Are Russia and China rising to superpowers?

The recent geopolitical issues in the East China Sea and Ukraine between America on the one side and China and Russia on the other side prompt the following question: Are China and Russia rising to superpowers?

China’s current defense budget tends to rise by more than 10% each year. It has invested in an arsenal of precision short to medium range ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines equipped with torpedoes and long-range anti-ship missiles, electronic warfare, anti-satellite weapons, modern fighter jets, integrated air defense and high-tech command, control and communications systems. Russia is also modernizing its defense forces after more than a decade of neglect. The trend of modernizing the defense budget implies that the two powers will gain importance in geopolitical issues. As a result, those two economies will gain more momentum.

America’s technical advancement secured for decades its position as a superpower. Those advances include unmanned systems, stealthy aircraft, undersea warfare and complex engineering that is necessary to enable a cohesive control of all the systems. While America’s defense budget tends to decrease until 2016, its current budget of roughly 600 billion US Dollars is by far outstanding when compared with China’s roughly 145 billion US Dollars and Russia’s roughly 60 billion US Dollars (Who’s afraid of America, 2015). Russia increased its total defense budget up to 60 percent from 2015 to 2016 (Russia to Up Nuclear Weapons, 2013).

It seems that China and Russia are far away from becoming superpowers but two points are striking: 1. China’s and Russia’s enormous rise of their defense budgets and 2. America’s continuous drop of its defense budget. One could argue that America’s drop of its defense budget follows a strategy. Elbridge Colby of the Centre for a New American Security argues: “The more successful the offset strategy is in extending US conventional advantages, the more attractive US adversaries will find strategies of nuclear escalation.” Therefore, it could actually be counterproductive to increase America’s defense budget, as it would only strengthen current geopolitical tensions.


Russia to Up Nuclear Weapons Spending 50% by 2016. (2013). Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

Who’s afraid of America? (2015). Retrieved June 16, 2015, from


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