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Christopher Green

Member at large, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

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Do you think China will be the next Superpower? Really?

My study of history leads me to believe that the "China as a Superpower" talk is a bit too exaggerated. I find a few discrepancies which I believe will block China from achieving such a feat. there are as follows:

1. Geography - China has always been isolated due to the fact there landscape ... well it sucks. Siberia in the north, down south you have the Himalayas and jungle regions, no really great trade routes but one and most of the population is in the east and on the coastal regions.

2. A small problem with the economics called NPL (Non Performing Loans)

3. No Navy, which is important strategically if you're going to be a Superpower you must be War ready!

4. Produce household brands that sell on a world market.

5. Produce POP CULTURE (believe it or not) that can sell on a world market.

6. Allow more freedoms for it's people

I love China's growth and hope to visit one day but superpower... NOT!

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    Apr 28 2011: HI ....Chris
    I would suggest you go, and live , for few weeks , in China (be careful , as NY is NOT AMerica , Beijin , or Shanghay is NOT China.. it is JUST a town of China.
    COnsider some simple reality..
    CHina is the ONLY place in the globe , where a Province (not a nation , or a state ..!!) has 300MIllions people.(US)
    CHina was used to manage large and spread communities roughly 1000 years ago.
    China understand power , USa does NOT!! Difficult to digest , but basic thruth!!!
    China is welll positioned to become a world power , both economically and militarly (militar power do not need democracy , unfortunately)
    If money give power ..... China own USA debts , and they can recall their money whenever they want .!!
    COnsequences?? Immediate USA bankruptcy , probably war that US can not win.
    Did you notice hat last week , the BRIC leaders met , without any OECD country leader being present????WHY?
    Until US will put an END to GUantanamo , death penalty , gunshot at schools ,Lobbying/corruption.........
    we will be in a bad position to push , or teach to others.
    The chinese culture is so much reacher,deeper , and older than the USA , that they can teach.it.
    The chinese population was NEVER communist , they were , and still are , collectivist , totally different concept.
    YES They are nationalists... less than US citizens.
    They are NOT as we believe they are ..... we are not as they believe we are
    Very few chinese do have passports , as very few americans does. Little communication between populations.
    CHina is a better melting pot , compared to USA , and so was for the last 1000 years......
    GO and live there ....... understand their culture and you will probably adjust your pre-judgement ,
    while helping them to adjust theirs.
    At least try it !!!!!!
    Salud , amor , dinero , e tiempo para gustarlo.
  • Apr 28 2011: I think the better question is... "When will the world accept that China is already a superpower?"

    And when should we stop calling it as an "Emerging Market or a Developing Country". I think China already has emerged. Their economy is now larger than Japan, the UK, France and the rest of the "Developed" world.

    China is a superpower in its own right at this point. Yes by western notion of a "superpower" ie "military might", it still haven't reached the level of the US and the USSR. (but well they're getting there.. and fast) But one thing to note about China, is that they don't need to conquer other countries to exude power and influence.

    They are influencing so many countries all over the world with their economic might, and we literally sometimes have no choice but to bow down. I am from the Philippines which has long been influenced by the US for so many years. And even from here, we can feel the extent of China's reach. Most of the infrastructure projects are financed by the Chinese. Our army's weapons are even donated by the PRC. Activities in the Diplomatic area has also been increasingly focused on China.

    :)
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    Apr 22 2011: China is already a super power.

    firstly, they do have a sizable navy. along with the world largest army and a fantastic air force. They have masses of nuclear capabilities. also, they have their own space program like Russia and the US. take a look at this interesting article i remember from the daily telegraph, UK. -

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8251307/China-a-force-fit-for-a-superpower.html

    During the recent global economic crisis that massively effected America and Europe, where did the US borrow money from? China. China's biggest import is American goods. Americas biggest import is Chinese goods, they both need each other.

    in terms of global influence, the Chinese economy is and has been for the last decade, the worlds fastest growing economy. there is not a country of the world where china does not have a level of influence. the speed in which they have advanced in the last decade is immense and I feel now that yes, they are a super-power and I feel Russia, and especially the US are aware and worried about this. another contrasting regime with a different outlook on the world how sits at the table.
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    Apr 27 2011: Dear Christopher.
    As a Swede who has been living in South-Est Asia for 9 years now I would say YES, China will be the next superpower. No doubt about that. As of your list: 1) Yes, the geography could be better, especially westwards, but in the modern world with air-traffic it doesn't matter very much, really. 2) China's economy is already far stronger than the US for example. 3) I strongly believe that territorial, traditional wars are a thing of the past. National states are losing in significance due to globalisation etc. I cannot see the absolute need for neither wars or a navy in this new world. 4) and 5) As long as "world market" is defined as the traditional western market, you might be right. But selling in China, general Asia and India alone is enough for world domination. And.. Chinese pop culture exists here, you are just in the wrong place to see that :) 6) China is opening up step by step. On many levels there is actually more freedom in China today than in the US or many European countries. It is very clear that the Chinese leaders are aware of this and wants to continue in this ddirection. However, much of China is still old-time rural and change must take time. If - for example - a Swedish-style voting system should be implemented in those rural areas today, it would most certainly only lead to vote-selling/buying and the one who pays most would get the power - which could very well be the mafia or any dark interests. Thus, democracy walks hand in hand with education and it is the rise of the middle class that will bring chanbges. Be patient - probably it will take another generation before China is ready. It is easy for an American or European to forget that China has been a world superpower for many thousand years already, it has just had a brief down-period.. And, to be honest, I find Chinese foreign policy much more peaceful and friendly than US foreign policy. China does not wage any attack wars in remote areas of the world, as the US does..
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      Apr 27 2011: John, Thanks so much for sharing your first hand and informed view of China,. I plan to travel to China later this year and spend at least a year there. Your report is encouraging to me and confirms my own impressions.
    • Apr 28 2011: Johan, I see China not making much progress in terms of freedom of speech which is fundamental aspect of democracy and basic human rights. China continues filter the Internet and other sources of information. Recent arrests of pro-democracy activists is also sad.

      China foreign policy is hurting the world. Please see how they vote in security council against most resolutions that would help countries (like Syria, Libya and others) to gain more freedom from their brutal regimes. Therefore I consider their foreign policy very selfish, trying to prevent ideas of democracy and freedom of speech to spread?
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        Apr 29 2011: Hello Zdenek!
        I have been studying China and their positions for almost a year because I am planning to go there for at least a year. With 1.3 billion people to deal with they have a far bigger job than either your country or mine. They are also lifting millions out of poverty at an unprecidented rate. They do not see the world or their country the way we see ours. Democracy is not one of their primary goals and most of the 1.3 billion people are in support of their government. No one wants to see any sort of human rights abuse. No one wants to see poverty.
        I am not sure how you can say that their policies are selfish when they are the ones who have financially supported your own standard of living with their loans. We all have to remember that we have only the souces of news that our own systems allow us to view. They are trying to stablize their own unprecidented growth and they are not obligated to run their economy to please North America.
        • Apr 30 2011: Hello Debra,
          "We all have to remember that we have only the souces of news that our own systems allow us to view. "
          I can assure you I have much more experience than that. I lived under a communist regime for almost 25 years and most of my friends are either Asians or Chinese (my wife is Filipino).

          "They are also lifting millions out of poverty at an unprecidented rate."
          Communists took over the country in about 1949. Due to their ideology, the country's economy never had a chance to lift millions of people out of poverty as it happened elsewhere in the world where democracy and free markets exists. As it happened in every communist controlled country in the world, Chinese communist are to blame for poverty of its people. Only by allowing free market in recent decades, China is catching up with the world after decades of strict market control.

          "They do not see the world or their country the way we see ours. Democracy is not one of their primary goals and most of the 1.3 billion people are in support of their government."
          Yes, communists do not want democracy. However I doubt that most Chinese would support communist rule if they were given access to knowledge about alternatives and have actually a choice. Please read about Chinese National Party and their Three Principles of the People. It shows that democratic ideas and followers existed before the communist party took over. They need free elections

          "I am not sure how you can say that their policies are selfish when they are the ones who have financially supported your own standard of living with their loans"
          It is unfortunate that United States and its people over spend and over borrow. However, it is China's choice to buy US dollars and they benefit from exports to the US. They also control their currency which distorts the picture. I think both US and China need to work on this.

          I am sure you will have good experience in China and I wish you have great times! I hope to visit China some day as well. cheers =)
        • Apr 30 2011: I just want to add that people anywhere in the world should have the right to vote for their government and have right to discuss and express their disagreements with the government.

          I also wish that China become a full democratic country, it grows to be a true superpower in a good way so that we have more balanced world.
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        May 1 2011: HI Zdenek!
        I have been looking for this thread all day! Thanks so much for sharing your perspective with me. I have no experience to compared to the life you have lived. That is what the next segment of my life will be about- seeing for myself. Still given my own place on the planet here is my response.

        1.3 billion people is one heck of a lot of people to shepard. I had 5 kids and that felt like a lot of responsibility. At 320 million and 30 million respectively- the US and my country Canada- cannot even begin to pretend to know how great a burden that is. While I agree that many of the problems of this world were caused by historical regimes and governments we only have control or influence in this time frame.
        Why am I not hearing the same depth of conviction for the starvation Churchilll caused in India by taking the harvests out of the mouthes of Indian people or for some of the turmoil caused by other superpowers. None of them were right of course but to me it all boils down to self interest or misguided guesses at what might work and stubborn refusal to admit they had no business meddling in what others had greater understanding of.

        I am no apologist for China. Rather I am a person who recognizes that I have been immersed in one system for so long that I need to see another system for myself with an open heart. While i believe in democracy- I have heard many university trained intellectuals talk about the short comings of our system. We have to admit that many of our democracies are not submitting the major decisions to the people but rather have systems in place that make decisions by experts or politician (sometimes to their own advantage, sometimes for the benefit of all.) AS I understand it President Hu of China wants a 'harmonious transition to democracy'. Time will demonstrate whether or not that is a reality. But what if democracy+ is actually better? As far as currency is concerned- yes, both sides need to work on that issue with respect and virtue.
        • May 2 2011: Hi Debra,

          Yes I am sure you will learn a great deal from being in China and perhaps share some of you experience with us in the future =)

          My hope is that instead of letting people to depend on a shepard they learn to be leaders and active participants in politics and the society so that no 'shepard will become a dictator. I think education is the key.

          I agree with you and I never claimed democracy is perfect or the final stage of social progress but it seems to be the best we have right now.

          At the end it is really up to the people that live in democracy to exercise their rights, political awareness and ensure that politicians are honest and do a good job. Democracy is only a framework and its members need to learn how to use it. Sometimes I feel that people are busy making money and watching hockey games and do not spend any effort to learn about political system, democracy, human rights and social issues. It is possible for people with no education to democratically elect a dictator.

          Lets hope President Hu will continue with transition to democracy and then they can share their experience and insights.

          It was nice talking to you. cheers =)
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        May 2 2011: Thank you Zdenek! I enjoyed the exchange.
  • Jul 23 2011: 1.China never cease to be a superpower, it's just you didn't know about it.
    2.China will never be a superpower, like that of Macedonia, Britain and America, chinese have no interest in forcfully influencing other culture.
    3.So if you define the term superpower as having mighty military force and screwing around the world, then no, china is not a superpower, and china also wasn't a superpower under this definition even when it was ahead of the world by 1000 years.
  • Apr 24 2011: China already is a "superpower" if there are any left. I mean they own half of America(exaggerated), spend more on military, and there economic growth is substantial. China is the world leader they just don't bully smaller countries to flaunt it. They never did do that, that's actually why they lost world supremacy after the Ming dynasty.
    • Apr 28 2011: China's economic growth is substantial because they are in a phase of catching up with more developed countries. Articles in Economists predict their growth will substantially slow down in a decade after they catch up. It is much harder to grow economy when all the efficient processes and technologies were implemented.
    • Apr 30 2011: I don't particularly want to take sides in this discussion however you seem to be suggesting the PRC spends more money on their military than the US, when in fact the US spent slightly over 6 times as much on their military in 2010
  • Jun 25 2011: China will never be the Next superpower, it ALREADY IS.
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    Apr 24 2011: I hope that this won't happen.China is a power but it cannot be superpower while the US monitors the activities of china.I myself prefer the US rather than China.
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    Apr 23 2011: What is your evidence for 1? The USSR and the MIddle East have shown that geographical interest has little to do with leveraging wealth and political power. Every airport is a trade route, but you make it sound like we're still in the age of overland trade caravans. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your idea. [?]

    What is your evidence for 4, 5, and 6? China has done well in growing their economy as a manufacturing resource for other people's brands, and the USSR showed 5 and 6 have nothing to do with becoming a superpower.
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    Jun 11 2011: Isn't China the biggest superpower already? I mean, when you look at the deficit of the G8 nations(some E.U debts were actually bought by the Chinese), it's pretty hard to take this "Richest Nations" mascarade seriously.
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    Jun 11 2011: The talk is non sence. just go back home do what you need to do, that is the real life.
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    May 3 2011: The U.S. economy will collapse within the year due to the loss of faith in the "almighty" dollar. Who does that leave to fill the gap?
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        May 3 2011: Nichola- I think you have so much information and insight to offer to the discussion. We would love to have your input and insights from your time in Bejing. Why do you believe what you do and what have you experienced?
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        May 3 2011: HI Nichola, I was corresponding for awhile with the gentleman who ran the website called The Middle Kingdom. He was teaching at a University in China and was a former forensic psychiatrist (I believe) from Miami Dade. He was pretty disillusioned about his experience and was moving with his Philipino wife to Dubai. I learned a lot from him and do not have my rose coloured glasses on too tightly.If you would be open to giving more information, advice, feedback etc, I can be reached through the TED profile section and I will happily supply an email address directly. I would be grateful for any insights that could save me a bit of culture shock.

        With gratitude for your encouraging words,
        Deb
        PS- What are you still doing up?
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        May 3 2011: Well Nichola- one more- if its educational!
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    May 2 2011: Why we need another military based superpower? Do you think China's becoming economic superpower is also an impossibility ? If yes , why?
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    May 2 2011: With China finally stepping out into the world and consuming like they are they will become a super power. If not militarily then economically. When it comes down to it there are a lot of mercenaries. Also countries that would become such with the proper motivation. In case you haven't heard they are building aircraft carries.
  • Apr 28 2011: I hope that one day we have more than one supper power in the world so that they can keep each other in check. China could be one.

    However until China becomes full democracy, allowing its people to have basic human rights and freedoms then it will become concern to many if China becomes superpower esp. in military terms. China's (and Russian) approach to UN security council resolutions that relate to pro-democracy movements (like those in Middle East) show their own self interest in preserving status quo and power structures.
  • Apr 28 2011: As a Chinese-American and working in Asia in the past 9 years, I feel Martin's analysis are right to the points except I think China will be Super but not Powerful, not yet.

    From Chinese's history, only the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century invaded other countries. The big boat you saw in Martin's presentation did not colonized any countries. Chinese by heritage is not aggressive in nature. Currently due to the immense population and rapid economical growth driven by the central government in pursued of GDP growth in the past 10 years, China definitely is a economical power can not be ignored, and rightfully, it should have its place in the world to express itself.

    China is super, but size and economy only can not represent power. Power comes from technology innovation and social structure, some people may refer it as the cost of social structure. I carry a deep heritage of Chinese culture, and I am sad to say that Chinese are the most self-centered group right now, basically, they show no respect to anyone else, never mind that they would care about how their behaviors would impact on the cost of a society as a whole. On the other end, the nationalism is high, they can not take any criticism at all.

    In the same time, the central government does realize the shortfalls of the current society, the government is slowing but steadily bring back the Confucianism to build up the fundamental of a society. One day when most of the Chinese truly understand the meaning of "yield", then I will believe China is a Super Power nation.
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    Apr 23 2011: Hi Christopher!I wonder if you might consider that your perspective of this is shaped by ethnocentricity? You are judging China by your own American life and definitions. China does not aspire to be like the USA. While they wish to have prosperity and the good things of life- they want to do it in a manner that is consistent with being Chinese and with Chinese values. It is not a Chinese value to sell their own culture to the world. They would term that cultural hegemony. Perhaps you should consider those loans when you tally who owns who.

    PS- I really love your picture and its greeting!
    • Apr 28 2011: Hi Debra, while China might not aspire to be like the USA, I think many young (and older) Chinese people do want to have the same degree of freedom, of choice and of ability to excel. They don't want to be just one of billions clogs in the communist machine.

      While USA might be selling their culture, they are not imposing it on others. I think some of their culture is attractive to many people around the world because the ideas in the culture express what most people value the most which is freedom of expression and lifestyle. From my own experience living in one of the Eastern communists countries, people generally admired US culture and disliked communist imposed way of living.

      I think many people in North America welcome other cultures and Chinese movies and other cultural elements are being present in our cities. Let people pick and choose what they like rather than impose values that suppose to belong to a particular society. =)
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    Apr 23 2011: i dont think there really is a super power anymore, a group of great ones, but no super ones. i dont think there is a place for it anymore, and after watching the u.s in the last 50 years i wouldnt blame them.
  • Apr 23 2011: Haha. I think Christopher is trolling.

    "1. Geography - China has always been isolated due to the fact there landscape ... well it sucks. Siberia in the north, down south you have the Himalayas and jungle regions, no really great trade routes but one and most of the population is in the east and on the coastal regions."
    Isolation?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mongol_Empire_map.gif