The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the beginning of an era in which the United States stood as the world’s sole economic superpower.
But that decade also saw the accelerated rise of a new force–China–whose current economic standing, in the eyes of several nations and global leaders, may have already surpassed that of the US.
As early as 2014, the International Monetary Fund had already ranked China as the world’s largest economic superpower, asserting that China’s 17% contribution to the world’s GDP had outpaced the US contribution of 16%.
The actual numbers, or interpretation of the numbers, are still debatable, as many economists would consider the competition between the two nations as a neck-and-neck race, perhaps with the US holding a slight lead.
But as we’ve observed in politics, the perception of power is as critical as holding actual power itself, particularly when two candidates are facing off in a toss-up scenario. The same principle applies to geopolitics, wherein perception may play a significant role in influencing international relations and policy decisions.
If you want to know who holds the title to the world’s undisputed economic superpower, it really depends on who you ask.
Here’s an infographic by Visual Capitalist that illustrates global opinion toward this matter.
In a recent survey by Pew Research Center, opinions garnered among 38 participating countries revealed that 42% of the people surveyed considered the US as the world’s largest economic superpower, while 32% believed China held the top spot.
So what do America’s allies think? Surely they are wagering on our side, right? Not so fast. Perception is changing, and it may surprise you.
Who views China as the world’s dominant economic superpower? The majority of people living in:
- United Kingdom
Who views the United States as the world’s leading economic superpower?
- Majority of South American countries
- Majority of African countries
- South Korea
Here’s the full infographic presented by Pew Research Center:
Furthermore, what’s interesting to see is how quickly this perception has shifted since 2015-2016:
It should also be noted that the leaders of both nations are generally viewed negatively across the globe when it comes to world affairs, with a median of 53% expressing a lack of confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping and a whopping 75% for U.S. President Donald Trump.
But with a US debt-to-GDP ratio of 103%, and a China debt-to-GDP ratio of 300%, perhaps we shouldn’t be asking ourselves which nation might qualify as “top dog.” Perhaps we should spend more time analyzing the fundamental data to figure out which nation’s economy might collapse first.