‘Is the American Century Over?’

Apart from America’s relative strengths it are China’s weaknesses that may be more vital.

First and foremost, China is exclusive. It is authoritarian and nationalist and so will not likely develop an ideology with global appeal and application: you can’t join it. Liberal democracy and capitalism are huge successes considering how many nations embraced them after the fall of the Soviet Union. Plus even those peoples that did not manage to free themselves from a ruling elite still more than ever are part of a global economy. China first and foremost is an example of the membership benefits of the American order. The Chinese order remains undefined and in so far becomes apparent lacks membership benefits to non-Chinese.

Second, China’s economic growth is contingent upon being able to secure resources and export manufacture. The only game there is international trade and open markets. That is the very order that the US has created. If China manages to become a power in the Asia Pacific, it may do so at the cost of that international order and may put into jeopardy the very openness that is a requirement for its economic strengths. China may not benefit from a world in which it is emergent.
Third, China is smaller than the US in size and yet has a population more than four times that of the US. In terms of ageing population, environmental degradation, vulnerability to climate change and demographic pressure, China is much more vulnerable than the US. When one were to assess this as long term risk, the US comes out well ahead as a safer bet.