Use international relations theory as a framework in the analysis

When analyzing the question “Has China lost its ground as a great power in recent years?” using international relations theory as a framework, you can draw insights from several prominent theories. Here are three theories that can offer valuable perspectives:


Realism is a foundational theory in international relations that emphasizes power, security, and the competitive nature of global politics. Within the context of China’s status as a great power, realism can provide insights into how China’s capabilities, military strength, and geopolitical interactions impact its position. You can analyze China’s relationship with other major powers, its strategic competition with the United States, its territorial disputes, and its military modernization efforts. Realism’s focus on the balance of power and the pursuit of national interests can help assess whether China’s influence has waned or expanded.


Liberalism emphasizes cooperation, interdependence, and the role of international institutions. In the context of China’s position as a great power, liberalism can shed light on China’s economic integration, participation in international organizations, and diplomatic engagements. Analyze China’s economic relationships, its involvement in initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative, and its engagement in global governance. Liberalism’s emphasis on cooperation and the potential for shared interests can help evaluate whether China’s influence is diminishing or growing.


Constructivism focuses on the role of ideas, norms, and identities in shaping international relations. For the question at hand, constructivism can offer insights into how China’s self-perception and identity as a great power influence its behavior and interactions. Analyze China’s narrative in international discourse, its efforts to shape norms and institutions, and its cultural diplomacy. Constructivism’s emphasis on the importance of ideational factors can help assess whether China’s perceived loss of influence is a result of changing norms or identity dynamics.

Each of these theories provides a distinct perspective on China’s status as a great power. By applying these frameworks, you can delve into various dimensions of China’s global influence, including military power, economic ties, diplomatic strategies, and cultural narratives. Integrating insights from multiple theories can yield a comprehensive understanding of whether China has indeed lost its ground as a great power in recent years.

Introduction: Framing the Analysis

Addressing the question of whether China has lost its status as a great power necessitates a structured analysis, and utilizing international relations theory as a framework can provide valuable insights. By drawing upon established theoretical perspectives, we can critically examine China’s current position in the global arena. In this response, we will explore this question using two prominent international relations theories: Realism and Liberalism.

Realism Perspective: China’s Power and Competition

From a realist standpoint, the analysis of China’s status as a great power focuses on its power capabilities and the competitive nature of global politics. Realism suggests that great powers strive to maximize their security and influence, often leading to competition and balance of power dynamics. In recent years, China’s rapid economic growth, military modernization, and assertive foreign policy have enhanced its position on the global stage. However, challenges such as strategic competition with the United States and regional tensions may impact its status. Realism’s emphasis on power dynamics underscores that China’s ground as a great power is shaped by both its capabilities and its interactions with other major players.

Liberalism Perspective: Interdependence and Institutions

The liberal perspective, on the other hand, emphasizes interdependence and international institutions. In this framework, China’s influence is not solely determined by military might but also by economic integration and diplomatic engagement. China’s role as a major global economic player and its involvement in international organizations indicate its continued relevance. However, factors like its evolving relationship with international institutions, trade conflicts, and human rights concerns can impact its standing. Liberals argue that a great power’s influence is closely tied to its ability to collaborate within a web of international institutions and norms.

Synthesis and Conclusion

In synthesizing these perspectives, it’s evident that China’s status as a great power is a multifaceted issue. While its economic and military advancements bolster its position, factors such as global competition and cooperation within international frameworks also play a pivotal role. The application of both realism and liberalism provides a holistic understanding of China’s evolving position as a great power. Analyzing the question through these theoretical lenses enriches our comprehension of the complex dynamics influencing China’s global standing. Ultimately, whether China has lost its ground as a great power in recent years depends on how we interpret and weigh these multifarious factors, as illuminated by international relations theory.

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