How Is China Becoming More Powerful?

three-pronged plan by chinese government is in place

By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer

China’s global influence seems to be increasing by the day. The superpower is pursuing several economic and military plans to become more powerful. How is China expanding its influence on the world stage?

Chinese flag and military ships in water
China has developed three initiatives to continue its national growth as a global powerhouse. Photo by FOTOGRIN / Shutterstock

China’s political system is authoritarian, with some arguing that it goes so far as to embody totalitarianism. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suppresses criticism, subverts international organizations, and coerces other countries through economic means. You may have heard in the news recently that the U.S. House of Representatives even created a committee focused on American competition with China.

The committee will focus on bringing supply chains back to the United States and securing intellectual properties, among other things. But how is China becoming so powerful? In his video series Assessing America’s National Security Threats, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, U.S. Army (ret.), outlines China’s three-pronged approach to increasing its global clout.

What Is “Made in China 2025”?

“When I served as President Trump’s national security advisor, Chinese premier Li Keqiang went so far as to state that China—having now developed its industrial and technological base—no longer needed the United States,” Lt. Gen. McMaster said. “He dismissed U.S. concerns over China’s various unfair trade and economic practices […] and indicated that the future U.S. role in the global economy would be merely to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s industrial and consumer needs.”

China also reportedly knows its window to strengthen Communist Party rule is closing due to a souring economy and aging work force. Despite this, it emphasizes centralized, state-owned practices through three major endeavors: Made in China 2025, One Belt One Road, and Military-Civil Fusion.

Made in China 2025 seeks to make China independent in science and technology by creating high-tech monopolies within the country. The government also robs foreign companies of their intellectual properties through forced technology transfer or outright theft.

“In some cases, foreign companies are forced to enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies, all of which must, by law, act as an extension of the CCP,” Lt. Gen. McMaster said. “The CCP systematically applies stolen and extracted intellectual property and sensitive technologies to improve military capabilities and gain unfair advantage in global markets.”

What Is “One Belt One Road”?

The next part of China’s continuing rise to power is a program known as One Belt One Road, which calls for $1 trillion in infrastructure investments throughout and beyond the Indo-Pacific region. China offers foreign governments big loans for major infrastructure projects, allows them to fall into debt, then forces the foreign leaders to align to China’s foreign policy agenda. Much of this agenda involves displacing the influence of the United States and its partners.

Nearly two dozen countries are currently at risk of debt distress with One Belt One Road financing, eight of which—Pakistan, Djibouti, the Maldives, Laos, Mongolia, Montenegro, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan—have already accrued unsustainable levels of debt.

What is “Military-Civil Fusion”?

“The Military-Civil Fusion policy is the most totalitarian of the three prongs,” Lt. Gen. McMaster said. “Military-Civil Fusion encourages state-owned and private enterprises alike to acquire foreign companies with advanced technologies—or to buy a strong minority stake in those companies—so that the technologies can be applied to China’s own economic, military, and intelligence advantage.”

Stolen tech in artificial intelligence, biology, energy, cyberspace, and more are handed over to the People’s Liberation Army, which is China’s main military force. Even some Chinese students and scholars abroad are tasked with acquiring sensitive technology and know-how from laboratories near them.

With these programs in place, the Chinese government is working to better its interests at home and abroad. What the future holds for China’s place on the world stage is anybody’s guess.

Assessing America’s National Security Threats is now available to stream on Wondrium.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, Wondrium Daily