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China: Uncertain Leap Forward

First published: The World Today, Volume 66, Number 12, December 2010

Is this the Chinese century, and will Beijing again dominate the global system as it did from before the birth of Christ to roughly 1800? These weighty questions have received additional impetus in the wake of the devastating financial crisis and its tough and protracted consequences for the United States and other western nations. The contrast with an economically and increasingly politically self-confident China could hardly be more stark. Yet, global futures cannot be projected in the linear and a political form, which many employ. There are serious challenges ahead for China.

The comprehensive reforms unleashed by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 set China off on an explosive path to become America’s main geopolitical rival, the world’s second largest economy, its biggest exporter and its major creditor with over three trillion dollars of foreign financial assets, or the equivalent of three quarters of its gross domestic product (GDP).

By 2030, on current form, China’s GDP will overtake the US…. more