Submission Date


Document Type




Second Department

International Relations

Faculty Mentor

Glenda Chao

Second Faculty Mentor

Rebecca Evans


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Is China a Superpower? Will it become one? After half a century of establishing a strong international military presence, thriving economic growth, domestic/international political authority, and considerable cultural “soft power”, the PRC has emerged as a hegemon capable of competing in international geopolitics. Nevertheless, these questions remain unanswered. For this reason, this research explores what it means to be a superpower, whether China is or will be a superpower, and, importantly, what impact China’s rise has on the world. To do this, this research explores existing debates surrounding China’s current global status, the historical emergence of the PRC as a major international power, and, lastly, analyzes China’s implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative within Latin America, which is the quintessential representation of China’s continuing emergence as a 21st-Century superpower. Crucially, this research centers four axes of power—military, economic, political, and cultural power—around China’s historic memory of the “Century of Humiliation” to explain how and why Chinese leaders make the decisions they do. Ultimately, this research attempts to highlight the impact China's growth has on global peace, the environment, and social justice, especially within the countries impacted by the Belt and Road Initiative.

Open Access

Available to all.