I am in Shanghai, and once again, I stand in awe of the growth and rising power of this country. But it’s more than just the population size, GDP data and mind boggling trade surpluses.
I think about how little many in the US (or indeed Europe) truly appreciate the ferocious future economic force this county represents. I don’t know if it’s because of arrogance, ignorance or ineptitude; but the lack of awareness about China’s future role in the global economy is staggering to most in America (and I venture Europe too).
Telling them China is the 2nd largest economy in the world doesn’t quite bring home the way this is going to go in the next 20 years. While US (& EU) politicians bicker and tie themselves in knots, China is slowly and methodically building alliances, investing with a multi-decade time horizon, and tightening its grip.
Take the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a dramatic, gargantuan scheme that would open up new trade routes to China’s benefit. What does the US offer in return? Withdrawal from TPP, renegotiating NAFTA, and the possibility of bilateral deals!
I am not blind to China’s serious shortcomings. For me, a democratic vote and a free questioning press is worth much more than a new iPhone and a few points on GDP!
But, it’s time for the West to recognize what is happening and react accordingly with greater investment in infrastructure, education, and productivity. It’s not a zero-sum game, but I suggest they start doing it now before it’s too late.