China has been contesting American hegemony on a global level as some would say. Others would argue that it only intends to compete against US for regional hegemony and not global hegemony for it does not possess the capability to do so. Contrary to all these claims, Xi Jinping has assured that China will never seek hegemony. Despite all the fears of China's increasing influence, Beijing has remained committed to a "peaceful rise"

That being said, whether China is striving for global or regional hegemony is a completely different debate. The point to be made is that China stands successful to a greater extent. China owes it not only to its countless efforts but also to Trump administration's foreign policies. America, unknowingly and unintentionally, has been empowering China with its global policies. With America withdrawing from treaties, China is jumping at the opportunity and filling the void. America's key allies are gradually losing faith in their long term ally as Donald Trump's isolationist policies are gaining momentum. China, on the other hand, is winning allies and has established itself as a more reliable ally.

It was only three days into his administration that Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific partnership deal. President Obama was the one to launch the partnership in order to compete against China in the region. TPP had become a strong trading bloc in the East Asian region especially after Japan joined it. China’s maritime Silk Road was known to be a response to TPP. The withdrawal was a great setback for the US and the world has started focusing on China a little more. China is trying to fill the void created by America and increase its influence. America has definitely empowered China by its withdrawal.

Then the US starts threatening to leave NAFTA, leaving Paris climate agreement, announcing tariffs and the list goes on. America's role as the leader of the free, liberal world has also been discredited by its recent isolationist policies. On the other hand, China has advocated the need to work together for the global governance issues and promote free trade.

Similarly, nobody could be as pleased as Xi Jinping to learn about the suspension of US-South Korea military drills which were considered essential for the East Asian security in return for Kim Jong Un’s vague commitment to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. US president also expressed his desire to withdraw the troops stationed on the Korean peninsula. These decisions have displeased South Korea and Japan, key US allies in the East Asian region.

Furthermore, a number of China’s opponents including Japan, South Korea and India have been targeted with US tariffs. At present, US is being hit back with retaliatory tariffs while a number of countries have threatened retaliation. India lately followed the suit after Washington’s ignorance of request to exempt India from tariffs imposition.

This is a great opportunity for China to patch up relations with its long drawn out rivals.

Moreover, in the recent days Beijing has announced the lowering of tariffs on imports from South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri Lanka.

In addition, key American allies, United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and in the recent months Japan, have embraced Chinese initiatives.

China, with the establishment of banks like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New Development bank and other related banks, seems to be altering the current global financial architecture which was established as a result of Bretton Woods underwritten by the American hegemonic system. One can denote China’s move as a direct challenge to American dominant position in the world economy and AIIB, in particular, a direct rival to IMF and the World Bank. However, China doesn’t seek to change the world trade and investment rules as a whole; but its ability to influence these rules and standards is quite apparent. AIIB is yet just the beginning of Chinese dominance in the world economy.

The aforementioned cases shed light on the likelihood that China might uphold the role of a global leader, or at least a regional hegemon, in the years to come; and US isolationist policies can further play the role of a catalyst in the process. However, it is in the interest of US as well as China to negotiate and work together to reform the current international system and to respond to the challenges of global governance in this era of multiple global issues.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist