A sobering view of what the future holds.

  • Very interesting and educational article. It is long but well worth the read. It really has no overt or obvious political agenda only a sobering view of what we might see in the not too distant future. It sure got me thinking…

  • @JayHawkFanToo So, back in the 90’s even, Star Trek: The New Generation’s collective The Borg anticipated the success this century of China’s “one belt, one road” policy…

    Excellent article. I wonder what the author thinks of Turkey’s currency collapse after buying into, he says, the Chinese offer to build their economy?

  • @mayjay

    Hard to tell what the future will be like if the current trend continues to develop. The Turkey situation is indeed interesting and it might be due to the Chinese not quite understanding the local culture. China already has a large presence in a few South American countries And growing, same thing with Africa; no question China is aggressively expanding its presence worldwide.

    The one wildcard is what will happen with all the people in China that were moved from the countryside to huge cities. As technology develops it will become more difficult to keep the hoi polloi under control and it might eventually want to have a less controlling system such as the one in Taiwan and if 600 million people decide they had enough, even the army will not be sufficient to stop the movement.

    Interesting times are in the near future…

  • The big thing China has is people. China has nearly 1.4 Billion people. The US has less than 360 million, or roughly one quarter the size of China.

    This means that as the Chinese economy grows and people earn more, the Chinese economy has much more room for growth. As the author put it, China has moved from bicycles to cars only in the last three decades. Now those same people, whose parents may have been the first to own a car, are now young professionals in the city. There’s nothing to stop China from becoming one of the largest, if not the largest, economies in the world, simply because of population. Even if the average income in China is a third of what it is here in the US, because there are so many people in China, that would still make the economy in China larger. Just imagine what happens if that income grows to half, or 60%?

    The real issue is whether all of those people are getting to experience that growth. If they are, China will remain united. If not, if certain regions are left behind, it could divide the country along those old lines.

  • @justanotherfan

    Good point. One thing that totalitarian regimes always did well was to keep ethnic unrest under control like they did in the forme Eastern Block countries and the old Soviet Union in many cases led by one individual but this is a situation that was untenable in the long run. Once the tight control was broken in the early 1990s the domino effect was everywhere and the old block divided into number of smaller but more homogeneous countries and along ethnic lines. Yugoslavia divided into 6 different states and the Soviet Union into 15.

    The Chinese have been more methodical and structured but the numerous ethnic groups were cobbled together by force and, much like Eastern Europe before, it might prove to be an untenable situation as well in the long run. The main difference is that some of the old Eastern block countries depended heavily on the persona (charisma?) of one or a very small group of individuals like Tito in Yugoslavia and once he was gone the structure fell apart. The Chinese do have a figure head at the top but the country is ruled by a large and very capable meritocracy and the country itself has been together for a lot longer than the old Easter block that really formed after WWI. No doubt that moving from an agrarian to an industrial economy will result in unintended consequences but not having had a precedent of this magnitude before makes it difficult to predict the end result. I am sure our intelligence agencies have large groups of scientists studying the various scenarios and running simulation to prepare for the eventual outcome.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Because China has been in its current form (geographically, at least) for centuries, it is far more stable than the former Eastern Bloc ever was.

    This long history also means that, ethnically, China is actually quite homogeneous. The Han-Chinese make up over 90% of the population. While China is linguistically very diverse (nearly 300 languages, probably twice that if you include local dialects), most Chinese speak Mandarin (about 70%). Based on that, more than 60% of the population is both ethnically and linguistically united.

    Simply put, it is unlikely that China would break up even in the event of a revolution because of its longstanding historical borders. Many of the subgroups are so small that it would be difficult to break off into a separate nation, particularly for those that would be entirely surrounded by mainland China.

    I think those factors contribute to actually stabilizing China substantially. Even in the event of a change in governance, China would probably still have a population over 1B, making it a substantial world player either way.