Is China's rise inevitable?
Doug Asbury, I have a friend who teaches international relations in Korea
The idea of “China’s rise” is a concept that functions primarily in the realm of international relations between nation states. It is mostly of interest in terms of political influence and economic strength, supported to some degree by military strength, but not heavily dependent upon it.
When I look at what occurred in the 20th Century, I see that an industrial revolution that began in certain parts of the world in the 18th Century progressed in the West and in certain other parts of the world that western nations had colonized during the 19th Century; so that when World War I came along and was heavily dependent upon industrial strength to produce the armaments that won it, it became clear to the major nations of the world that industrialization was a more important area in which to focus the nation’s energies than it ever had been before.
All that said, it is important to consider what made the United States the economic and political leader it became in the latter part of the 20th Century. A major factor is the industrialization that was required to mobilize the country to fight in World War II and to be part of victories in both Europe and the Pacific. After that conflict, also, the U.S. was the primary area that had been involved in the war that was not itself devastated to a major extent by that war. Our industries were not only intact; they were larger than they ever had been. So many of our male citizens had been involved in the war, they needed jobs when they returned; and the government paid for their higher education as well, qualifying them for other than the often physically challenging agricultural work. (In addition, agricultural work became more mechanized, so that there was not such a great need for many people to work a typical farm. Migrant labor, also, provided adequate personnel for seasonal work; and that was often supplied by non-US residents.) Beyond this, our helping rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan and the need to continue building things to maintain our military strength against the “rise” of the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent,
Overall, though, a major factor that contributed to all this growth in the power and development of the United States as the “unipolar power” in the world (following the collapse of the Soviet Union around 1990) was the industrialization of agriculture. Whereas at the beginning of the 20th Century, U.S. farm population was just under 40% of the nation’s workforce, by 2000, the farm workforce was just under 3% of the population. This move from rural to urban/suburban life focused the U.S. workforce on the production of goods and services that would return a higher value to the producer than that returned through production of food. Food production has become such a low-margin activity that it has necessitated that U.S. producers mechanize to the highest level possible, and those producers have also been easily challenged and even crowded out of certain markets by producers in other countries whose costs are so low, even higher packaging and shipping costs can be borne by those producers in order for them to make a profit while still undercutting the costs - and prices - of U.S. producers.
I point this out, because what is happening in China in the 21st Century is very similar to what happened in the United States over the span of the 20th Century; that is, more and more people are moving from rural, agricultural life to industrialized - and financialized - city life; so that more of China’s citizens are focused on creating goods and services that have a higher return for their producers than do agricultural goods; and slowly, even China’s agricultural system is upgrading to meet the increased demand that it produce the food required by the billion-plus citizens of their nation.
Long story short: China has been playing “catch-up” over the last half-century or so with countries, both Western and Pacific, that industrialized and financialized years before; and with the largest population of any nation on earth (at this time, anyway, though India is on track to pass it in terms of population in the next couple of decades), it is inevitable that China will become increasingly influential in the world.
The question is not whether China’s rise is inevitable; it is, “As China becomes an ever more powerful nation in the world economically and politically, what can be done by other nations to ensure that its increased power is used for the benefit of other nations of the world in addition to its own benefit and that it doesn’t abuse that power?” The answer to that question is one on which many nations of the world are currently working; and depending upon whom one consults, the prospects either look dire or rosy. Let’s hope the rosy scenarios prevail!
Sam Arora, Life long student of Chinese history, culture, food, arts
My grandmother used to tell me a story the endpoint was: A pigeon cannot escape death by closing his/her eyes when the cat is coming towards him/her. China’s rise is per sure inevitable, rest of the world is just closing its eyes and believe this cat is fake and he/she will pass. No sir/madam: This cat is real and it is, in fact, a huge dragon.
At some stage, the world has to learn that this growth is real and must learn to respect and learn from this mega-success story.
BTW: The Author is not Chinese, and he has not hired the hand to do publicity, he is Indo Canadian citizen of Canada for the close to fifty years. He has worked with the Chinese Canadians at various levels and visited China several times. And when he was a baby in India from his childhood he was very interested in China and the Chinese culture. His primary school teacher sowed the seeds in him about China.
This is a dawn of new era: You want to see future please go to China, there you will get an idea, how the future will look, by standing at the present time, and one glance backward to developing China will show you the past.
Standing in the present: You will see the future and you will see the past.
If you look at Chinese history over the past thousands years, you would appreciate that it would be a good thing for China to be one of the superpower in the world.
China has never invaded other countries through out its thousands years history, except some small borders wars here and there.
When China was strong, whole world, especially the East Asia enjoyed peace and prosperity. When China was weak, the world, especially the East Asia were in chaos and wars.
It is inevitable for China to rise:
1) Chinese people and philosophy
2) People around the world are happy and supporting Chinese rise peacefully, surely the US wants to keep its hegemony in the world to incites some conflicts around China, but all those countries know the US' intention and thus keep neutral and keep watching US' solo action.
China has become what it is today by one generation of "under educated people". The new Chinese generation is well educated and can compete with any nation in the world stage.
Yes, it is inevitable for China to rise to a world power, especially economical superpower as Chinese does not believe "Gun and warship diplomacy", but develop sufficient advanced weapons to defend its economical power worldwide
I think it is inevitable and here is why I think it is, China’s economic developments are obvious by looking at it’s imposing skyscrapers in its eastern megacities and its investments on every continent on earth.
However what makes me think that china will continue on a rising path is because it has a track record in being able to storm the worst of the economic weathers, China’s economic resilience was evident from its rapid recovery of the 2008 economic crisis. Although the government’s nearly $600-billion stimulus package played a large role, huge credit goes to the entrepreneurial spirit and strong resolve of China’s 1.3 billion citizens. Their attitude is an indication of things to come.
In recent year’s new business leaders have emerged, consumer tastes have shifted, and the government instigated new policies to move China in a fresh directions. For example:
It is always hard to predict the future but China is taking the rights steps forward
Arman Siani, lives in The United States of America
China is a nation with a billion people who have one of the world’s highest average IQs, who are extremely hard working, patriotic and ambitious, and don’t shy away from dreaming big.
It has a rich 5000 year old history, with meritocracy, rather than religious dogma and idealism, as its guiding principle. As someone else has correctly said, China is a civilization dressed as a country.
So, considering all this, China’s rise and dominance is indeed inevitable. Infact, it would be surprising if it’s NOT inevitable.
Abhineet Kaul, 10+ years helping companies grow business
I will give you a simple economic reason. China is not only growing alone, but is taking its neighbours with it in the development journey.
The chart below shows how Chinese tourists are changing the world of tourism. The closer you are to Mainland China, the higher is the dependence on Chinese tourists for both the total arrivals and the growth in arrivals. And this leads to high linkages between the culture, economy and politics of the countries. Similar linkages are available for trade and investment.
The economic co-dependence and collaboration ensures that other countries will support rise of China as well. And the last time when a country was supported by the global order, we had a superpower like the US.
Data sourced from respective Tourism Boards/National Statistics Board
George Lee, lives in The United States of America
In proper perspective, in its 30+ centuries of history, China has been a superpower for all but about a handful of centuries, most of them recent. So it’s not like being a superpower is new to them.
It is a deliberate Western mis-translation that “China” means “Middle Kingdom”. The proper translation of “China”, in its intended meaning, is “Center Nation,” or “the Nation at the Center.” You can see why the Europeans mis-translated the name when they first came across it. Nowadays it doesn’t matter, of course.
John Duran, former Self Employed
Something that I hear within this China’s rise rhetoric involve fears that they will throw their weight around. You know, like us in the US! Maybe if we set a better example that wasn’t about just sounding selfish and demanding. And it would help if we didn’t police the planet but rather worked with our allies to further the human rights of all people. China’s rise is inevitable. I’d add, India’s rise is inevitable. Brazil, Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, maybe a truly resurgent Russia one day and so on. Countries rise and fall and then flat-line and then revive. Point is what kind of world do we want? I say it should be one in which we all try pragmatic approaches to help each other prosper. Everything doesn’t have to end in conflict or war.
Population size is not destiny. Look at the Netherlands and Singapore. China has a populations too large for its type of territory, which has oversalted soil and too little water (polluted and depleted aquifers). There is no guarantee that a large population will lead to wealth nor invention. Tiny Norway contributes as much to science as China does.
China’s increased wealth also is in large part due to bringing women into the work force and taking people out of non-productive agricultural labor. Its low labor cost advantage is ending and jobs fleeing to Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Japan too looked unstoppable just a few decades ago. The Soviet union was projected to overtake the US economy in the early 80s. But conformism, demographics and disastrous economic policies proved fatal to both. China seems to have exactly these same problems only magnified many times over. It is relatively easy to produce phenomenal growth when you are just catching up and copying other economies but when it comes to innovating only an open, free and diverse society can deliver growth.
Mark Trimble, works at Federal Railroad Administration
No, because maintaining economic momentum in the *extremely* competitive global marketplace is tough, really tough, and it is dependent upon a stable and dependable workforce. The greater China’s economic success, the greater the pressure is to further extend freedom and opportunity within Chinese society generally. How successful the Chinese government remains in responding to this unrelenting pressure year after year will determine the duration and extent of its rise.
Surprised that I haven’t seen it mentioned that from a certain historical perspective, China’s rise is inevitable.
There is a view of Chinese history being cyclical with periods of union being followed by disunion which is then followed by a period of union again. This was something that was noted back in the 16th century in the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
While I agree that it is limiting to view Chinese history primarily through this lens, it is interesting to observe how this pattern manifested itself.
For instance, the end of the Tang Dynasty meant that Luoyang and Chang’an were no longer the center of power and influence. During the Five Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms and subsequent periods, the economic base became more diverse both geographically and in the types of products being produced.
Arguably the dissolution of Tang Dynasty power created conditions for the country (for lack of a better term) to become stronger.
Peter Gould, former Widgit Inspector
Ask 1990-Japan about inevitible rise to supremacy.
China is dancing on a knife’s edge. Also, I read enough to strongly beleive that most Asians (and alot of Chinese) are also very are of this. 问问1990年代的日本吧，当时的日本就走在通往霸权的势不可挡的崛起之路上。