Is China going to replace the US as the global superpower in the near future? No, says China watcher Kaiser Kuo in SupChina. “Even if China and the U.S. continue to grow at roughly their current rates, China’s per capita GDP won’t have overtaken that of the U.S.”
No, China will not likely be the sole superpower on earth by the year 2030. Even if China and the U.S. continue to grow at roughly their current rates, China’s per capita GDP won’t have overtaken that of the U.S. If Chinese military spending continues at its current rate of growth as a percentage of GDP, even if the U.S. cuts back, it will still dwarf China in military spending. By almost any measure of ability to project military power globally, China will still likely lag behind the U.S.: It won’t possess nearly so large a blue water navy, will lag behind the U.S. significantly in long-range bombers, and will still have a nuclear force only a fraction of the size of the U.S.’s. Culturally, it’s very difficult to imagine that in only 12 years, China’s share of global cultural mind space will rival that of the U.S.
China has only begun to actually think of itself as a superpower. I think historians will look back and see 2008 as an important inflection point, and 2017 perhaps as the year that (with Trump’s inauguration in January and Xi’s “New Era” enshrined in the Communist Party’s constitution) China’s arrival as a superpower was generally acknowledged. The U.S. may appear to be in decline, but it has a long, long way to fall. Probably never before in human history has one polity held the preponderance of comprehensive power — military, technological, economic, cultural — that the U.S. has held from the end of World War II to the present.
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