China's President Xi Jinping, second left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, making bliny [Russian pancakes] as they visit the Far East Street exhibition on the sidelines of the 2018 Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Sept 11, 2018. Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office handout / Anadolu Agency
China's President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been cooking up deals together. Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / Anadolu Agency

The historic apogee of Chinese culture, technological achievement and military power was during the Ming Dynasty from the 14th to the 17th century. During that period China established its cultural and political domination over all of East and Southeast Asia.

Gunpowder and paper money were but two of the innovations of the Ming and an encyclopedia was published encompassing everything then known. It was the most complete compendium of knowledge ever until the creation of Wikipedia.

It sent its navy, the most powerful in the world at the time, as far afield as Arabia and Africa, establishing a sphere of influence encompassing all of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and as far as the entrance to the Red Sea.

European naval powers such as England and Portugal hastened to make treaties with China and established trading posts in Hong Kong and Macau.

Then followed three and a half centuries of decline in all fields in which China previously excelled, culminating in a succession of humiliating military defeats from the 1840s to the 1940s. China lost all of its tributary states as well as Taiwan, Manchuria and vast areas of China proper. Internal convulsions and civil war contributed to the devastation of the country, which occurred whether it was under imperial, republican or communist rule. At the beginning of the 1970s, China was a political and economic wreck.

Then came the death of the Mao Zedong and the ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping, who, by freeing up the Chinese economy within a context of authoritarian political stability, propelled the Asian giant into a new golden age of expansion in every field: diplomatic, cultural, scientific, technological, economic, financial and, last but by no means least, military.

In the year 2000 the US bestrode the world as an unchallengeable colossus. Less than two decades later this unipolar configuration has become tripolar, encompassing the US, Russia and China. Compared with those three, all other powers, including Europe, are secondary to insignificant.

That being the case, how do the US, Russia and China compare, now and in the future?

United States

All the great world empires in history suffered from internal rot before being overcome by external enemies. Sometimes that process was rapid and sometimes lengthy.

In the case of the US today the forces of disintegration, including  a staggering load of debt, an obscene degree of concentration of wealth, and the decline of civil discourse, classical education and the traditional family have triggered the rise of populist movements that are afflicting the political/economic giant that recently was not only the richest and most powerful country in the world but the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world.

Diagnosis: Entropic influences are growing but they are not without significant opposition. Prognosis: Decline will continue but the process will be slow.


A classic case of how an individual, as we have seen with Deng in China, can influence the trajectory of an entire society. Against all oddsm Vladimir Putin has picked up a country in the final stages of disintegration and turned it again into a great power.

Diplomacy, science, technology, propaganda and military development and display, along with actual acts of war (in Estonia, Georgia and Ukraine), have turned Russia again into a great power.

A superb grasp of the uses and nuances of the contemporary instruments of influence such as social media as well as cyber offense and defense, as well as an unparalleled strategic sense about when and where to advance, have made Putin as a leader (leaving aside the actual objectives he pursues) unparalleled in the contemporary world scene.

But he is achieving all this in a country in terminal decline in economic and social terms. Russia is like a great boxer who has been knocked to the mat for a count of nine but who rises again and fights with renewed vigor and success, only to find that his reserves of strength are not being replenished. Unlike the US, final collapse in the case of Russia is likely to be sudden and in the not too distant future.


Unlike the US and Russia, China is ascendant, successfully spreading its power and influence throughout the world through the use of all the instruments of statecraft: intelligent diplomacy; a strong and growing economy; superb scientific and technological skills; and military development and deployment.

Trade and investment everywhere; spread of the Chinese language and culture through Confucius Institutes; Pharaonic infrastructure projects such as Belt and Road; naval and/or air bases in the East and South China Seas, on the coast of Pakistan, at the mouth of the Red Sea in Djibouti and now a move into the Mediterranean through making a deal with Israel to manage the Port of Haifa.

Seen from the perspective of the pathetic giant of the 1970s, all this is astonishing. Meanwhile the human urge for liberty, crushed in Tiananmen Square, will continue to be held in check as the Chinese revel in economic prosperity and an increasing international influence and prestige not seen for centuries.

If a successful transition to some form of democracy can be managed at some point in the future, as in South Korea and Taiwan, there is every reason for China to continue its upward trajectory. It has no rivals in Asia except India, and none in the rest of the world except Russia and the US. But accommodation has been reached with Russia whereby they don’t interfere in each other’s spheres of influence. China can afford to wait Russia out while continuing to infiltrate Siberia peacefully.

As to the US, the situation is more complicated because the interests of the parties are in direct political, economic and military conflict. But the US at this point is its own worst enemy, and if China continues to exercise its traditional patience, there is reason to believe that it will also outlast the US as a world power. After that? The new unipolar world will last until internal rot begins to afflict China and new powers arise in the world to challenge it.

Better start learning Chinese.


Asia Times has relaunched on Download our brand new native App for a sweeping selection of geopolitical and business news from across Asia.

Norman A Bailey is the author of numerous books and articles and recipient of several honorary degrees, medals and awards and two orders of knighthood. He also teaches economic statecraft at The Institute of World Politics and has experience on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and in business, consulting and finance. He is professor emeritus in the National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and a columnist for Globes, the Israeli business and financial newspaper.

Join the Conversation


  1. This is a vastly stimulating article. I like the disposition you are correspondence . Hoard up it up and you will sooner a be wearing alot of fans soon.

    You can check my site as well here: best cbd oil for pain

  2. It is a very interesting post. We like that you merely provide quality information and not merely write about something.
    Continue to keep it up and you will probably attain great results.

    So what do a person think about my site? suport lanseta

  3. This is a categorically enchanting website I sine qua non say.

    Too unsatisfactory that there are not too assorted websites like This anymore. But I am happy that I develop it. Ok champion scribble literary works on it .

    You can glom my website here as well: xbody bucuresti

  4. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog
    and was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours
    would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% positive.

    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Appreciate it

  5. Así que bueno, cabezota de mi, llamo al servicio técnico de Fujitsu Madrid, donde según el dependiente había sido enviado, le cuento el problema a la que me atiende y me dice que el primer año de garantía es de la marca y el segundo del establecimiento donde lo compro, por ley. Y que claro, es mi palabra contra la suya y no tengo forma de demostrar que no ha sido por un mal uso… no si a mi me encanta saltar encima de mi portatil… de todas formas nos recomienda que hablemos con el servicio de atención al cliente del fnac y nos da la hoja de reclamaciones.

  6. Efectivamente el día 24/01/2011, me llaman de HP y me comunican que ellos solo pueden hacerme un presupuesto para la reparación del equipo (equipo comprado recientemente) y también me indican que no pueden comprender por qué en FNAC me han dado el número del servicio Técnico de HP cuando debe ser FNAC el responsable. En primer lugar mi más sentido pesar al enterarme de que los sueldos, turnos y horarios de las personas que por no tener más remedio, siguen y siguen trabajando en Fnac… siguen siendo tan tristes como cuando yo trabajaba ahí.

  7. De los electrodomésticos más vulnerables al calor podemos destacar el frigorífico, el lavavajillas, la lavadora y el aire acondicionado aunque todos sufren de alguna manera pues todos nuestros electrodomésticos están diseñados para funcionar a ciertas temperaturas y en cuanto la temperatura sube de ciertos grados estos pierden efectividad y necesitan funcionar más tiempo.

  8. Gracias a nuestro Servicio Técnico de reparacion Cocinas Teka en Madrid se acabaron los problemas para encontrar un equipo de especialistas en reparación. Si lo desea se encuentra fuera de horario comercial, comunique su averia a través de nuestro formulario online para solicitar asistencia tecnica realice una consulta rápida gratuita y nuestro departamento técnico se pondrá en contacto con usted a la mayor brevedad posible.

  9. Puse una reclamación al servicio al consumidor, pero como el que oye llover… Yo desde luego no repito con la marca, con ese servicio ni hablar. Si os soy sincero soy nulo en esto de los moviles y necesito actualizar mi Hero, aun esty con el 1.5 y es una verguenza. Actualmente me encuentro en Turquia y aqui no funciona la garantia, asi que tuve que esparar a ir a España para poderla enviar al SAT. Me indican indican un número de teléfono de contacto con el servicio técnico de la garantía de HTC que resultó ser TELESERVICE en MADRID ahora ARVATO , donde envío mi teléfono en varias ocasiones.

  10. En estos tiempos de crisis en los que estamos es fundamental el ahorro, por este motivo nosotros entendemos que AHORRAR es evitar un gasto consumo mayor. Con la experiencia y solidez de más de 30 años de trabajo, nos hemos afianzado como uno de los mejores y mas reconocidos servicios de asistencia técnica de electrodomésticos.

  11. Y es que nuestros técnicos son nuestro principal activo y por ello estan en continua formación siempre para poder estar a la última en la tecnología de los principales fabricantes de electrodomésticos. De esta forma podemos llegar a todos nuestros clientes con las mejores garantías, pese a no ser el servicio técnico oficial de ninguna de estas marcas, trabajamos con las mismas garantías para su electrodoméstico. De esta forma nos comprometemos con todos nuestros clientes a acudir a realizar la reparación de su lavadora en todo Madrid.

  12. Entre las lesiones frecuentes en los talleres de mecanizado se encuentran partículas de material en los ojos, cortaduras, y lesiones por atoramiento y aplastamiento en máquinas. Este tipo de negocio no suele disponer de ingresos recurrentes como tales, pero como todos, si el cliente está satisfecho reclamará más servicios y productos en el futuro.

  13. Normalmente, una pieza mecanizada facilita el camino hacia el moldeo en mayor medida que una pieza aditiva, por dos razones: el material utilizado en el mecanizado puede repetirse con mayor facilidad en el proceso de moldeo y es más probable que las piezas impresas con geometrías muy complicadas necesiten modificaciones para ser moldeadas eficazmente.

  14. Mecanizamos desde prototipos a series, asesoramos al cliente realizando el diseño la modifcacion de sus piezas hasta los tratamientos finales. Fabricación de piezas a partir de muestra plano del cliente. Debido a que los centros de mecanizado han aumentado la eficiencia, Max’s también ha dado un paso de gigante en la construcción de puertas de interior.

Leave a comment