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The world is at a pivotal moment. The world’s two biggest superpowers, the United States and China, are undergoing an identity crisis. In the coming decade, China will likely overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. At the same time, the United States is locked in a battle over how to curtail its ballooning debt. These simultaneous trends have left questions over the future global roles of these states. Will China become more assertive with its greater international influence? Will the United States turn inward as it deals with souring attitudes toward foreign interventionism? Answering these questions, and others, will be critically important in forecasting the future of international relations. However, one component is often lost in these calculations, and it is found among those set to inherit the next generation of leadership: the youth.

My thesis: “The World in Transition” seeks to test the perceptions of youth in China and the United States regarding their own country’s global role, as well as their perception of their superpower counterpart. As such, a general idea can be formed of the direction each relative country will take, as the opinions of the current generation will undoubtedly influence how each state formulates policies now and in the future.

For example, the thesis asks 18-25 year old individuals in both countries to reveal the priorities they hold for their country. Interesting data has already begun to surface. Preliminary results show many American youth are willing to trade military dominance to focus more on domestic affairs. On the Chinese side, the majority of Chinese youth surveyed so far did not agree that they should sacrifice civil liberties for national security.

When comparing the two sides, some interesting trends have come up. For example, a similar amount of Chinese and American youth both agree that their respective country should take on a greater role in multilateral institutions like the United Nations. A similar amount also thought their respective country’s foreign policy was seen negatively in the international community.

With this data, I will test the hypothesis that both American and Chinese youth wish to orient their superpower roles away from traditional global military dominance and toward greater emphasis on domestic development and international cooperation.

The thesis is still in its data retrieval stage. In order to achieve a greater understanding of how American and Chinese youth view their countries’ roles on the global stage, more survey results are needed. If you would like to assist with this research, please pass along the following survey links to 18-25 year olds. American youth who take the survey are eligible to win a $50 Best Buy gift card.

American youth:

Chinese youth:


  • The Law, Frederic Bastiat

    Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.