When you think of a country as being a superpower, what comes to mind? Well what most people think is the United States and is right, however China also comes to mind but at best China can only become an economic superpower nothing more. To many people China's strength, mainly in its economy, is strong and China's economy now ranks as the second largest in the world.
According to a video, Is China the next superpower?, on YouTube, “China's per capita income is still a little more than 10 times lower than that of Japan and the United States,” mainly because China is forced to export because of the low standard of living and lack of arable resources, that is what the Chinese economy is, an export-oriented economic system. This, however, has made China an overwhelmingly dependent on consumers in the West. The United States navy dominates global sea trade routes making it extremely difficult for China to do otherwise. Beijing,
China's capital, is forced to invest its resources to build up a modern navy to that of the standard of the United States. Aside from the economics and naval buildup, China faces enormous domestic issues. The east side of its territory is inhabited by secessionist-minded minority groups minorities, meaning groups of people that withdraw themselves from an organization, union or especially a political entity, creating more dilemmas for China. The control of the East side takes a huge toll on the Chinese economy as Beijing has to balance the prosperity in the East with disparity in the West. According to http://carnegieendowment.org, “Aside from China's internal fragmentation, China also faces a lot of external pressure from its neighbors.”
Unlike the United States, China has to contend with strong regional rivals such as Japan from the East, Russia from the North and India from the South. They all put a lot of weight and stress on the Chinese military and economic resources just to defend the Chinese territories. China will become an economic superpower in the foreseeable future and take its place as one of the world's leading trading powers. But the economic and military resources of Beijing and the rest of China will always be stretched thin. China, as a whole, has to devote enormous amounts of military resources just to defend its territorial integrity from its internal fragilities and external rivals. Also stated by http://carnegieendowment.org,
“Economists in the last couple of years have said that it would still be 10-15 years before China reigned supreme” but given the surrounding nations enclosing China and other demo-graphical factors such as the per capita of it's nation's people still a little less than 10 times that of the United States and Japan, it is unlikely for China to become No. 1 in the world. For example, more than half of the Chinese population still live in villages, most without access to safe drinking water, basic healthcare, or decent education. Urbanization only grows a minimal 1 % a year and it will take another three decades for China to reduce the size of peasantry and with hundreds of millions of low-income rural residents surviving on the margins of modernity, it is unlikely to become a superpower. Additionally, to assume and believe that China is the next superpower, it's also necessary to assume that China's super-charged economic growth will continue.
According to the YouTube video, titled Is China the next superpower? “Relying on export-oriented methods of building up your economy was a great idea a few decades ago and was part of the reason why China adopted it” but depending on any country's past performance to predict its future prospects is a risky proposition. China's economic growth performance since 1979 notwithstanding, its ability to sustain the same level of growth is by no means assured. China's growth actually will slow down drastically in the next two decades. According to the article, China's not a superpower on http://carnegieendowment.org, “Like Japan, China has become an ageing society and with that comes the cost of old methods going out in favor of others.”
The share of the population, ages 60 years and above, will be 17 % by 2020, and this ageing will increase healthcare and pension costs while reducing savings and investments. Although the exact magnitude of the reduction in the savings and the increase in healthcare and pension spending is uncertain, their combined negative effects on economic growth could be substantial. Also when referring to the article, China's not a superpower, on http://carnegieendowment.org, “Another obstacle to China's future growth lies in it's environment, over the past three decades, China has neglected its environment for the sake of economic growth, with disastrous consequences.” As from the article on http://carnegieendowment.org, “air and water pollution kills about 750,000 people a year, the aggregate costs of pollution are around 8 % of the GDP (General Demographic Population).” Climate change will severely affects China's water supplies and exacerbate the drought in the North.
China's business-as-usual approach to growth, which relies on cheap energy and no-cost pollution, will no longer be sustainable for the future of China. Putting economic prospects aside, China's rise to superpower status will also be constrained by a host of political factors. Also from the article on http://carnegieendowment.org “Chinese leaders will be finding themselves in search of a global vision and a political mission.” Countries don't become superpowers because they have universal appeal. The political challenge for China in the future is whether it will be able to find the political ideals and visions to guide the use of its power.
Right now, China is economically prosperous but ideologically bankrupt. Also a lack of appealing ideas and visions for the world is also responsible for the mindset of Chinese leadership, which so far paid only service to calls for China to assume greater international responsibility. Ironically, while the rest of the world has taken China's future as a superpower for granted, Chinese leaders themselves are more aware of the inherent limits of the country's strength. According to the video on YouTube, “Beijing frowns upon direct military presence abroad, avoiding costly international obligations and living with the international economic” and security ordered established and dominated by the United States.
On matters of its territorial integrity and economic well-being Beijing seldom hesitates to flex its muscles. But it draws the line on empire-building overseas via the extension of its military power. So for the foreseeable future, As stated by the video on YouTube, “China will be, at best, only an economic superpower by virtue of its role as one of the world's greatest trading powers.” According to the YouTube video and the article “China's geopolitical and military influence, meanwhile, will remain constrained by internal fragilities and external rivalry.” While China will always have a seat at the table on the global stage, its willingness and capacity to exercise leadership will most likely disappoint those who expect Beijing to behave like a superpower. It's not that China doesn't want to be a superpower, it will take it at any chance, the simple truth is that it is not, and will not be one until it changes how it conducts it's country much like a person would change themselves to better everyone else and extend their appeal to many others abroad.
Mustafa GadelrabQuality of Life China: A Superpower?
Mr. Jackson 6/3/12
Bibliography http://carnegieendowment.org/2009/12/29/china-s-not-superpower/1rgl – China's not a superpower
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG225dz89TY&list=UUwnKziETDbHJtx78nIkfYug&index=3&feature=plcp – Is China the next superpower?