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Global Impact Assessment in 2021 from the Atlantic Council


  1. Chinese influence is growing rapidly in both strength and reach across the world. Since the 1990s, China's "external capacity" —the influence a country can have on the rest of the world — has skyrocketed, while America’s external influence has remained largely unchanged since the 1980s and has declined somewhat in recent years.
  2. Over the past decade, China and the United States have changed their leading positions in relation to each other in several dozen countries, while the overall trend has weakened. However, over the past three decades, the average trend has clearly been in China's favor.
  3. In 1992, China had more influence than the United States in 33 countries, while the United States retained the lead in 160 countries.
  4. By 2020, China's influence potential surpassed that of the United States in sixty-one countries, while the United States' leadership dropped to 140 countries. While the United States is still ahead, its lead over China has shrunk in nearly all 140 countries since the end of the Cold War.
  5. From the end of the Cold War to the present, Chinese influence has undermined or supplanted the influence of Western countries in all geographic regions. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the pace of China's advancement as new and existing partners increase their dependence on China. Chinese influence outweighs US influence in much of Africa and Southeast Asia, and is growing in the former Soviet republics. Chinese influence has also undermined US advantages in South America, Western Europe, and East Asia.
  6. Germany is an opinion leader in most European countries.
  7. Russia has the greatest influence, primarily in Central Asia, although its ability to influence also extends to Belarus, its smaller and dependent neighbor, and Algeria, the third largest importer of Russian weapons in half a century.
  8. Meanwhile, the influence of the previous colonial powers is much more limited, French influence is scattered across North, West and South Africa, and the United Kingdom shows its greatest influence only in Ireland.


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