Bipolarity is the Wrong Concept for U.S.-China Relations

Bipolarity is the Wrong Concept for U.S.-China Relations

When it comes to crafting policy, an all-consuming focus on bipolarity could be utterly disastrous. The Biden administration should junk the concept. 

A two-superpower world is here again, and it should not matter. Disproportionate focus on China could distract the Biden administration from issues that ultimately matter more.

Specialists use the term “bipolarity” to describe the state of world politics when two powerful countries far outstrip all others. These two countries are called “superpowers” or “poles.” Just as the north and south poles stand at opposite ends of the world geographically, the two superpowers supposedly stand at opposite ends of the world politically.

With China’s rise, many affirm the arrival, and importance, of a bipolar world. Some foresee, even urge, a Cold War–style U.S.-Chinese relationship. Even those who do not still mine history for lessons on how to face China today.