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Why China is Different: Hegemony, Revolutions and the Rise of Contender States

Return of Marxian Macro-Dynamics in East Asia

ISBN: 978-1-78714-478-1, eISBN: 978-1-78714-477-4

ISSN: 0161-7230

Publication date: 8 August 2017


This paper attempts to critically question present IPE approaches and analyses that aim at assessing China’s role within the international political economy. Thus, unlike common theorizations that see the country as being integrated within US hegemony (Panitch and Gindin) or those accounts that claim that we are already witnessing the “terminal crisis” of US hegemony accompanied by a hegemonic transition toward China (Arrighi), the paper will argue that China was able to gain “relative geopolitical autonomy” as a result of the revolutionary processes it went through and eventually assert itself as a contender state, now just in the process of challenging US hegemony. Dissatisfied with existent theorizations of hegemony, I will be drawing on the critical edition of Gramsci’s Quaderni and attempt to offer a new perspective regarding the conceptualization thereof. Thus applying the elaborated framework of analysis to the current situation, I argue that unlike the US’s ability to counter the challenge of its traditional imperial rivals Germany and Japan as they developed under the grip of US hegemony, the country is facing difficulties in countering China’s ascent. However, while maintaining that China does indeed represent a challenge to US hegemony, particularly in East Asia, I will argue that the idea of a “crisis of US hegemony” is premature as China remains distant from fully realizing hegemonic relations, even at the regional level.




I wish to thank Alex Callinicos for his very useful comments on earlier versions of this chapter as well as Alejandro González for his assistance with the data.


Fusaro, L. (2017), "Why China is Different: Hegemony, Revolutions and the Rise of Contender States", Return of Marxian Macro-Dynamics in East Asia (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 32), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 185-223.



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