The Age Of Multipolarity: Mapping a New World Order

Introduction: Rise and Decline of the Nations

The United States hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, failure to coerce Russia during Ukraine conflict, Conflict with China, repeated fiascos to influence Middle Eastern states forecast the emergence of new global rule which has shifted the world politics and geopolitical realities. These emerging dynamics offers a border view of trends as well as identify global trends. Additionally, the global pandemic is still running, but world is in an enthusiastic race, ready to look ahead. One of the most pressing questions is whether ongoing Covid-19 will bring shift in global order and what it will appear to be.

Emerging realities highlights that international system, dominated by the United States, is likely to change toward a multi-polar political and geo-economic order. This viewpoint has evolved throughout the decades since the conclusion of the Cold War, as Russia, China, and other regional countries have steadily increased their military and economic dominance, while perceptions of the US decline have grown in the end of twenty-first century. On one hand, major countries’ pursuit of multipolarity underlines their desire of a harmonic world characterized by standards such as sovereignty, non-intervention, and peaceful coexistence while allowing them to explain their interaction with the growing international order on the other. The disadvantage of pursuing such a geopolitical goal is the threat it poses to the liberal international system and norms, which the United States has painstakingly created and rigorously administered since the conclusion of World War II. Another important factor that has recently begun to emerge is the impression of forceful containment of China as a result of country’s increased capabilities in economic and military sphere, as well as foreign policy of Russia based on assertiveness in response to the current Ukraine conflict. In a way, these emerging dynamics generates a paradox: such as on the one hand, China supports ideals like prosperity, peace and equality through a multi-polar geo-political global order, but on the other side, the perception created by the west about the China’s aggressiveness negates these lofty goals. Keeping in mind the emerging global dynamics, this article will concentrate on the above-mentioned features of changing international order (multi-Polarity) that China, Russia, Japan and other European States may seek, as well as the peaceful rise of the states, particularly in light of predicted responses from the United States and other major powers.

  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Global Dynamics

The Belt and Road Initiative has been dubbed “the most comprehensive endeavor attempted in centuries.” It is a multibillion-dollar Chinese multilateral development initiative announced in 2013 that promises to link over 70 nations by land and water, with an influence so large that it will affect every aspect of civilization. The project baseline is so large that it is not expected to be completed until 2049. Many people have seen the Project as a symbol of China’s entrance into the world scene.

  • The War in Ukraine Holds a Warning

For a long time, the liberal international structure is now on life support. In his inauguration address, President Biden described democracy as “fragile.” Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin remarked two years ago that “the liberal notion” had “fallen into disuse,” while China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has exalted the might of an all-powerful regime and “self-confidence in our system,” as stated in March.

The international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated that the international postwar regulation’s downfall is not inevitable. No one could have anticipated that Germany would reverse decades of military reluctance by investing 100 billion euros in its military spending, that Switzerland would defrost Russian oligarchs’ investments, or that World Cup soccer, YouTube, and global energy companies would all cut ties with Russia just a month ago.

Ukraine is being considered as an exam for the sustainability of a 75-year-old idea: that unipolarity, liberal democracy, American military capability, and free trade can provide the foundations for peace and worldwide growth by almost everyone, from European and Asian leaders to current and past American politicians.

  • Coronavirus and International Response

Health care, small and medium sized enterprises, the monetary system, and global governance and world order have all seen macro changes as a result of COVID-19’s influence on society. COVID-19 has revealed the vulnerability of independent countries, as well as the current global order. It hasn’t resulted in any new developments, such as COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the power of Biotech and information technology. It showed the old state’s vulnerability, as well as the weakness of all governments who regard themselves as post-industrial, marching backwards into the future, apparently helpless to alter that prospect and just staring at the ruins of the past. The fact is that we have a horrifying death toll in the world, as well as a crippled economy.

199 nations have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. To properly combat the epidemic, it is recommended that a temporary international order be established with the following characteristics: Ban all biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons testing across the world, as well as any armament that could be used for bio-warfare.  Accelerate global disarmament efforts and reduce or eliminate all ongoing wars.

Towards a Multi-Polar International System

In the Post-Cold War era, the international system is divided into two parts: unipolarity and multipolarity. The term ‘Unipolarity’ is defined by the United States as a sole power in the system, while the term ‘multipolarity’ is defined as other developing powers such as China, the European Union, Russia, and Japan. The fall of the United States as a superpower is explained as relative decline, which in return gave rise to other powers leading to the multipolar system. since the rise of other states, the Unipolar global order, which is influenced by the United States, is dissolving with the passage of time. Significantly, China is seen as the critical strong states among all these developing countries due to its peaceful economic and political progress, and the official pronouncements of the United States and new policies reflect great worry as the United States perceives China’s emergence as a risk to its dominance. Whereas China is regarded a latecomer in the international system due to its governance structure and isolated culture since it is still learning the importance of global political order.

In the International system based on multi-polarity, many federations and blocs comprised political, economic, and cultural characteristics of nations, correspondingly, regional states exercise some degree of influence in contrast to US hegemony. Due to the globalization, hegemony of the United States has expanded across the entire globe; however, the emerging trends are entirely different, with multi-polar world order, is likely to offer stability and peace in international system. Though disputes between nations will continue to exist as a result of cultural exchanges and economic cooperation, but their severity will be substantially lower.

According to western scholars, the consequences of multi-polar world order are several such a global governance may become more competitive or complicated. The key viewpoint on the emerging world order is that many Western scholars restrain that  multipolar system started emerging from the end of the Cold War, or decline of the United States, or the rise of other states such as Russia, China, Japan , but rather they are of the view that in a comprehensive framework such as growing economic crises, trade competition, economic wars, and Western countries’ failure to overcome these  emerging crises alone, while the Asian economies are comparatively stable due to their economic policies. shifting trade and investment policies from the north-south axis to the south-south axis can also be noted, positioning China along with other states as a leader in bringing a new world order into being.

Theoretical Framework: Neo-liberalism theory on Rise of China, Russia, EU

The emergence of China is seen as a danger by several realist authors, who forecast a clash between China and the United States. However, based on the emergence of China, Russia, and the EU, and based on the writings of certain liberal scholars, I believe that, in contrast to realist predictions, the Liberal global order is more active. Both Neoliberals and liberals believe that major nations may collaborate and coexist; aside from that, there is peace and harmony beyond hegemony. In international politics, there is a rising discussion about whether the liberal global order can withstand the growth of new powers, and if the United States’ hegemonic position must be challenged. The liberal school of thinking claims that the existing world order is flexible, giving emerging powers with responsibilities and authority while also working with the growth of new great powers without confrontation.

Both Realists and Liberals recognize anarchy as a significant element. Anarchy, according to liberals, is necessary because it provides for a variety of interactions between states. While criticizing Mearsheimer’s theories, Keohane and Martin felt that they contained too many generalizations and that the image he offers was not specific. They maintained that nations build institutions because they give knowledge, lower transaction costs, and increase the credibility of agreements.

This, according to Keohane and Nye, is the period of interdependence, which might be translated as “mutual dependency.” This connection had an impact on foreign politics as well. Multinational collaboration, transnational social movements, and international organizations have supplanted a state that historically dominated world politics. Economic interconnectedness, according to liberals, will reduce the likelihood of political conflict between countries. Economic interdependence is defined by Richard Cooper in his renowned book as “the sensitivity of economic transactions between two or more nations to economic changes within those states.” Two additional writers described economic interdependence in a broader sense, claiming that the international system is characterized by complex interdependence, with returning effects across nations owing to international transactions, such as the flow of money and people over international boundaries. When it comes to complex interdependence, international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (WB) have a momentous impression on economic activities among states and play a critical role in the development of relations among states. In this context, Keohane and Nye argue that due to economic interdependence states are less likely to take offensive action to achieve their objectives. Furthermore, the use of force has been costly for governments due to multiple reasons: big nations have nuclear capability, poor or weak countries exhibit hostility to it, it also has unpredictable and bad repercussions on states’ economic aims, and lastly, internal forces oppose human cost in countries.

Complex interdependence, according to Keohane, does not imply that a condition of conflict has been eradicated; rather, interdependence between nations in the global economy causes problems. People flock to their governments in times of unemployment, recession, or sudden price changes, for example, and governments search for ways to transfer the repercussions to other things. To avert this circumstance, cooperation is required. Cooperation between nations necessitates reciprocal policy adjustments, which may be done through hegemonic power, which Keohane defines as the ability to impose and sustain international regimes that suit their own interests while also being consistent with the interests of others.

Elements of Hegemony in International System and Complex Interdependence

Hegemony is dependent on some form of asymmetric collaboration, and while cooperation is not incompatible with hegemony, the hegemon encourages and promotes it. Hegemony is also important in the formation of international regimes. According to Keohane, US hegemony is waning, and if states are forced to collaborate, it will be more difficult than cooperating without a hegemon. This will aid in the establishment of institutions. Institutions that promote collaboration assist governments in pursuing their goals; moreover, information-based institutions eliminate uncertainty and make future agreements between nations conceivable. Institutions, according to Keohane, have no probability of always prevailing collaboration, but institutions are aware of state interests since interdependence between states produces interests in cooperation. Realists argue that conflicts arise from cooperation, but their argument fails to explain international agreements on major world issues such as environmental issues, diverse trade and financial issues, health, and so on, in which major states sit together and cooperate to mitigate the negative consequences of these issues.

When we examine all of these liberal ideas in the context of China, some liberal authors claim that China is far more likely to be involved in the process of complex interdependence, as two liberal authors previously said. For example, China is more focuses on regional cooperation based on economic or trade benefits and interdependencies, and economic interdependence between China and the rest of the globe is increasing at a higher level.  And, as a result of this increased interdependence, the relationship between China and the rest of the globe has improved. International relation scholars has more open and positive view towards China’s future and its role on world politics as Lui argues that “China has begun to take a less confrontational, more sophisticated, more confident and at times more constructive approach to regional and global affairs.” China is now more dependent on world to sustain its economic growth. Liberal perspective on China can be defined as “China has become an engine of growth and a catalyst for regional integration”. China has taken an active role in a number of regional and international multilateral economic organizations.  Some liberals feel that China’s membership in these multilateral organizations encourages China to cooperate more, and that these may moderate and limit China’s foreign policy activity. China’s inclusion in multilateral economic organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and APEC demonstrates that these international organizations effectively engaged China and urged it to “play by the rules of the game.”

Increasing economic connectivity between governments allows for peace, since many countries choose to settle their differences peacefully. Similarly, given China’s prior relative isolation and lack of formalized cooperative experience, these organizations have provided China with a platform to collaborate with other countries and reduce conflict. At the same time, China has been working hard to resolve issues with its neighbors, such as India, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, and to preserve stability in the region in the area. Furthermore, China’s economic ties with the United States, as well as both countries’ economic interdependence, indicate that they often not wish to war. As a result, both countries will suffer equally as a result of this battle. The United States and China require each other for reciprocal progress, and as previous leaders of both nations realized, both will profit from mutual collaboration. China’s ties with South Korea have evolved considerably in the latter decade of the twentieth century, transforming China’s standing in South Korea from “revisionist power” to “status quo” power. During the 2008 financial crisis, China demonstrated its competence and promise as a responsible “citizen” by supporting global economic stability.


The world is understandably in the midst of one of its more turbulent eras. The coronavirus epidemic has only added to worldwide political instability at a time once the globe is in transition, with world power moving, the stalemate between the world’s major powers persisting, and a rules-based system dissolving as large states explain their commitment for multilateralism. If Ukraine becomes a lengthy test of power between Russia and the west, which appears to be the case, China will be the main geopolitical winner. When they met immediately before the invasion, China’s president, Xi Jinping, appears to have given Putin the go-ahead.  He’s now supporting peace initiatives. Increasing commodity prices have harmed China’s economy.  However, enhanced global supremacy is a tiny price to pay. In a nutshell, the emergence of Beijing, the collapse of confidence in the Global South as regional powers like India and Brazil failed to strengthen their economies, and the revival of “hard hedging,” have shaped the world order. By the latter, it implies nations in the region that play both sides (the US and China) in order to optimize their opportunities and liberty while avoiding choosing sides. As a result, the globe has become “more divided and volatile” in recent years.

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About Amna Malik 61 Articles
Author is the President, Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’ and ‘ The Asian Telegraph’.