U.S. vs. China: Competitors

U.S VS China: Our Greatest Competitor

China has been on the rise for quite some time. It is time to recognize their place on a shifting world stage.

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If you've been keeping up with the news lately, you've no doubt heard about President Donald Trump's back and forth with China. Whether he's unloading tweets about unfair trade practices or talking about another tariff hike, China has begun to saturate media as an entity of international interest. It is time to recognize that China is beginning to challenge the U.S. in ways many thought to be impossible only a few years ago.

China is the world's second largest nation, superseded only by the United States. It is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world today: China enjoyed a 6.5% growth rate in 2017 while the U.S. only grew at a rate of approximately 3% in 2017. Recently, China has endured somewhat of a stifled growth rate since earlier in 2017 it had a growth rate of 2.7%. Some may purport that this is due to Trump's tariffs and others would point to other factors involved. The thing to note here is that China's economy is growing at a faster pace than the U.S. While the U.S. certainly remains the titan in today's economic world, China is beginning to realize that it, too, can flex its economic muscle through retaliatory tariffs and increased spending on military endeavors.

Two of those prominent military endeavors include China's island building in the disputed South China Sea and Chinese military efforts to have a greater presence across the Asian and African continents. South China is a hotly contested area of passage for many trade ships. In an attempt to better control the region, China has been building islands and attempting to claim that these islands are under the sovereign rule of the PRC (despite the U.N.'s dismissal of those claims). This is alarming to the U.S. and its allies as China tries to expand its naval reach and power. In response, the U.S. navy has engaged in some efforts to counter those claims with overt flybys over land that the PRC claims to be under its jurisdiction.

In regard to Africa, China has engaged in a great deal of infrastructure building as well as military buildup. One of China's more prominent projects is certainly the Belt and Road project. In an effort to further expand its economic and cultural influence, China has started a project meant to mimic the very profitable Silk Road of ancient times. This is certainly a threat to U.S. interests as well as power since it once more is an attempt to expand Chinese influence across multiple regions. Furthermore, the Belt and Road project is part of China's larger mission of expanding its presence in Africa. The first Chinese overseas base to be established has been built in Djibouti. In general, China's increased military presence in Africa has contributed to the PRC's efforts to move into what some experts see as the world's next sector of massive labor and economic growth.

Besides China's efforts to outpace the U.S. economy, some believe that China has blossomed into a new era of positive cultural growth. Backed by years of great economic growth, the Chinese people have been able to flourish at a time when the American dream seems to be faltering. Whether or not one believes that the U.S. is undergoing some hard times, other countries see the perceived divisions of the American people as a growing sign of the American juggernaut's weakness. In its place, ideas of the power behind Chinese culture have risen. Take for example the recent debacle surrounding Dolce and Gabbana's canceled fashion show. The Chinese response to the fashion duo's racist comments and advertising demonstrates an unprecedented showing of Chinese national pride and push back against stereotypes. There is a newfound cultural empowerment as China continues to rise and challenge the U.S. on a number of fronts.

Perhaps most worrying, however, is Chinese investment into military developments specifically meant to counter and diminish American influence. This is apparent in China's South China Sea build up first and foremost. The entire reason behind any Chinese naval improvement (at least for now) is in order to further bolster its position as a regional power in the South China Sea, as evidenced by its already tight foothold on the region. According to Admiral Phil Davidson, "China is no longer a rising power but an arrived great power and peer competitor" in regards to China's growing and potent naval power. Besides efforts to expand its Navy, China has also taken direct measures to improve its aerial combat proficiency against the U.S. While China is not focusing on engaging in direct combat with the U.S., it is attempting to mitigate the advanced tactical and technological nature of America's Air Force. According to a Business Insider article which quotes The Project Air Force team at Rand Corp., "It is important to recognize that many of the PLA efforts in the military aerospace sector focus on fielding of specific capabilities in sufficient quantities to deter the United States from entering a conflict; the PLA would vastly prefer deterrence over actual combat operations."

It would appear as though China's high profile endeavors across the globe are actively engaging in operations meant to supersede and weaken the United States. Any gain of influence for the Chinese is subsequently a loss of influence for the U.S. It is important that average citizens as well as U.S. leaders recognize this. It is critical that the U.S. remains unified force within, and that it takes the necessary steps outwardly to remain the world power that it is today. I would like to point out that I am in no way advocating for a new cold war, but instead a greater awareness and attention to zero-sum games on the international stage.

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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.
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The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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You Don't Have To Be Born Into The Family You're Meant To Be With

Water will always be thicker than blood.

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According to Merriam-Webster, the primary definition of a family is "the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children", meaning to be a family, you must be related to others by blood. I used to run by this ideal up until high school took over my life with full force, but, as my friend told me one night in middle of our conversation, you can't get through life without friends.

You can't walk a pathway full of obstacles on your own and expect to come out of the other side unscathed, especially mentally. You can't see yourself face-to-face with your worst enemies and conquer your worst fears just by boosting your own confidence (unless you have an amazing capability of keeping your self-esteem afloat just by yourself).

In essence, life is meant for you to be born into a group of people and take on the world as if there's no one else you're meant to live with. To live is to survive with spirit, and friends are the bridge to the emotional freedom that blood-related family can't always bring.

And there's no reason to realize only if you have a large group of friends or if your family isn't as supportive as friends. It's something you come to realize with experience, and you won't know it's true until you find yourself sitting at a lunch table laughing so hard with these completely random people until you can't breathe.

It amazes me when I'm thinking late at night about how I came to meet my best friends that there was a completely randomized set of events that happened to end with two different people sharing common interests. Who would've thought that in a sea of seven billion people (that keeps changing every second), I'd be able to find myself identifying my extended family as a girl who loves reading, one who loves fashion, another who loves pull all-nighters to watch Netflix, and so many other people around me, too.

It's a diverse group of people that I identify as my family outside of home, and I know that college being just around the corner is going to change my life. But that just means my family keeps growing. You don't have to be related to someone to call them family. My friends and I openly consider ourselves to be sisters, and it's going to stay that way as long as we stay together.

One thing I can agree with in the true definition of "family", though, is that no external force can break apart a bond. And if there's something that happens to break us away from one another, we weren't meant to be family in the first place. It's a constant cycle throughout life of figuring out where you belong, but you'll eventually come to understand who you were meant to be stuck with.

There's a sense of thankfulness that comes after the realization that you've found people you can completely be yourself with. They'll forgive, they'll share, they'll love, and they'll do anything to make sure that you know that you're one of the pack.

Just a few days ago at a party, we were all glued to the TV screen while playing "Bandersnatch", and everyone seemed so invested. It was comical to see their reactions to scenes that I had already seen months before, and because the movie was an interactive game, when they made the wrong decision or when I accidentally spoiled the next scene, they would yell (out of playful spirit). It was exactly like a family, and though I wasn't the closest of friends with a few people there, it was nice to see that everyone was bonding over the movie.

It's the smallest of moments when you make the largest of discoveries, and over the past three years, I've found out that there's not much difference between family and true friendship. Friends will unconditionally love and support you just as your blood relatives might, but the only big difference that I can immediately think of is that the people in your life will show you love in different ways based on how they know how to show it.

And that's what makes you love them all the more.

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