China and Global Economic Stratification in an Interdependent World

This article examines the contemporary rise of China and its new role on the global stage within the context of semiperipheral mobility. Unlike earlier discourse on the rise of China that revolved around questions of hegemonic ascent, the focus here is on the impact of China’s advancement within the structural confines of the modern capitalist world-economy. What happens when a country like China, which makes up close to 20% of the world’s population, moves from peripheral state to semiperipheral state in a short period of time? Immanuel Wallerstein had argued that stratification of the world-economy took the shape of a three-layered structure with majority of the world’s population at the bottom, a decidedly smaller middle stratum, and a small percentage at the top of the hierarchy. Through an examination of global economic stratification from 1990 through 2015, China’s movement into the semiperiphery is shown to dramatically change the shape of this three-layered structure. This change that sometimes causes the distribution to appear quad-modal or multimodal is primarily because of the movement of more of the world’s population into the middle stratum of world-economy. This massive movement toward the middle is unprecedented. Furthermore, this new shape of the stratified world economy, will create an increasing amount of pressure on the countries in the middle that may translate into open military aggression and/or at the same time, a rise in regional and multilateral organizations such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.

Licence Information:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material.

Grell-Brisk, M. (2017) 'China and Global Economic Stratification in an Interdependent World', Palgrave Communications 3: 17087

Subscribe to CGDKN

Stay informed with our regular email updates.