China and Russia may topple the United States as world leader in the next five to 20 years, author Michael Levin argued at the International House on Tuesday.
Levin, who spoke about his book The Next Great Clash: China and Russia vs. the United States warned of the potential threat of war between the United States and China.
The talk was the latest installment of the “World Beyond the Headlines” lecture series, a collaborative project between the University of Chicago Center for International Studies, the International House Global Voices Program, the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
In his book, Levin argues that while the United States has been preoccupied with wars in the Middle East, China and Russia have drawn closer together, forming an alliance that will challenge the United States’ position in the global balance of power.
He explained that a re-emerging China is in a unique position.
“[China is] the only nation with the latent capacity to challenge American hegemony,” he said. “Such challenges to the status quo frequently lead to war.”
If there is a war, Levin predicted it would occur in the next five to twenty years.
Levin made economic, political, cultural, and historical arguments, citing academic and personal research stemming from years of living and working in Russia and China.
One of China’s assets, Levin said, was the “belief that their time has come, and when you live and work in China, it is quite impressive.”
Not everyone in the audience was entirely convinced of Levin’s arguments.
“I think there are a great many hiccups along the way to China’s rise to power,” said an audience member. “I think many experts would say that the rise is a likelihood, but not an inevitability.”
Another attendee doubted whether the potential benefits from war would outweigh the consequences.
“I don’t think [war] would be beneficial to China or the United States, as they are so economically connected to each other,” the attendee said.