Introduction: The United States, China, and Global Order

  • G. John Ikenberry
Part of the Asia Today book series (ASIAT)


The United States and China are the two most powerful states in the world today. Each has massive economic, political, and military capacities that allow it to project power and influence around the world. For the United States, this is nothing new. For almost a century, the United States has been the leading world power, facing and overcoming rival great powers in two world wars and a Cold War. In the decades since the end of the Cold War, the United States has reigned in world politics as a “unipolar” state—unrivaled by other great powers or peer competitors. Indeed, as some observers see it, the world has been living through an “American century.” For China, the rise to global power has been more recent and sudden. Beginning with the post-Mao economic reforms of the 1980s, China embarked on three decades of unprecedented economic growth and modernization, recently overtaking Japan as the second largest economy on the world. Through trade, investment, and diplomacy, Chinese power increasingly has global reach. The distribution of global power is constantly shifting. Great powers are always rising and declining. The future is never certain. But amid these changes and for decades to come, the United States and China appear uniquely positioned to dominate world politics.


United States Foreign Policy World Order International Order State Sovereignty 
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© G. John Ikenberry, Wang Jisi, and Zhu Feng 2015

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  • G. John Ikenberry

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