“The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of a China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. UPSC 2021, 10 Marks

Q10. संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकाचीन के रूप में एक ऐसे अस्तित्व के खतरे का सामना कर रहा है जो तत्कालीन सोवियत संघ की तुलना में कहीं अधिक चुनौती पूर्ण है।” विवेचना कीजिए। (उत्तर 150 शब्दों में दीजिए)

Q10. “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of a China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain. (Answer in 150 words) 10


USA’s withdrawal from the Afghanistan and Taliban’s revival in the aftermath has hampered the credibility of USA as a super power up to some extent. Some foreign experts also say that USA is no more a super power. However, it is a debatable statement. 

After the end of the second world war, World has witnessed cold war between USA and erstwhile USSR. After the disintegration of USSR in the year 1991 has ended the era of bi polar world. World has observed USA’s hegemony for some years. That era is also known as Unipolar world.


Since last 2 decades World has witnessed tremendous rise of China. As far as Economy is concerned, China is 


USA has to engaged in various multilateral groupings like QUAD and AUKUS to counter assertive china. That itself suggests china’s increased stature at the global level. 


USA – USSR rivalry vs USA – China Rivalry 


  • To become the world’s next superpower, Beijing focuses primarily on economic, industrial, and technological goals that will provide a competitive advantage. Which was not the case with the USSR, which is posing more threat to USA.
  • The Soviet Union openly and directly viewed the United States as an enemy with whom it could not coexist. China, on the other hand, wants to build a “new model of major country relationship” with the US. China believes, and frequently suggests to the US, that “seeking common ground while reserving differences” is possible. China’s self-portrait and its portrait of the United States differ from those of the former Soviet Union; political perception and self-perception are extremely important.
  • China has a global world view, which reflects in the projects like Belt and road initiatives. Also there is no match to China’s economic power, USSR was nowhere close to China’s economic hegemony. These 2 phenomena are apparently more challenging for USA.
  • USA of cold war era was different. A lot has changed in the last 2 decades. USA has utilized abundant resources in wars at foreign soils, without getting much success. Afghanistan is the classic example of that. USA has also faced worst economic crisis in the year 2008. All these events have led China to slowly and steadily surpass USA at various domains. 
  • China also has a hug skilled manpower. That is the reason why china is the manufacturing hub of the world. This is also one of the reason why USA has huge trade deficit with China. 
  • The Soviet Union was frequently repulsed in the face of internal and external problems, but China has consistently reformed. During the Soviet Union era, there were periods of mild and radical reform, but chronic institutional rigidity persisted and inevitably shook the Soviet regime’s foundations, both economically and ideologically. 
  • In contrast, the Chinese believe that “reform and opening up” encompasses many social, economic, and political aspects, and that it is a continuous process rather than a completed mission.

The Soviet Union failed, but China’s peaceful development, which continues to this day, has been a huge success. More importantly, China’s success and the peaceful environment it has always required are based on reform and opening up to the rest of the world, including the United States, rather than an endless militaristic and belligerent indulgence in great power competition. This is most likely one of the most important lessons the Chinese took away from the fall of the Soviet Union.

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