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China As Superpower. Yes Or No.

Posted in Recommended Reading

I am usually not interested in trying to divine whether or not China is going to become a superpower. My lack of interest stems both from the inherent vagueness of the term “superpower” and from the fact that all such predictions are based on today’s facts, rather than on some supernatural ability to predict the future. Having thrown out these caveats, I have to admit there is a really interesting and thoughtful “debate” going on right now between John Pomfret (whose knowledge of China I greatly respect) and the China Comment blog (whose knowledge of China I also greatly respect.
Pomfret is in the China will not be a superpower corner, while China Comment says it will. Pomfret puts forth his views in a recent Washington Post article, entitled, “A Long Wait at the Gate to Greatness” and China Comment rebuts them in a post, entitled, “A Weak China?
What I see as important is not so much their positions on the will it or won’t it issue, but rather their excellent analysis of China’s situation today and how that situation may shape its future. Greatly simplified, Pomfret and China Comment disagree on the following:

Demographics. Pomfret says China’s demographic situation is dire. China Comment says China’s labor force has plenty of room to expand.
The Economy. Pomfret says it is overrated. China Comment says look at purchasing power growth.
The Environment. Pomfret says it is bad. China Comment says it can improve.
Ideology. Pomfret says China has none. China Comment says China is in the process of developing its mission.

The glass is both half full and half empty and both are worth a read.

  • 史狄夫

    There are some supernatural predictions regarding the future of china, which were written in Tang Dynasty.
    All previous 41 predictions turned out correct. We are currently in articles 42 and 43. Take a look:

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    I don’t think there’s anything that can stop China becoming a world superpower because of the shear wealth and depth of natural resources. However, to a large degree their development as a superpower will depend on the relationships they form with other current superpowers. Given their reluctance to change their ways and accept compromise this may hold them back.

  • Stephan Larose

    I agree that the question regarding “superpower” status is a moot point. The world is headed towards multipolarity, with major powers but no “superpowers” per say. If superpower is a reflection of military might, I would suggest no country pursue that course, it is absolutely the hugest waste of resources possible. China faces big challenges, its water tables have dropped precipitously, and pollution has toxified the land more than in any other country. Plus, a huge proportion of its loans are non-performing. China’s priorities will be green development, raising efficiency, and reducing inequality. Otherwise, the instabilities that result could be devastating.

  • Ashre

    China is a super power now – in that it is doing anc can do the very same things that US has done for years – supporting dictatorships and autocracies that lack any democratic and people support – and the pity is US can now cry hoarse that China is playing a bad game. While the sad fact is US cannot do anything about it(take Yemen for example), a country capabe of doing such things is considered a superpower. The superpower title is not based on anything else – the test is simply based on whether a country can wield hegemonistic control on the world. If the answer is yes, it qualifies. And the Olympic opening ceremony does prove that China has the wherewithal.

  • anon

    The answer of whether china will be a superpower is definitely yes. After years of bullying, after years of humiliation, she has overcame all the odds and remain wise and adamant in her policy towards big threatening powers. Wake up china

  • outcast

    Nice necrothreading. I’d like to respond to anon by saying maybe China overcame all odds mainly by overcoming itself. So much of the challenges it has faced were a result of it’s own doing, either the Qing dynasty, the KMT, or Chairman Mao. China’s greatest threat has always been the people who lead it, which has lead to one disaster after another. Maybe anon would care to remind me how many millions of chinese starved to death during the great leap forward.

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