[Model Answer QP2021 GS2] “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of a China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain.

China poses more challenges than USSR to the USA because of China’s economic clout, global integration, technological prowess, and rising soft power that makes China a uniquely complex competitor.
AspectSoviet Union  China
Economic StrengthMilitary superpower but with a weaker economy.Second largest economy, expected to overtake the USA.
Global IntegrationLimited integration in global economy.Major trade partner for most world economies. It’s a major trade partner for most of the world’s economies, including America’s allies in Europe and Asia. This interconnectedness complicates any attempts to isolate or contain China.
Technological CapabilitiesAdvanced in some areas, like space technology.Rapid advancement in high-tech fields (Quantum communication, AI, 5G, etc.)
Soft PowerLimited soft power projectionHeavy investment in soft power initiatives (the Belt and Road Initiative, Confucius Institutes)
Political SystemCentralized autocracyCentralized autocracy, allowing for rapid mobilization of resources. This system allows for long-term strategic planning and policy continuity. The efficiency that democratic societies may struggle to match.
Military ModernizationStrong military, particularly in nuclear capabilitiesSignificant military modernization and buildup.
Naval capabilities, missile systems, and cyber warfare pose significant challenges.
It’s important to note that the rise of China does not necessarily mean conflict is inevitable – it simply underscores the complexity of managing this crucial bilateral relationship. Future developments will depend on the strategic choices and policy decisions made by both the United States and China.

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