.9 trillion.
China will continue growing at an annual rate of 4.6% between now and 2050, as estimated by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. U.S. economy, meanwhile, will grow by 2.4% a year.
Thus, if no disastrous and economy-damaging event (military conflict, political revolution, etc.) takes place in China and the U.S., China’s GDP is expected to surpass the U.S. by 2028.
Another think tank seems to prove PricewaterhouseCoopers’ prediction, and says China will become the world’s largest economy by 2029. According to the U.K.-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, China’s GDP will stand at $35.26 trillion in 2031, while the U.S. GDP will play second fiddle with its $33.66 trillion.
However, think tanks seem to be changing their predictions every year. For example, last year’s study by the CEBR said that China’s economy would surpass the U.S. in 2025.
But in this year’s study, the CEBR says the two powers will swap places no sooner than in 2029, adding that the adjustment is explained by “slower Chinese GDP growth and a weaker currency.”
Russia, meanwhile, stands nowhere near the U.S. and China in terms of its GDP figures. GDP of the country run by President Vladimir Putin is only $1.2 trillion, which places Russia at the 14th spot in the CEBR’s World’s Largest Economies ranking.
Interestingly, Russia will remain at the 14th spot in the ranking even in 2050, according to the CEBR.
China has already surpassed U.S. in some areas
Even Russia’s close trade ties with China don’t seem to help the country boost its economy. It also doesn’t help Russia’s economy that China-Russia bilateral trade is very imbalanced and is mostly comprised of oil, gas and arms.
Other economy figures also show that China is rapidly catching up to the U.S. or have already surpassed the U.S., which will be run by Donald Trump from January 20, 2017. But does it mean we’re seeing the rise of the new superpower?
According to the economy stats provided by Nation Master, China’s budget revenues amounted to $1.86 trillion in 2014, while the U.S. economy enjoyed 32% more of that, $2.45 trillion.
Just like with GDP stats, Russia stands nowhere near China or the U.S., as its budget revenues were only $416.8 billion in 2014, the same year the country was hit with crippling sanctions.
China, however, dominates both the U.S. and Russia in terms of exports. In 2014, the Asian nation exported items worth $1.97 trillion, which is nearly one-third more than the U.S. ($1.56 trillion) and 4 times more than Russia ($528 billion).
But many love to speculate about the U.S. public debt, saying that America has more debts than any other country in the world. True that, the U.S. public debt is two times bigger than China’s public debt, 70% of GDP against 31.7% of GDP.
Russia, meanwhile, has the smallest public debt of the three nations, only 7.7% of GDP. While it’s not a major economy performance factor, it’s still worth acknowledging that the U.S. indeed has an enormous public debt.
China surpasses the U.S. but is still losing
It’s true that the Chinese economy is poised to surpass the U.S. in the next years. In fact, some analysts project that the Asian nation will surpass the U.S. on a PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) basis in less than five years.
But most economy analysts still stop short from calling China the new superpower because Beijing still loses in a number of other areas. In fact, the U.S. will continue to dominate both China and Russia on most indicators related to living standards and quality of life, and these two segments have a major impact on the country’s overall might.
Also, the U.S. received its dominance power and superpower status not only for its economy might, but also its diplomatic influence on the rest of the world as well as its military superiority.
Russia’s prospects of becoming new superpower
While Russia has enjoyed significant advances in terms of its military might, trying to once and for all put an end to U.S. global dominance, Russia’s economy performance makes it impossible to call it a new superpower. At least for now.
At least not while it’s suffering from crippling Western sanctions imposed after Putin’s actions in Crimea. Interestingly, Russia’s economy had seen pretty significant annual growth before it was hit by the sanctions.
But the sanctions have stalled Russia’s economic growth and made it very unattractive in the eyes of investors. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in its 2016 report that Russia is expected to return to growth next year.
That, of course, if oil prices don’t collapse again. And if U.S. President-elect Trump, who’s believed to have a friendly attitude towards Russia, puts pressure on the West to withdraw sanctions against Moscow, Russia’s economy could even fully recover from crisis.
But for now, Russia has to settle for living under the sanctions. In fact, the IMF says Russia’s anti-crisis measures helped Moscow mitigate the crisis and lessen the impact of recession.
It also helps that Russian authorities have repeatedly called for the diversification of the Russian economy to return to growth. For now, the nation relies on oil exports for much of its wealth. But with the current low oil prices, Russia can’t profit much.
China vs. U.S. vs. Russia: Who’s military dominates the world?
In assessing the military might like a mechanic might look under a car’s hood, it’s fair to say that defense spending is one of the most important indicators of military might.
That’s because big bucks spent annually allow countries to build and buy new military equipment, which, in turn, makes their overall militaries stronger.
The U.S. spends in defense more than the rest of the world combined, a whopping $711 billion per year. China,