The tension between China and the USA is on the world’ agenda with a different event every day. Recently, the tension between the two countries with the ‘spy balloon’ crisis was remembered again. The spy balloon, which was accurately proved to belong to China, was captured by US forces near the US military establishment. In the background of the current tensions has the Trade Wars that started in the Trump era, China’s increasing economic and political power, the Taiwan crisis and the US’s moderate attitude for Taiwan. Especially, the idea that China’s competition with the USA in the global market and the prediction that this competition will be won by China, will lead to a major change in the international system is a situation that affects the whole world. What will happen in the near future to the current economic and political position of the USA, which has been shaping the international system since the middle of the 20th century, the results of the rise of China and the new positions of other rising powers are among the top questions on the international agenda.
The era we called ‘Rising China’ has a small historical background. The People’s Republic of China opened its doors to a new era in world politics with the coming to leader Mao Zedong in 1949. This period, which had progressed with systematic economic movements, then experienced a Cultural Revolution with reforms in the economy, after Mao’s death. With the 1970s, the population and geographical size of the People’s Republic of China began to reflect on its economic and political life, and China became one of the fastest growing economic giants in the world. This economic growth brought with it quick liberalization, and China began to make a name for itself in the global market. In 2012, the People’s Republic of China came under the rule of Xi Jinping. Jinping became one of the most powerful leaders after Mao and he announced his power to the world by breaking out of China’s usual “quiet and introverted growth” policies.
After the summit between Jinping and USA President Obama in 2013, themes like ‘a new relationship model and communication between equals ‘ began to show in the Chinese press. Along with these themes; for the first time, The People’s Republic of China had declared that China is equal for to the USA as great and hegemonic power. Jinping not only declared himself a great power after this period, but also emphasized that China will move differently from its past periods in the military and political area, and the international system will make itself felt. China had unequipped and technologically backward army in the early 2000s. With the Jinping era, the army had officially new era as name of ‘modernization in the army. This era, especially starting with naval defense, continues to have the largest navy in the world today. It was also announced that the modernization would be completed in 2035 and in 2050s, there is going to be a worldwide dominant army by Jinping.
China expressed frequently empire time about country’s border and still believes that the near environment of China and the whole Asia area to belong to them. China also considers that it has a voice in Asia as a leader. The Chinese government; by clearly saying that the called ‘one China’ policy and the problem areas, such as Taiwan, are the national territory of China, and that the existence of another political power on these lands will not be accepted; with the increasing defense power and the having of a modernized army, China started to show itself every year. In 2016, China’s efforts to increase security in the South China Sea showed up. Recently, China’s allegations of maritime and airspace violations, especially for Taiwan and the USA, have been frequently spoken in the press. In 2016, USA and Chinese maritime patrol aircraft faced off in international airspace. In 2018, the navies of the USA and China faced each other near the Spratly Islands. In 2019, China declared its new air defense zone; The United States and Taiwan have expressed opposition to this new field. In 2021, China frequently violated Taiwan’s airspace, explaining that these violations were due to exercises near the Taiwan border, and that these exercises would continue on a routine basis. On the other hand, violations are due to reasons such as Taiwan receiving USA support and trying to impose itself as an independent state. These military aggressions against Taiwan were also the determination of China’s involvement in the global arms race. Especially in the era after 2020, China has started to double its current weapons capacity, nuclear power and overseas military bases. In 2022, with the visit of Pelosi, who Speaker of the USA House of Representatives, to Taiwan the tension and political power struggle between the two countries was increased once again.
Finally, in February 2023, a ‘spy balloon’ was shot down in USA airspace. The location of the dropped balloon and the goal of using for espionage activities brought the competition between the two great powers back to the world agenda. The USA government responded by using economic sanctions methods, saying that they would prioritize their own safety in the face of this violation. On the other hand, the Chinese government censured the USA because of showing overreacting. Tensions between the two countries continue as current air or sea space violations, China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan and economic sanctions. The USA is trying to surround and balance China, especially through economic sanctions channels. However, China’s power in the global market makes states dependent in favor of China, while harming the USA economy. Although China says that it has peacefully rising and does not plan to become a hegemonic power, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that China has increased the number of warheads in recent years. It means that this is not a peaceful rise. At the same time, the fact that China is one of the largest arms exporters and the Chinese army’s efforts to ‘make it ready to fight and win’ prove that the Chinese government will not hesitate to use force in a possible conflict in the near future. In the light of all these developments, we can say that China’s rise is not a peaceful rise, as is often emphasized, also China’s behavior in recent years supports this. With the increase of its current power, China could have to protect its position, reputation and allies as a great power within the system. This necessity may also put China in the position of a country that stands out with its more aggressive and hard power. Because throughout history, most of the great powers have put their hand under the stone both for themselves and their allies.