China is unlikely to be the next superpower replacing the United States
anytime soon, according to panelists at the Jaipur Literature Festival, who in
the same breath also pointed to the "special relationship" between India and the
Participating in a discussion on "The Decline of America", authors Edward Luce,
Frank Savage, Ian Buruma and Peter Hessler were of the view that China would not
be acceptable to anyone as the leading power.
"No one wants it to be the next power, so it won't be," remarked Buruma, adding
no one from the US to nations in Asia to other neighbours in East Asia was
interested in seeing China wield the kind of influence that comes with being the
This argument was supported by Luce who said there was no world hegemon waiting
in the wings.
"China cannot be a replacement to the US which always has the ability to make
alliances. In fact, there is no hegemon waiting in the wings to take over," he
Peter Hessler, who spent seven years in China reporting for the New Yorker, said
"while China looks very impressive when one goes on short-term visits, those who
have spent some time there recognise that it is no alternative to the US. There
are many weaknesses in society."
In fact, Hessler said, the Chinese were "aware about their weaknesses" and
understand that they have not yet addressed all the issues that would enable
them to become a truly global power.
"The Chinese are very well aware of the weaknesses in their country. The US may
be in a tough situation but China has tougher issues to solve," he said.
Savage foresees a situation where the US, no longer the sole economic power,
would have to share power with other rising states like India and China.
Luce, however, was worried about the implication of no big boss in international
"America's ability to impose its will on various issues has diminished greatly
over the years. What I am scared about the most is a state where there is no one
to replace US and the superpower itself is not strong enough to take the lead,"
Savage brought smiles on faces of the audience with his remarks "I will welcome
it if the US has to share the power with rising states like India."
"In fact, my country is looking to India to be its ally and there is definitely
a special relationship there," he said.
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