Beijing: Many experts are of the view that China's rise to the top of the ladder is inevitable and the Chinese overtaking the Americans is only a matter of time. However, it seems as if Beijing's quest for global dominance has taken a backseat.
According to a recent report by Lowy Institute's Asia Power Index, China's comprehensive power has gone south for the first time in four editions. It has suffered a setback in half of the Index's measures of power in 2021 - from diplomatic and cultural influence to economic capability and future resources.
The year before, it was holding ground in overall power despite suffering diplomatic setbacks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which was said to have been originated from a wet market in Wuhan. In the year before, it scored the highest gains in the region.
"On current trends, Beijing is now less likely to pull ahead of its peer competitor in comprehensive power by the end of the decade. Importantly, this change suggests that there is nothing inevitable about China's rise in the world," the report said.
It also added that the shifts in the relative standing of both America and China in various elements of power, including military spending, are possible and indeed already emerging as policy directions and circumstances change.
The report further added that China is unlikely to be as dominant as the US once was during the peak of its power.
As a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, policymakers in Beijing have turned inwards with an emphasis on economic self-sufficiency and geoeconomic security.
For instance, in 2019, the arrival of non-resident visitors from the region including business travelers, tourists, and students had hugely benefited China.
But after the outbreak of Covid, the Chinese policy took a U-turn. They installed a strict system of border control and quarantine to contain the inflow of people. As a result, there was a disruption in international travel to and from China which in turn has had a knock-on effect on people-to-people links in the region.
The report also said that this inward-looking approach had also hampered China's diplomatic influence so much so that the US had narrowly overtaken China in this department. This shift in policy has turned out to be detrimental for China according to the report.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has not gone abroad for official state visits for almost two years despite regional diplomatic activity by senior Beijing officials. In the regional expert survey carried out by the index, the Chinese President got overtaken by the leaders of the United States, Russia, and even Singapore in the leadership on the international stage.
India has been ranked fourth in the Lowly Institute Asia Power Index and its overall score has declined by 2 points from the previous year.