Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth argue that despite China's impressive growth in material power, the United States will remain the international system's hegemonic leader for the foreseeable future.1 Implicit in this assertion is the assumption that China is not in a position to undermine U.S. hegemony until it overtakes the United States in overall material power. This view, however, overlooks two issues critical to scholars' understanding of the power dynamics between China and the United States.

The first critical issue concerns the nonmaterial aspects of Chinese power, an issue that Brooks and Wohlforth assume away. Nonmaterial power, by definition, involves a state's capacity to govern a society from which it can mobilize potential military and economic strength to cope with geopolitical challenges.2 In recent decades, China's spectacular economic growth has produced...

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