Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Interesting Times in China

As I've written before, don't write America off as the latest challenger, China, threatens to pass us by. We've held off challenges from the Soviet Union, Japan, and the European Union which were supposed to pass us by to dominate the world. China doesn't seem as such a sure bet for global leadership these days.

China is stumbling on the way to global dominance:

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.

Yeah, I've noted that even if  China passes us in total GDP by mid-century, by the end of the century we could well regain our lead.

And even if China does pass us by in economic strength, the geography that provides a higher degree of difficulty for us in projecting power abroad also gives us more of an ability to have surplus military power available for power projection compared to China which is surrounded by potential foes.

And worst case for China is perhaps becoming a more likely event despite the big growth that China has experienced the last couple decades:

[There are] growing signs that the collapse of China as Gordon Chang once predicted, and David Shambaugh is now intimating, may soon be at hand.

Mind you, there have been as many people saying China will stumble as those saying America will. But far more have been in the China will pass America camp.

Still, could there yet be a "Han Spring?"

Of course, what does "collapse" really mean for China? Many people speculate on different courses that China could follow if their economy falters and the implicit deal that China's communist rulers have made with their people--increased prosperity in exchange for a Communist Party monopoly of political power--is broken.

I wonder if we have to speculate about the single most likely course of events after such an event in a country that is really a continent.

Why not "all of the above" when we ponder the future of "China?"

And don't rule out the possibility that the Chinese Communist party might wreck the state of China to remain dominant in whatever is left--the Soviet communists traded away a lot of Russia in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to end their role in World War I, after all. And that objective of party control, after all, was the point of the Cultural Revolution's decade-long madness, death, and destruction:

But the Cultural Revolution was not anarchic for anarchy’s sake. It was manipulated by Mao to rid himself of rivals, real and imagined, and to purge the Communist Party of doubters of his wisdom. After the famine, Mao thought he was being sidelined. To reassert control, he called on students and workers to “bombard the headquarters”, that is, attack everyone in authority—except himself and those he had clearly signalled to be his allies.

Interesting times can come from many directions.

Have a super sparkly day.

UPDATE: Western companies are finding that China has taken advantage of them and are starting to get out (tip to Instapundit), believing they will never be allowed to serve the huge China market so many dreamed of staking out.

As an aside, very smart business leaders made these bad deals with China. Tell me again how a businessman will drive a hard bargain with China.