Friday, January 25, 2019

The Great Fall of China

Is today the high tide of Chinese economic power?

This worsening slowdown, which is the new normal for China, may have major effects on Beijing’s foreign and security policy. On the one hand, it will become increasingly unaffordable for China to build the type of military it has been aiming at for decades now; indeed, Chinese defense spending has already dropped from years of double-digit increases. It is still the world’s second-largest military budget, and the People’s Liberation Army is modernizing, but projecting out slowing growth rates into the future means that Beijing will have to make hard trade-offs between domestic spending on an aging population and fielding the world’s most powerful armed forces. Thus, in a few decades, we may look back at today as the high-tide of China’s global power.

Well, the current time is certainly the age of China's peak toil, but I think 2050 might be the Chinese power high tide. But yeah, the China century might be fading before it can get started.

The author is right that peak China doesn't mean the danger has passed. I've worried that China might decide that striking before their situation worsens is their best course to lock in any transient advantages they can get now.

That's more of a worry than thinking America might strike first to avoid China taking the lead. I just don't think the Thucydides Trap is applicable to the US-China competition.

And remember, saying we are entering an "Asia century" is not the same as saying we are entering a "China century," thus denying the problems that could derail China's rise. America is in the Pacific, too, and is part of an Asia century. So Asia can rise without China leading it.

Honestly, Russia has more to worry about than America if China wants a signal victory.