After the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815), Britain emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century. Unchallenged at sea, British dominance was later described as Pax Britannica, a period of relative peace in Europe and the world (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemon and adopted the role of global policeman.
The UK did not have the dominant total economic GDP during much of the 1815-1914 period.
The UK had a bit more GDP than the US in 1870.
The US had more than double the UK economy by 1913.
On a purchasing power parity basis China and India had much larger economies than either the UK or the US until about 1900.
After World War One, the United States was the world’s leading creditor, the world’s largest owner of gold, and controlled the international gold standard. The US had massive deflation with the great depression. Most countries after WW1 had to re-peg their currency to gold at a diminished rate. They permanently lost value.
By the end of 1916, American investors had loaned two billion dollars to the UK and France. The US had GDP of $50 billion in 1916. 4% of todays $20 trillion US economy would be $800 billion.
The US was also the dominant world supplier of oil. The US is now returning to being the top producer of oil.
After WW2 the US had domination in military and commercial aviation and all other economic and other factors.
China just passing the US in GDP on Purchasing power basis does not translate to any world power. China passing the US in a decade or so on an exchange rate basis will matter more but that still does not translate into world power. China’s economy was bigger from 1800-1900 and that still did not matter.
China’s global financial plans
China is expected to put $1.3 trillion into the Belt and Road initiative by 2027. This is bigger than the Marshall plan with an inflation-adjusted $110 billion.
Chinese companies now hold close to 11% of all FDI assets globally, up from just 6% of the total in 2007. That’s second only to the United States, and approximately double the FDI stock of British, Japanese, or German companies.
China is providing countries in Asia and Africa with loans in exchange for building key infrastructure like ports, airports, factories, roads, rail and mines. The debt will help China to get more influence over those countries. However, the US already holds influence over most countries and over the richest developed countries in Europe and Asia.
China is building a rail, high-speed rail and pipeline system across Europe and Asia.
China has doubled its annual trade with Africa by 2015 to $222 billion. This is three times United States trade with Africa. China-Africa trade is expected to reach a trillion dollars by 2025.
China’s trade with Latin America reaching $244 billion in 2017. This is more than U.S. trade.
Cyber and Space power could become more important than naval power and air power
Naval and air power have been more important to protecting and controlling world trade and projecting power around the world.
Cyber power, space power and certain kinds of financial power are more important as means of control and influence.
Information technology, artificial intelligence and financial technology innovation are vital to maintaining technological leadership and for robustly generating new companies.
SpaceX BFR and other new space capabilities will extend the importance of space beyond GPS and spy satellites.
China is becoming a clear number 2 and getting Asia region dominance
China is becoming the clear number 2 in military and economic power. China is getting clear Asia region dominance. Asia regional dominance is not a simple or easy thing because Japan and India both have their strengths.
China is becoming competitive with the US in different and growing areas. This looks like sustainable and comprehensive competitiveness. The Soviet Union did not last and was competitive economically.