Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Mapped: The countries where China's influence has surpassed the U.S.

Data: Atlantic Council; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

As of 1980, China was the most influential player in just one country: Albania. Now, China is the leading power across most of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia and is catching up to the U.S. in its own hemisphere.

What we’re reading: That's according to a new report from the University of Denver and the Atlantic Council that seeks to measure the influence countries have on each other, and in so doing offers a dramatic portrait of China's rise.


  • The authors took the quantifiable aspects of two countries’ trade, security and diplomatic relationships (the value of goods traded, aid provided, arms transferred, etc.) and then looked at the balance in terms of how dependent one country was on another.
  • They note that some aspects of influence — the funding of proxy forces, say, or the strength of cultural influences — aren’t captured in this data.
  • What they do capture is a clear trend over the last three decades: America’s global influence has stagnated, Europe’s has waned, and China’s has rapidly expanded.

Breaking it down: Even in 2000, China ranked as most influential in only a handful of otherwise isolated states like Iran, Myanmar and Sudan. But in the early 2000s, China's influence surged as its economy expanded.

  • “The way influence works in the international system now is often not focused primarily on military influence, though that remains important,” Jonathan Moyer, one of the report’s co-authors, tells Axios.
  • It's China’s role at the center of global trade that generates the bulk of its influence.

The trend: The acceleration of China’s influence has slowed in recent years, but there's room to grow in the security sphere, particularly through weapons sales, Moyer says.

  • America’s shift toward protectionism is making it less competitive with China, says Mathew Burrows, another co-author. “The U.S. has bowed out from big regional trade agreements, and that has basically tilted the balance toward China."

State of play: The U.S. remains the most influential power in some 50 countries versus 34 for China, according to the study, including in nearly all of Latin America and in economic heavyweights like India, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

  • But based on the current trajectory, the map could look very different in 2040.
  • What to watch: The Biden administration has made an early push to engage with Southeast Asia, where the report finds that U.S. and Chinese influence is closely balanced in several countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Worth noting: To simplify our map, we colored countries for which the most influential power was France, Germany or the U.K. all as green.

  • Germany is the most influential country in nearly all of western and central Europe, while France is most influential in several African countries. The U.K. currently ranks as most influential only in Ireland.

Reading the tea leaves ahead of Boston's historic mayoral race

For the first time in history, a white man is not in serious contention to be the next mayor of Boston, a city with a checkered racial history.

Why it matters: The face of Democratic Party politics has changed, with more women and people of color running and winning races. As high-profile races like Boston's — and New York's — attract multiple people of color in a primary, some candidates say that allows for more ideological diversity, as well.

Keep reading... Show less

Rising gasoline prices signal trouble for climate change action

Cutting oil production before we cut our demand for oil could undermine much of the progress that needs to be made on climate change.

Why it matters: If companies cut back on producing oil but consumers don’t cut back on consuming it, demand will exceed supply and prices will shoot up. That’s bad for our pocketbooks and risks the transition to cleaner energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.

Keep reading... Show less

The case for global warming realism, rather than panic

It’s getting harder and harder to communicate the two essential realities of human-caused climate change: that our failure to slow and eventually stop it is contributing to devastating human suffering all over the world, and that it’s not too late to act.

The big picture: Experts have long told climate communicators —including scientists, journalists and politicians — that disaster porn immobilizes people, leaving them cowering in a corner. You've got to give them a sense of hope, the research shows.

Keep reading... Show less

Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

Keep reading... Show less

Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

Keep reading... Show less

Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories