Date of Award

Spring 6-20-2024

Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Evelyn Lechner

Second Advisor

David Rezvani

Third Advisor

Donald Pease


Contemporary world politics centers around the actions of the two largest powers on Earth, the United States and China. They are both each other’s greatest adversary yet at the same time are each other’s largest trading partners. This thesis explores the nature of China’s economic climate that has seen it grow to one of the world’s foremost powers. However, the East Asian Nation faces economic challenges centered around the three D’s: Debt, Deflation, and Demographics. This thesis analyses what the nature of these challenges are and how China is responding to them within the ever-advancing world of economic and political structures.

Ultimately, the world has existed under the political, economic, and military hegemony of the United States since the fall of the USSR in 1991. Since then, there has been an unchallenged order to world structures that has largely been followed by every nation. This can be known as the U.S. model for world governance. Within this, China had created their own model, one that mimics the U.S. economically but not politically. Notably, China has come to prominence under this order through world trade and the global monetary system. However, with economic and political threats looming on the horizon, China recognizes that it must evolve its model in a way that satisfies its political, economic, and social needs. This thesis claims that in order for this to occur, China will decouple from the current world system and operate independently under a New China Model, effectively splitting the globe into two distinct systems. This new order would be comprised of China, Russia, and a slew of nations that have grown to be strong economic and political partners through the Belt and Road Initiative.

This Decoupling poses massive implications for the state of foreign affairs and necessitates a pivot in American policy to both recognize this situation and act accordingly to secure U.S. economic and diplomatic interests. As such, the stage is set for a massive scale competition for global order and hegemony.