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Is China really going to have such a big impact on the world in the future?

Having lived in China for 6 years, I find it very confusing whenever I attempt to make a prediction about the future of this country.

On the positive side, there is phenomenal economic growth, the pace of change in just one city alone can be remarkable in the space of just one year, offering hope to those who didn't have it previously.

Living in Shanghai, I am literally surrounded by millionaires, and these millionaires are still not satisfied, their desire for money is never ending. Entrepreneurs spring up everywhere, and some go on to make a lot of money.

But at the same time there are many things to be concerned about. Social unrest for one. China is not a free country, and although most people are relatively content just getting on with their lives and staying out of politics, it is pretty obvious that the vast majority of the people in this country strongly distrust their government. I sometimes feel it wouldn't take very much to spark a revolution. But so long as Chinese people can afford to buy their iPhones, Burger King and designer labels this revolution will be staved off. The question is, how long can their consumption habits be sustained? How long can a significant proportion of the population be kept satisfied for?

And perhaps the most depressing indicator of China's potential lack of hope is that it does not seem to have anything the world is interested in, other than cheap labour and money. The US has Hollywood, which allows its culture to influence the way a lot of the world thinks, and creates a longing for Western values. China does not have this. What's more, the majority of Chinese millionaires eventually leave the country and head West. There are a lot of people who want to move to China, who want to do business in China, but sooner or later the ones who move here realise that this is no place to settle down, and pack their bags and head home.

Is China really going to be successful? Or are we just witnessing its 15 minutes of fame?

  • Feb 20 2013: "How long can a significant proportion of the population be kept satisfied for?"

    I think that is very hard to predict. Unlike in other countries, China has a unique "community" culture where people seem to believe more in having a powerful government that figures out and decide for everyone what is the right thing to do? At least the majority of Chinese seem to think that way.

    "The US has Hollywood, which allows its culture to influence the way a lot of the world thinks, and creates a longing for Western values. "

    I don't think there is such a thing as "Western" values. Rather I think that the West, beside others, found a good mix of values that all people, regardless of their origin, are longing for. It is because when we are born and before we are influenced (brainwashed) by certain cultures, traditions etc. we all have common human needs. We all have need to have freedom of speech, freedom of choice and equality. Some countries have systems that allow these values to be uphold, that's all.

    "Is China really going to be successful?"

    Without democracy I don't see how China can be as successful as some the most advanced countries in the world like Sweden, Norway, Netherlands etc. However, with changes to China's economic system China will be in much better place than in the past. For example, growing number of Chinese scientists are becoming part of world scientific community, contributing to the mankind knowledge.

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    Feb 20 2013: It's going to be the largest economy in the world. Of course it will...just as all the largest economies before it.
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    Feb 20 2013: I guess so. Have you noticed Chinese penchant for acquiring a christian name even without the religion? It's because those names are not christian to the aspiring Chinese but Western or Continental in culture.
    Chinese impact on world will still be felt some more decades because of its sheer size. The most unfavorable aspect of China is its demography of age. It is presently a country having population of substantial percentage of people older for productive age. So from 2030 or so the Chinese influence will decline.