The United States and China: the Return of Bipolarity?

Antonio Visani and Dr. Marta Cassano, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Ghislieri College of Excellence, Piazza Collegio Ghislieri, 5, Pavia PV (Italy) 27100

Over the last two decades, China’s economic, military and political influence in the international arena has considerably increased. Its military expenditures and economy have grown at higher rates than the US ones and several projections expect China to become the world’s biggest economy in the next decade. Therefore, many have theorized that the “unipolar moment” in world politics is over and a US-China bipolarity is emerging. However, few quantitative studies tried to confirm this hypothesis empirically. My research is trying to do so.
To test this hypothesis, I measured the affinity of each country with the USA and China in 2019 and 2020 and then I compared it to the affinity of each country with the USA and the USSR in 1981, when there was a clear USA-USSR bipolarism. I also compared the results with the situation in 1993, when the USA were the only superpower in the international system. To measure the concept “affinity”, I considered the votes at the UN General Assembly in those years. In particular, I created a new index that is the Euclidean distance measure between the dyads “country x – the USA” and “country x – China (or USSR in 1981/1993). Although based on the S score, it differs from it because it considers only the cases where both countries in the dyad voted “Nay”. This index measures the affinity better because it takes into account that countries may vote “Yea” or “Abstain” out of conformity with the majority.
The analysis carried out so far shows a voting pattern more polarized than in 1993, although different from the Cold War era. In particular, the USA kept high affinity with most of its traditional allies, while several authoritarian countries in Central and South America, Africa, South-East Asia and East Europe share an affinity with China.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Antonio Visani

Institution: University of Pavia- Ghislieri College of Excellence

Type: Poster

Subject: Political Science

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6527