China – THE Superpower of the Future?

It Is Expected That By 2050 China
Will Have The Highest GDP On The Planet

First Published Date : July 28, 2009

The four separate and disparate countries which make up the grouping known as BRIC have taken up a lot of newsprint in recent times, often with an alarmist tone. The old order certainly seems to be being shaken up a little, if not completely overturned, and it is the identity of the countries doing it which is surprising most people. Although the countries themselves are not tied by anything concrete beyond some early multilateral trade talks Brazil, Russia, India and China do all have something in common. They are all in the top ten nations of the world in terms of

population. Between them these four countries have a combined population of more than two and a half billion. In terms of percentage they are home to more than forty percent of the people in the world.

Although sizeable in terms of geographical mass and population, however, these countries with the possible exception of Russia had not, until recently, been seriously grouped in the “superpower” category by the generality of analysts. Decentralised populations, poor communications linkups and government policy were among the reasons for these countries being associated more than anything with political stricture and

grinding poverty. And while it would be hopelessly naïve to say that poverty was a thing of the past in any of the above nations, there is no denying that they have each somewhat overturned their reputations and are on target to be the most important economies in the world within a generation.

China, for its part, spent much of the 20th century with a reputation for insularity, government repression of subjects and human rights abuses.

While the country still has work to do to shake off the reputation, it is certainly opening up in comparison with the past. This is expected to continue, and may need to if China is to meet the expectation that by 2050 it will have the highest GDP on the planet, increasing from its most recent annual GDP of US$4.4million to a number higher than seventy million, twice the forecasted GDP for the expected nearest competitor, the US. What this confers on China, its government and its industries is a great deal of bargaining power. International summits without China are increasingly going to be seen as largely irrelevant, because even if a powerful group of countries wish to move the world in one direction its richest, and most populous, nation exercises powerful veto muscles.

There is no doubt that the way China moves in the coming years will have a major influence on the way the world will move. There is some question over how this will change China as a country. Money at the moment is not as evenly distributed and like India, China has a significant proportion of its population living beneath the poverty line. If its greater financial muscle results in more of the Chinese population sharing in a greater level of its wealth, then it is inevitable that China’s cultural reach will increase. Having hosted the Olympic Games in 2008, it is thought

that China will next bid to host the soccer World Cup – and with that comes greater scrutiny. Financial change is coming to China, now how will that change be reflected in the rest of it?