As opposed to all the other polarities, a multipolar system is one that consists of more than two super or great powers. Middle and small powers group themselves alongside the large power or under its protection, which is usually for economic, military and ideological reasons. Multi-polarity was seen to exist up until the end of the Second World War but then it disintegrated during the Cold War period where there was a sense of real bi-polarity with the USA and the Soviet Union. However, with the rise of China and the strengthening of the EU, the global system at the present moment of time could be seen as multipolar.
The global system could definitely be viewed as a multipolar system if the system is analysed from an economic perspective. With the world recession and credit crunch coming into effect in 2009 many of the traditional leading states have heavily been damaged but some have emerged with prosperity in such times and have minimally effected. The USA suffered a lot with their economy when they took a hit with their credit rating as Standard & Poor’s downgraded their credit rating from AAA to AA+.
This shows that even the USA with the vast military and economic resources and probably the only one true superpower the world has seen even were not immune to the global recession. And this allowed the Eastern nation states in particular to thrive on such vulnerability of Western states. The likes of China and India flexed the muscles and increase their powers by shifting from a middle/regional power to great powers. This was partly achieved through the use of soft power, especially in China.
They started to increase their trade in Africa and actually invest in the infrastructure in that continent as well as helping to teach Mandarin in over fifty schools in Africa, all of this was done to tie the economies of African countries closer to China, so that China benefit in the long term and increase their global interests outside of South East Asia. Even India and Brazil have had vibrant economies come to fruition and are a real force on the world stage, hence showing that not all the power, especially economically, lies with the USA.
Conversely, due to capitalism taking a forefront in the eyes of the Chinese government it has enabled China to grow ten percent per annum and now sit second in terms of Nominal GDP. I addition to this, according to a report published by Bloomberg, China have now increased their expenditure on their military to ? 106bn. Considering that in 1989 China was on the brink of a civil war to how prosperous it is now can be considered to be incredibly impeccable and thus some view our global system as unipolar with China leading the way or at the very least bipolar (if he USA is considered a superpower despite its economic problems).
However, one cannot pin the rise of China solely on the reason why the global system in now not multipolar because the recent demise of the European Union must be taken into account. When the EU was initially formed and up until around 2005 it was a very powerful continent with the free movement of labor and trade contributing to its success. But the economy of the EU as whole took a huge blow with nation states such as Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece requiring a large amount of support to just keep the system ongoing.
Greece in particular was hit the hardest with large amounts of unemployment, political instability and the anarchism that took place on the streets of Athens, the EU and the world looked to China in time of crisis. Everyone wanted China to effectively bail out Greece and they are still currently pushing forth the idea. Even President Obama was quoted saying “We must borrow billions from China to bail out Greece. ” This is illustrates the clear power of China that they possess above the rest, including USA, because that quote essentially has Obama conceding and admitting that the one real force in our global system is China .
Therefore, some may see this as clear evidence that China has risen so far and so quickly that they have almost got the global system into one of uni-polarity, with other states such as USA now falling short of their power. On the other hand, the twenty first century has shown real signs of uni-polarity as opposed to multi-polarity. The reason for this is that the USA has really taken on the role of acting as the “World’s Policeman”.
A prime example of this was witnessed in 2003 with the US led invasion of Iraq when USA believed that Iraq possessed Mass Weapons of Destruction (WMDs) and therefore went and invaded Iraq whilst also using hard power to uproot Sadam Hussein. However this did consequently disrupt and tarnish the global image of USA and the war was later declared as illegal by Kofi Annan despite USA claiming that it was pre-emptive self-defence. The sense of the uni-polarity from the USA being the “World’s Policeman” is also highlighted by the combination of carrying out this role as well as pursuing their global interests.