While many analysts expect China to grab chances when the US is changing its global position, eminent China experts Howard French sees the opposite is happening. With a shrinking and aging population, China´s power is diminishing, he argues in The Atlantic. While the US have chances.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has until very recently appeared to be a global juggernaut—hugely expanding its economic and political relations with Africa; building artificial islands in the South China Sea, an immense body of water that it now proclaims almost entirely its own; launching the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with ambitions to rival the World Bank. The new bank is expected to support a Chinese initiative called One Belt, One Road, a collection of rail, road, and port projects designed to lash China to the rest of Asia and even Europe. Projects like these aim not only to boost China’s already formidable commercial power but also to restore the global centrality that Chinese consider their birthright.
As if this were not enough to worry the U.S., China has also showed interest in moving into America’s backyard. Easily the most dramatic symbol of this appetite is a Chinese billionaire’s plan to build across Nicaragua a canal that would dwarf the American-built Panama Canal. But this project is stalled, an apparent victim of recent stock-market crashes in China…
Not so long ago, conventional wisdom in China held that the country’s economy would soon overtake America’s in size, achieving a GDP perhaps double or triple that of the U.S. later this century. As demographic reality sets in, however, some Chinese experts now say that the country’s economic output may never match that of the U.S.
With American Baby Boomers entering retirement, the United States has its own pressing social-safety-net costs. What is often neglected in debates about swelling entitlement spending, however, is how much better America’s position is than other countries’. Once again, numbers tell the story best: By the end of the century, China’s population is projected to dip below 1 billion for the first time since 1980. At the same time, America’s population is expected to hit 450 million. Which is to say, China’s population will go from roughly four and a half times as large as America’s to scarcely more than twice its size.
Even as China’s workforce shrinks, America’s is expected to increase by 31 percent from 2010 to 2050. This growing labor supply will boost economic growth, strengthen the tax base, and relieve pressure on the Social Security system. At the same time, Americans will continue to enjoy a substantial advantage over the Chinese in terms of per capita income. This advantage in wealth will continue to underwrite U.S. security commitments and capabilities around the world.
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