原文标题：What kind of superpower will China be?
By 2030, China will exercise dominance while still being only an upper middle-income country
Can a country that is also not amongst the richest in the world and not at the economic and technological frontier be a superpower?
That is one of the most common questions raised against the central assertion in my recent book that China’s economic dominance is more imminent, broader in scope and greater in magnitude than is currently imagined.
My projections suggest that by 2030, China will not be po#8744 indeed, its per capita GDP (in PPP terms) will be more than half that of the United States, and certainly greater than the average per capita GDP in the world.
China’s economic dominance will still be unique, because historically, the dominant powers (the United Kingdom and United States) have been rich, indeed amongst the richest relative to their competitors, when they have been dominant.
In China’s case that will not be so. But neither will it be a case of a poor country wielding power. China will be a middle-income or upper-middle-income country.
So, perhaps China’s future economic dominance should more aptly be described as that of a “precocious” rather than “premature” superpower as Martin Wolf of the Financial Times has described China.
But is precocious superpowerdom even possible? History is clearly on the side of those who believe that dominance requires a high standard of living. Why might this be the case?
First, a poor country might be inwardly focused because the tasks of maintaining internal stability and achieving a higher standard of living are the government’s major if not exclusive preoccupation.
In this case, projecting power internationally will have to be subordinated to addressing more pressing domestic challenges.
Internal fragility sits uneasily, or is just downright incompatible, with external dominance.
Second, a poor country might not be able to raise the resources – at least on a sustained basis – for the projection of power internationally.
The classic example is military resources. These will have to be financed.
But the poorer a country, the more difficult it might be to tax the people to raise resources.
For example, tax revenues generally rise with the level of development. Russia sustained military dominance for some time beyond its underlying economic potential, but eventually economics caught up with geopolitics.
North Korea is a more extreme example of external power being incommensurate with internal stability and wealth. North Korea can be a nuisance, a country that can cause trouble, but hardly one that can exercise international dominance.
A third reason why a poor country cannot project dominance is that it may not have the “soft power” attributes – such as democracy, open society, and pluralistic values – for dominance.
Put differently, the leadership that comes with dominance is only really possible if it inspires followership.
And followership comes when the dominant country stands “for” something that commands universal or near-universal appeal.
The fourth reason, related to the previous attribute, is that only a rich country – which by definition is at the frontier of economic and technological possibilities – can be a fount or source of ideas, technology, institutions, and practices for others to follow and absorb.
A poor country is less likely to be such a model worthy of emulation and an inspiration to follow.
So, clearly, dominance is inconsistent with being extremely poor, but if one reflects on these points, it is worth noting that with some exceptions, neither does dominance necessarily require being among the richest countries.
There is, for example, no reason why internal cohesion, the ability to raise resources for external purposes, the possibility of being democratic, or possessing some emulation-worthy national narrative or values or ideals is inconsistent with being a middle-income power, as China is likely to be by 2030.
Moreover, China’s current low standard of living is entirely consistent with different forms of the exercise of dominance.
For example, China has used its surpluses to provide aid to and finance investments in Africa, extracting in return the closure of Taiwanese embassies.
It has used its size to strengthen trade and financial relationships in Asia and Latin America.
(China’s offer to build an alternative to the Panama Canal to boost Colombia’s prospects is one dramatic illustration of this phenomenon.)
More recently, it is to China that the world will have to turn should things turn ugly in Europe and should additional resources be required to bail out some of the faltering European economies. (“China is Spain’s best friend,” effused Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in April 2011, on the occasion of the Chinese president’s visit.)
Most strikingly, China has been following an exchange rate policy that has adversely affected not just the United States and Europe but a number of emerging markets that compete with China, including Brazil, Mexico, India, Turkey, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
But the rest of the world has been powerless to change China’s policies. If this is not dominance, what is?
Even the mighty United States has repeatedly threatened action against China but has not been able to carry it through. It barks but cannot bite.
The shift in the balance of power in the US-China relationship is especially striking given that it was only about a decade ago that the United States was able to muscle China into radically opening its agriculture, goods, and services market as part of China’s accession to the WTO.
So two possible conclusions suggest themselves.
A form of dominance that naturally inspires followership and which might be necessary to create or build systems and institutions – as the United States did after World War II – might possibly elude China for some time, especially if it is unable to make the political transition to democracy.
But other forms of dominance – to change the policies of other countries and resisting change to its own in a way that can result in systemically negative externalities – are already being exercised by China at low levels of income.
As China becomes considerably bigger and richer over the next two decades, what should we expect?
by Herry (View MyPage) on Nov 01, 2011 09:26 AM | Hide replies
Difference between US and China US No.1 Economy – All the countries depend on it… If China becomes no.1 – it depends on all other countries….thats the difference….
Re: No.1 ?????????
by shyam ale (View MyPage) on Nov 06, 2011 06:01 PM
how all the countries depend on us…actually us is depend on china and other powerful countries to maintain there economy by selleing there reserve…. and low cost goods from china.
That is good news 🙂
by catchmeifucan (View MyPage) on Nov 01, 2011 03:41 AM | Hide replies
China will be a super power of unimaginable magnitude is good news to us Indians as by 2030, China would have conquered India and we will be chinese by then 🙂 Thanks Congress.. for making India the second biggest economy in the world
Re: That is good news 🙂
by punter ponting (View MyPage) on Nov 01, 2011 06:18 AM
Now start learning chinese, and eating pork…
None can predict.
by shiva (View MyPage) on Oct 31, 2011 06:48 AM | Hide replies
It is like asking a poor man, how he will be if he becomes very rich. What he says will hardly be realised in the end. He can be the nicest, filial to the core, generous etc. But when he becomes rich; well, he will just be different. Most becomes slaves to wealth. People do change over time, especially, when one is loaded.
Likewise, China will just act its new found strength. What is the use of power and money if one remains the same? That is human nature; after all, countries are led by humans with all their foibles. So expect the unexpected!
If we become rich, our attitudes also will change. There will be newer problems when our stomachs are full! But for us, we have neighbours who will not allow us any luxury. Also, our dirty politics to bring us down! Just look at the postings in this site, aren’t they nauseating to the core?
So, none can say how China will act. When they have a free rein, they can be just different. And also, there are many poor who will suck up to them for favours! Hopefully, we are not one of them!
China wants to be a hegemonic super power!?
by Ravi (View MyPage) on Oct 30, 2011 06:00 PM | Hide replies
But will it become one! IMHO! China will never be allowed to become one bcos of so many interlinked situations of so many of the rich & Middle income asian nations such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Vietnam, Philippines & Indonesia. So final outcome China will never become a superpower.
Did China ever claim to be the upcoming super power ?
by Sonderaj (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 08:02 PM | Hide replies
If you google it, you probably will find it mainly from Indian newspapers.
by Dev (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 08:56 AM | Hide replies
India needs large scale makeover of its cities and towns. China has already done this
Makeover= improvement of existing facilities. improvement in looks and usage.
(not all towns need it ..some are ok even now)
by Dev (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 08:42 AM | Hide replies
chinese dont need any media support. they know what they want and how to do it.
Indians dont know what they want..dream about this and cant do simplest tasks like keeping country CLEAN !
By just KEEPING COUNTRY CLEAN..Indian image and probably income can be DOUBLED!
(in other things actually country is not doing that bad and seems on track)
by om shanti (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 05:59 AM | Hide replies
Chinese know what they should do for the best of their country.
Our media should remind our leaders their responsibilities.People did not elected them time and again to loot the nation.When in the name of dummy democracy,the fedalistic and monarch1st rule will come to an end and will we be really working hard and honestly to convert our nation into a super power ?
by sam raj (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 06:16 AM
Media is feeding only negativity instead of directing the Govt towards the growth path, thought of Indian media has to be changed for the Welfare of Indian people
by krishna krishna (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 02:59 AM | Hide replies
china is a synonym for the word ‘DUPLICATE’..and no wonder they would b called duplicate super power..as they are projecting themselves. west will never accept chineese dominance even if they turn out to b ORIGINAL democoracy.no county will ever trust china..not even their society
by shyam ale (View MyPage) on Nov 06, 2011 06:24 PM
what make you believe that China should follow West…..western countries are devil. Beware they may destroy India in future also.
by David Dak (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 04:46 AM
That is your wishful dreaming. Chinese trust their govt. more than any other people trust their own country including indian.
by secret (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 02:46 AM | Hide replies
will inundate the planet with worthless junk that doesn’t work. All Chinese will be slave driven to produce this junk. Rest of this world marvel at the cheapness of this junk.
Re: Superpower China
by secret (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 02:48 AM
China will produce dictionary too. Word “Quality” will be missing.
Re: Re: Superpower China
by sam raj (View MyPage) on Oct 29, 2011 06:28 AM
China has the highest number of skyscraper in the world, every electronics item you buy from any leading Brands are made in China. The days of quality issues from Chinese products have gone, we are still living with the old mindset