The world’s balance of power is shifting as China establishes itself as a powerful competitor to the current superpower, the USA. China is a rival of the USA on two dimensions; influence and ideology. The tension between two rivals may be termed a ‘repeat’ of Cold War-era dynamics. A more apt comparison may be the years preceding World War I when much of Europe was sitting on a powder keg of hostilities and overlapping territorial claims that required only two bullets to ignite a war. The difference now is that the great rivals have access to nuclear weapons, and with artificial intelligence, they could be on the crossover of creating another tool that could wipe out mankind. Failure to maintain rationally cooperative relationships among nuclear powers can wreak havoc not only upon each other but on the entire world. Nevertheless, they are intimately connected and intertwined. Above all other factors, the rapidly increasing dominance of China has the greatest impact on geostrategic evolution today. The rivalry between the United States and China is all-encompassing, but at its core rests economic competition. In terms of geo-economics, China takes the lead, while America excels in military might. At its core, this clash is bifurcated into the objective of upholding American supremacy in technology and defence, versus the need for equitable economic competition. It is important to note that the US does not need to go to war to maintain its technological and military superiority instead; it is doing so by denying high technology, particularly the type that could limit China’s capability for ‘Artificial intelligence’ and military advancement. China’s deepening economic inroads globally and its assertive military posture in selective regions are a continuous worry for the USA. As China continues to rise and the United States remains a superpower, the real test is whether they can establish a cooperative alliance. The great rivals have access to nuclear weapons, and with artificial intelligence, they could be on the crossover of creating another tool that could wipe out mankind. The transitional world order is being shaped, not only by the US-China rivalry but also by Russian assertiveness, Europe’s struggle for autonomy, and the ambitions of the other middle powers. The notion of a ‘new Cold War’ is a misleading analogy, as the current state of affairs is vastly different from the adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. China, while a rival to the USA, is an economic powerhouse with a significant global presence, unlike the economically weak and limited Soviet Union. The alliances of today are overlapping and shifting, unlike the aligned or nonaligned countries of the ‘Cold War era’. It is difficult to comprehend that China, with its vast savings, motivated population, huge markets, and sheer determination, will not achieve relative superiority and prosperity. China’s overall economy will likely surpass that of the US, even if individual Americans remain more prosperous on average than individual Chinese. China is already a more significant export market than the US for many significant countries. Additionally, China is investing almost as much of its GDP in research and development as leading high-income countries of the world. The combination of economic size and improving technology is making China an increasingly formidable military power. While the US expresses concerns about this, it has no moral right to do so. Managing the competition between these two rival powers is an uphill task. While a hot war between nuclear powers may seem unlikely, large-scale friction and a breakdown in necessary cooperation over economic relations seem probable. In 1971, Pakistan played a vital part in facilitating the momentous visit of former USA Secretary of State Henry Kissinger from Islamabad to Beijing. However, the conflict of interests between the USA and China has prompted concerns worldwide; for Pakistan specifically, it raises questions over how such a development will affect its connections to both countries as of today. Pakistan’s strategic relationship with China is a necessity, but it is presently insufficient to address the country’s economic and security challenges. The USA has traditionally been an important bilateral economic and security partner of Pakistan and estrangement can harm Pakistan directly or through India. As long as Pakistan meets Washington’s desired ends without compromising respective vital national interests, it will not come under pressure to choose between the USA and China. If Pakistan is perceived as aiding China in undermining vital US economic or geopolitical interests, it may be forced to choose sides. To avoid such a predicament, Pakistan must strive to strengthen itself internally and increase its charm to the USA as well as China. A weak Pakistan would be constantly plagued by the fear of having to make a difficult choice. Hence, Pakistan must enhance its potential and capabilities to become a valuable asset that neither the US nor China can afford to lose. By building its strength and value, Pakistan can ensure that it remains a key player in the international community, regardless of the shifting dynamics between China and the United States. “Chinese thinkers developed strategic thought that placed a premium on victory through psychological advantage and preached the avoidance of direct conflict.” Henry Kissinger The writer is a retired Pakistan Army officer.