Recognizing the Economic Rise of China

The main reason why I frequently posted here about the historically amazing revival of China as a world economic power is that most of the American with whom I grew up during the 1950s-60s, most of whom have never travelled outside of Anglophone North America, nonetheless anywhere else in the world, still visualize China as a Third World nation of Mao suit-wearing Communist drones traveling on bicycles, rickshaws, steam locomotives, and 1950s Soviet-built automobiles. None of that is true, except to some degree the Communist part (approximately 100 million of China’s 1.3 billion people are members of the Chinese Communist Party). For most of the past 4,000 years, China had the world’s #1 economy. It has been only during the past 400 years that China had been in eclipse, no longer one of the world’s top ten, nonetheless top one or two, most powerful nations. Napoleon Bonaparte knew that China’s decline was a temporary exception to history. “Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world,” he supposedly said. With the death of Mao Tse-Tung some 50 years ago and the decision by his replacement Deng Xiaopeng to embrace capitalism in the Chinese economy, (“It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” Deng said), China has come roaring back as a world power.

Most of the American men I grew up with want to deny this fact. They don’t like America having competition, and particularly not Communist-ruled, albeit capitalist, competition. But China is a reality that can’t, and shouldn’t be denied. Some of them try to excuse China’s economic power by noting that by Gross Domestic Product and other economic measurements China now has an economy equal or greater than of the United States simply because it has four times the population of the U.S. who produce only one-quarter or more of the economic output the average American does. This is true. However, the economic output of the average Chinese is constantly growing and at a much faster pace than the average American’s. China now has some 300 million members of its population enjoying a middle class lifestyle, a number equal to (and soon to be larger) than the entire American population. This graphic from Visual Capitalist predicts the relative size of the world’s major national economies by the year 2050.

Until recently, the entire history of the United States had occured while China slept. The U.S. isn’t used to having such an economic competitor: a nationl that has been major power for most of the past 4,000 years. That is the reality.

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