The Future of China
Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping which started in 1978, a series of reforms such as the encouragement of international trade and the entry of foreign capital investment led to an exceptional entry of China into the world market resulting to a boom in the Chinese economy. Deng Xiaoping’s policies aim to obtain large foreign exchange earnings, which would allow China to both modernize and become more independent (Hynes, 1998). Even after Deng Xiaoping’s death in 1997, the economic reforms of China continued and is more likely to be pursued such as can attested by the optimistic expectations of many analysts. In 2005 for example, researchers and scholars of the China Centre for Modernization Research reported that the modernization process of the country will bring China to become an “advanced developed country” and “to be in front of the world’s most industrialized countries” by 2080 (Nei, 2005). China’s emergence as a superpower in the future is not impossible given its ability to utilize its distinct assets and capacities.
China’s Assets and Capacities
China ranks as the world’s most populated country. It has an estimated 1. 3 billion people which comprises 22 percent of the total global population. While there have been efforts from the Chinese government to curb the exploding growth of their population, the enormous number of China’s populace still remains to be a significant factor that can bring China to a seat of power in the international arena. China’s population represents a huge market which makes the country a haven for those who aim to market their goods. The enormous number of Chinese consumers can also support domestic market to fuel the operation of China’s economy. In addition to this, around 400 million of this populace constitutes the main labor force. This number is around 390 million more than the work force in the Western Europe (The Future of China).
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The work force of China is also known for its cheap labor which lures foreign businesses to invest in the country. With cheap labor, investors can either sell their products more affordably or earn more from comparatively smaller investment in wages and salaries than they would have spent in other countries.
As for the quality of education, the Chinese people are becoming more educated. In 1949, for example, the illiteracy rate in China was more than 80% but in 1949, it has decreased to a mere 6.72% (An Overview). The Chinese government has also acknowledged the importance of education in the advancement of science and technology. It is now a policy in Mainland China to have a nine year mandatory education and the country has been sending students abroad so as to be able to receive better training and learning. China’s growing concern for the quality of its education is also a significant factor that can be anticipated to boost the modernization of China. The quality of education that China has will be crucial in developing its areas of science and technology which are considered as significant fundamentals of powerful nations.
Military power is also an important asset and what can be considered as a success factor of China. The Chinese military is currently the world’s largest and while many still underestimate it to be ill- equipped and not as competent as the American forces, it already is in a period of transition. The Chinese government is already reported to be undergoing massive military modernization and a more powerful military is expected to emerge. The military as is though is an asset for China in that it can be perceived as China’s protection from attacks and invasion by other countries. The emergence of a modernized and a more powerful military however can both be a defensive and an offensive tool against those who might attempt to interfere with China’s affairs, objectives and plans.
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The Future of China’s Market and Economy
According to Hynes (1998), China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 9.3 percent between 1979-1993 as compared to the world’s rate of 2.6 percent for the same period; it’s status as a trading nation has risen from number thirty seven to number eleven in ten years; it has also accumulated a large foreign currency reserve making it second in the world after Japan; and its foreign investments is rated second in the world after US. Considering this performance, China is more likely to become economically stronger in the future.
China’s performance is even supported by its capacity. People’s Daily (2000) reported that China’s 1.2591 billion people in 1999 is expected to be about 1.45 billion between 2025 and 2030. The population of China, which is considered as the world’s most populous and comprising about 22% of the world’s total population, is in itself an asset as the number represents a large domestic market. China also has cheap, yet quality labor resources that make it the best choice for foreign investments. More businesses will tend to invest in China in the future as investors can sell their products at a lower cost or profit more because of smaller investments in wage and salaries. This without compromising on the quality of human resources in that education is now undergoing massive transformation in China.
The future economy and market of China as optimistically seen, however, can have both positive and negative implications to many countries including the United States. On the positive side, a much larger Chinese economic market in the future will benefit many countries and businesses engaged in international trade. In that international trade can be spurred by economic growth and China belongs to the leading exporting and importing countries in the world (Poole, 2006), international trade and capital flows will increase which will benefit many international businesses and traders. As for the United States, China’s projected market growth will boost the sale of US goods and services and thus, will provide more opportunities for American businesses with import-export opportunities (Poole, 2006). This in turn will benefit
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American economy as a strong and growing demand for U.S. goods and services will require more and better paying employment opportunities among the Americans (Poole, 2006).
Nevertheless, an economically stronger China with aggressive participation in the world market will also pose a global economic threat. Chinese consumer goods are more affordable than their non-Chinese produce counterparts. These lower priced goods are essential most especially among consumers that belong to the lower income class. The prices of these goods, in fact, make them sellable even in a highly competent international market. As such, China’s goods have an edge over its competitors in the world market relative to the pricing and the added benefit of low trade barrier imposed by multilateral trade agreements. This will threaten the export of many countries in that they can be overcome by imports from China. Related to this will be the consequential effects among low skilled workers worldwide. Low skilled workers in countries that patronize Chinese goods will be greatly affected by the products made by Chinese low skilled workers. According to Pooley (2006), low-skilled workers in the United States are likely to experience downward pressure on their real wages due to the increased competition associated with Chinese exports.
Future Energy Needs and Implications
As China will climb up to becoming an economic power, its need for energy is also expected to increase. China’s vast population is correlative to a great energy need. It therefore has to import 32% of its energy needs such that its oil production is not enough. According to Luft (2004), China’s need for imported oil is expected to double by 2010 and by 2030, Chinese oil imports will equal imports of by the United States today. What implication does China’s projected oil needs and consumption in the future mean?
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China’s energy appetite will result to an increase in oil prices. Increase in the demand and consumption can increase the prices of oil. Considering that China is responsible for 35% of the incremental increase in world oil consumption in 2004 (Bader 2006), the projected demand and consumption of oil will inevitably be a factor to an increase in oil prices in the future. This will have a negative implication especially among oil importing countries because “higher fuel prices can cause unwelcome rises in inflation, restrict economic growth and are unpopular with voters” (Why are oil, 2004). The way China is projected to have an increased demand for oil will therefore substantially increase the price of this commodity. Given the scale of U.S. oil imports, higher oil prices [would] have certainly reduced the beneficial effects for the United States of recent developments in China (Poole, 2006).
China’s projected reliance on imported oil can also decrease America’s clout of power and can even result to conflicts in the future. In its quest for oil, China becomes growingly involved with countries that are in clash with the United States like Iran, Sudan and Syria. This places use purchases from oil to support governments of countries seen as hostile to the West (Massoud, 2006).
In addition to this, the anticipated increase in the energy needs of China in the future will also have environmental effects and implications to countries worldwide. The industrialization of China may be economically beneficial but it can also result to an emission of more climate changing gases that come from industrial and coal burning plants. More sulfur dioxide will also be produced during coal combustion and as such can result to acid rain. The by products of China’s industrialization will result to contaminants that can cross the Pacific Ocean, make people sick and destroy crops in Asia, may be polluting American waters and could dramatically change global climate (China’s latest export, 2006).
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Future Military Capabilities and Implications
As China emerges as an economic superpower, it will have the financial and influential capacity to develop and fund its armed forces. The Chinese government has been investing too much on its military as can be attested by a 12 percent growth rate in military expenditures since 1998. It is reported that the military capabilities of China is “having the greatest potential to compete with the U.S. and to field disruptive technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages” (Bader, 2006). The investment of China in its military has resulted to reported advancement in military technologies. The country has been able to obtain ballistic and cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and strategic nuclear strike capabilities. Thus, the Chinese military can already be perceived as a more intimidating force in the near future. This will have significant implications to the peace and security in the international system in that it will be possible that the Chinese will use its military power for territorial claims. According to Bader (2006), “China’s military planning is overwhelmingly directed at one target—use of force in the Taiwan Strait to prevent formal Taiwan independence”. In addition to this, China has long standing territorial claims in the South China Sea particularly the Parcels and the Spratlys, which both have numerous claimants (Hynes, 1998). With a more powerful military, China may coerce neighboring countries to give up their respective territorial claims. For the United States, the implication of the growing Chinese military might is described by Shuja (2002):
Even if military strength does not make China a global power or one regionally equivalent to the United States, it does mean that China is likely to look more awesome to its neighbors, and its enhanced capabilities will mean that any American military tasks will require greater forces and resources than is presently the case (Shuja, 2002).
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China as a Future Superpower
China becoming a world power in the future may result to significant changes in the international order. As China becomes powerful enough, it is inevitable that it will realize its potentials and powers to change the order so as to suit its objectives and needs. This may include replacing the dominance and influence of the United States especially in the Asia Pacific Region.
According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s methodical and accelerating military modernization presents a growing threat to U.S. security interests in the Pacific” (Bandow, 2006). This can be attributed to the fact that among the most important issues for China today is political stability and Chinese leadership views any American influence as a challenge to China’s political stability (Hynes, 1998). In the light of Chinese principles of nationalism, it can be concluded that the presence of the United States in the Asia- Pacific Region is not favorable with China. As such, while China has been generally cooperative with the United States at present, “there is no assurance that an economically stronger China might not use its influence to adjust the Asian security order contrary to American interests” (Sutter ; Choi, 1996, p. 136). It would therefore seem impossible that the United States will remain as China’s strategic partner in the future as there are probabilities that the two would be competing for influence and power in the Asia- Pacific Region.
Relative to the issue of China and United States competing for influence and power, China will more likely emerge as a winner for several reasons. One, China belongs to the Asian region and in the spirit of common Asian descent, and similarities in interests and culture, China’s Asian neighbors are more likely to support the dominance of China over United States. Thus, the United States will have difficulty effecting its objectives and agenda in the region.
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It has been established that China has the resources, assets and capability to rise as a superpower in the future. Its massive population represents a huge market that can support the economy and even the productions of China. The population also represents a massive number of labor forces. Businesses and investments worldwide are lured by more profit brought about by low investment in the wages and salaries of Chinese low paid workers. Among China’s elements that can be a factor to it becoming a superpower in the future is its acknowledgement of the value of education. Its growing military power is also an important asset in that it can be used to protect China from attack and invasion by other countries and as a means of impressing intimidation to those who might attempt to interfere with its affairs, objectives and plans.
While the prospect of rising to become among the most important, most powerful and most economically efficient countries worldwide is a positive outlook that can be hoped for by the Chinese government and people, it is also notable that prosperity in the future has its possible threats and implications. The future economy of China may indeed boost international trade and even has the ability to increase the earnings of American businesses. However, it also has dangers for other countries especially United States in that US exports may be overcome by the imports from China and can negatively affect the low skilled workers in the United States.
Similarly, the projected energy needs of China in the future will also have its implications which include an increase in oil prices; mitigation of America’s clout of power given China continues its relationship with particular countries in its need for imported oil; and environmental impacts particularly global warming and contamination of water.
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China’s future military capabilities are also intimidating in that it has been reported to have the ability to compete with the United States and increasing investments on it have resulted to technological advancement in warfare. This implies that the Chinese military have the potential to affect peace and security in the international system in that it can use its military might to pursue its territorial claims especially in Taiwan, the Parcels and the Spratlys. China may have the option not to use its military power offensively but military might can still result to intimidation in the Asia Pacific region and even in the United States.
As a superpower with great influence, China may effect significant changes in the international order which may include replacing the dominance and influence of the United States especially in the Asia Pacific Region. This can be attributed to Chinese views that American influence challenges political stability. As such there are probabilities that The United States and China will compete for influence and power in the Asia Pacific Region but in considering that China is an Asian country sharing the same similarities and culture with its neighboring countries, it is more likely that in the future, it will be China’s turn to politically and economically dominate Asia.
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