Strategic Trends

The US-China Conflict in Light of International Relations Theories

08 Aug 2021

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IBAN: 978-9948-846-41-3

AED 20

Executive Summary

China’s economic, military, and technological rise poses essential questions about its impact on the future and shape of the current unipolar world order. Even if we assume that this rise will eventually result in the multipolar world order, other important questions emerge about the mechanisms of this transition. Will it involve an inevitable US-China military clash, or could it occur smoothly? And, what is the expected timeframe for such a change?

Several writings in recent years, particularly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, have tried to answer these questions. However, given the complexity of international relations and interactions, it is difficult to give precise answers. Hence, it is necessary to refer to international relations theories on the conditions and mechanisms of transition in the world order. There are several theories in this regard. However, this study relies on two main theories – the Power Transition Theory and the Hegemonic Stability Theory.

These two were selected due to their coherent arguments and their reliance on varied and distinctive perspectives to understand a transition in the world order, giving systematic and relatively coherent answers based on these two theories. However, the study does not claim to give a final answer on the impact of China’s rise on the future of the world order, or the mechanisms of this transition. Instead, it represents an initial and necessary contribution to the research efforts required at this stage.