posted on 28 February 2017
Written by Frank Li
Like it or not, the de facto race between the U.S. and China for superiority, both economic and political, has been on for the past two decades at least. Now, with Donald Trump in the White House, the shape of the race may change significantly (President Trump in the Real World of Three New Kingdoms).
As a Chinese-American, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I wish China, my native country, well - She suffered severely over the past 200 years. On the other hand, I wish America, my adopted country, well - She must stop her precipitous decline, if she ever hopes to restore her status as the shining city on the hill. Most importantly, there must be no war between the two largest economies in the world, a trade war or otherwise.
With the publication of my new book (American Democracy), in which I spelled out the steps the U.S needs to take in order to truly make America great again, I will, in the coming weeks, publish a series of articles on China, helping my fellow Americans truly understand China: its history, its culture, and most importantly, its political system.
1. What’s so special about China?
The image below highlights what is to me the most important open secret behind China’s success: the past, the present, and the future.
For more on China, read:
2. The race between the U.S. and China
China, like every other country, wants prosperity, which means two things:
In other words, China has been racing against all countries, Usain Bolt style! America happens to be the last competitor standing – To achieve China's coveted prosperity, it must, and will, surpass America!
In contrast, America, as the reigning empire on earth, wants to retain its prominence. A big problem is the neo-cons, who think that America, and America alone, should continue to dominate the world, which means two things:
3. It's the economy, stupid!
According to the IMF, China just overtook the U.S. as the world's largest economy. Although it is in terms of PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) for now, it is just a matter of time before China's GDP exceeds America's. The image below highlights one projection.
The good news for America: because China's population (i.e. just less than 1.4 billion) is almost four times of America's (i.e. approaching 350 million), with the same GDP, China is still much poorer than America.
The bad news for America: China will continue the rapid growth after surpassing America, with no end in sight.
Here is a good article: How to Win a Trade War with China. Below is an excerpt.
The worse news for America: Whatever China says it will accomplish becomes reality, mostly at least!
Bottom line: The current form of Chinese government works remarkably well for China. It has worked for the past three decades, at least. Is there any evidence (vs. wishful thinking) that it will stop working for the next three decades?
4. It's the political system, stupid!
America: stop bashing China and do not under-estimate China's political system: "state capitalism"! Know, and learn from, your competitor, instead!
China has the longest continuous civilization in human history, with the world's leading economy for most of the first 1,800 years of our 2017-year-old calendar. China suffered a huge set-back for about 200 years until 1978, when it started the most remarkable come-back in human history: a peaceful transformation from failing communism to successful state capitalism.
Below is a list of China's prime attributes over the past 2,000 years (thanks to the foundation laid by the First Emperor).
In short, everything is up to the Emperor! A wise Emperor (“明君”) means prosperity, while a bad one means declining. A succession of bad ones means a revolution, resulting in a new (and able) Emperor.
So the biggest challenge for China has been to find a formula that guarantees a succession of wise Emperors.
Guess what? China may already have found the formula! Three informative readings:
Needless to say, the current form of Chinese government is far from ideal. Instead, it's just slightly better than American government. For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government (Version 3).
In contrast, America is almost totally opposite to China. Let's see how America corresponds to China's five prime attributes:
America has been an experiment, with much more to prove, especially in terms of longevity. For more, read: American Democracy.
The 20th century was undoubtedly America's. The 21st century will most likely belong to either China or America. But who will deserve it and who will ultimately claim it? China, unless America dramatically reforms its political system, as I have suggested (American Democracy)!
Stay tuned for a list of articles in the coming weeks, comparing China with the West historically and with America in modern times.
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