Is anyone worried about China's growing economic power?

I lived in Shanghai for about five years studying economics and I often read the news both from a Western perspective and from a the perspective of the Chinese government. It seemed to me that the US and European countries are more concerned about Russia than China. I personally believe China is a far greater threat to the current world systems than Russia ever was. Russia is a problem for Eastern European countries but China can potentially be a problem for the entire world. The government is already strong arming poorer neighboring Asian countries, which isn't a surprise, but they've already made aggressive moves against Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Norway. These countries suffered economically as a result of Chinese bans on certain imports and also "discouraging" Chinese citizens from travelling to countries that are "anti-China". It would be nice to have some insight on China and their maneuverings from people in finance.

Anyone with half a brain will realize that China will not be a country in the next 100 years. The demographic dividends are decreasing dramatically 

Their demographics are absolutely fucked. Cramming 100 years of economic growth into a few decades has a cost, and coupled with that stupid 1 child policy they're going to have a massive population collapse of working age adults over the next 20-30 years. Can't help but wonder if that becomes a pressure to start a war.

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Potentially, but currently, more engineers graduate college in China than total graduates in the USA per year. That will pay dividends in the race for global technological superiority. The social contract works differently in China, so long as the CCP continues to improve living standards, the people will remain happy with them. They tend to have more qualms with local governments than the central CCP, despite their sometimes heavy handed approach to maintaining control. From an American perspective it seems ludicrous, but it somehow works for them. Xi's desire to centralize power only grows his key man risk in the event of his incapacity. He also seems to want to have more control of industry in China which only makes FDI harder and trend downwards. Whole industries in China get banned/nationalized overnight like the tutoring industry.

On the other hand, division in America and a growing desire among younger populations (who will eventually grow up and instill beliefs in their children and so on) to increase social expenditure/trend towards socialism and military isolationism remain as risks to US dominance. Then again, the US somehow subdued those radical baby boomers in the 60s, I'm sure they'll do it again. JFK and the like would probably be slightly closer to social democrats than neoliberals in todays age, at least from economic perspective.

Not sure what’s to worry about. Their people are constantly getting sick with covid because their home made vaccine’s efficacy rate is shit. China refuses to allow the sale of Pfizer or Moderna unless they share their IP, which of course the drug manufacturers won’t do. Sounds like the country may implode on their own.

I was in China during the entire Covid epidemic. (Just left two months ago) The data on the ground and the data being published abroad never really matched up. I've never met any Chinese in Shanghai who had any friends or relatives that got infected. The worst that happened was people were starving in their houses because of lockdown.

I am in hk. I visited Shanghai for a couple months summer 2021.

1. China used lockdowns to delay the epidemic. The full brunt of rampant covid is hitting right now. Virtually everyone I know from China now has or recently had covid. Every. Single. One.

2. China may have managed the year 1 crisis of covid well through lockdowns but subsequently really botched it. They hobbled the economy and made peoples’ lives miserable. Worst of both worlds

3. OP’s question wasn’t about covid tho. It was about china overall.

Why would you worry about a country's economic power? 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Political power follows on the heels of economic power. The Chinese government can force another country to adopt a pro-China policy on a range of issues although that policy may not be beneficial for the country.

Because some people can't stand the idea that American will not be the distant #1 dominant power in all respects so they resort to fear-mongering and war-mongering

Frankly, Idgaf as long as China and the US don't go to war. Plenty of prosperity to go around, the Western sphere (US + Europe) can coexist along the Eastern one. We have a wide ocean separating us from China and automation can serve as a nice way for us to localize more of our manufacturing 

My man!  People like you are well needed.

A lot of the western discourse seems to be around idealistic principles that China doesn't share.  They don't have a democracy, well so what?  They seem to be doing well for themselves at the moment, and their authoritarian government gives them many advantages at scale that the west will never have.  They are graduating more engineers and scientists per year than the west per decade.  The semiconductor ban that the Biden admin brought around will almost guarantee that they will create their own semiconductor supply chain, from start to finish, within the next 10 years.  The list goes on and on.

Trying to contain a country like this is neoliberal hogwash and garbage.  Fucktards couldn't do it to Iraq, yet want to do it to China now? Go kill yourselves lads, and let the intelligent westerners in the room profit off China's rise with them as equals (or equal as can be). 

The supply chain and semiconductor crisis has shown us that our dependencies have to be more complex than just one partner nation. I believe that more companies will diversify their sourcing, production and logistics strategy in order to cope better. This includes their vendor management business model.

Relying strongly on very few vendors may also wreck havoc for a variety of reasons (i.e. semiconductor shortage, production problems, and recalls like the Takata airbag issue back then)

China has taken a lot of L's lately and I think they will take a lot more if they continue down this path.

1. The whole concentration camps thing.  Who's gonna support a country that is torturing, sterilizing people on a massive scale?

2. Zero-Covid.  Xi couldn't admit that a strategy that worked well in the very very early stages of the pandemic was not a long term strategy and was terribly inflexible.

3. Siding with Russia in Putin's failed war

Think about it.  China is arguably the country that has benefitted the most from globalism and open trade in the past 40 years, but now they're acting all ultranationalist and aggressive.  You can't be the world's factory while also trying to start a second cold war.  Those two goals are mutually exclusive.

The American population is the greatest supporter of China. Criticising a country on the news is one thing, but spending billions on consumer goods produced by that country doesn't exactly show true concern about the issue at hand. The Chinese economy was the only economy to grow during the Covid pandemic, I think it was 2021. Online shopping really kept the economy booming.

Agree on other points but not on Russia. China is barely involved, they still get to claim "neutrality," while at the same time they've reaped a lot of benefits. Russia is basically tied to China now, and highly dependent on them. China basically now has a guarantee of loyalty from a nuclear state. Plus they now get discounted oil and gas, metals, wheat, for the foreseeable future.

So on one hand you have US, Europe, Japan, Korea, etc. and on the other side you have... Russia which has an economy orders of magnitude smaller.  China is moving away from global trade and cooperation to back a failing regime's disastrous invasion.  That's worth a hell of a lot more than cheap gas.  Russia is already isolated from the West, while China is completely dependent on global supply chains.

These are indications of their willingness to hurt an entire country's economy if thw government of that country doesn't "behave". South Korea lost $15 billion on revenue from tourism in 2016 because China "discouraged" travel after South Korea decided to allow the U.S. military to operate in the country. ( I think they were building a base or doing drills). Australian wine industry is shit now because of a ban. Alot of people lost jobs when that industry was hit hard. Individuals suffer when bans are put in place. If China is willing to act up with developed countries they aren't going to have any mercy for poorer countries. And poorer countries have a lot of raw materials used in production of all kinds of products needed all over the world. Therefore, the potential for disruption for every aspect of the current global system/hierarchy.

No, they have a huge demographic problem and outside of major cities the country is still mostly poor. They are completely reliant on exports and their economy will literally implode if they try something with Taiwan (or anyone else in Asia) and get hit by sanctions. 

It seems like your biggest gripe here is that China is banning imports and discouraging travel against certain countries. I'm not sure why this is surprising to you - Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Norway aren't exactly friendly countries geopolitically, and from the Chinese perspective these are countries that are aligned with their main geopolitical rival which is actively trying to keep them down. You don't see the US encouraging travel to Belarus because it would be idiotic to support what's essentially a puppet state of one of their biggest geopolitical rival, and it's the same idea conversely.

You won't really see diverse opinions asking this question on WSO whose userbase is predominantly American / European but a significant portion of the world doesn't see the rise of China so much as a threat but rather an opportunity. To the US, China is understandably the biggest challenger to its current status in the world order, but to many other countries China takes on the role of a significant source of trade and growth and a necessary counterweight to the US. It would be delusional to think that either the US or China has the best interests of other countries at heart, and a bipolar world would be far better than a unipolar one.

You're absolutely right about the lack of diversity of thinking in the replies. My "gripe" is based on the economic damage China inflicts on these countries and the subsequent acquiescence of these countries to whatever demands China has placed in front of them. Poorer countries are bending the knee without thought and richer countries seem to be less inclined to do so, but still have to find ways to maneuver around China's aggressive behaviour. AUKUS alliance case in point.

I suppose I'm looking at it from a political perspective when it comes to potential future implications of China's rise to power. Living in China made me realize what real authoritarian power looks like. China can shut down an entire business/industry overnight. A friend of mine was working for a very wealthy family and the family was scared to death of all government officials because the government can do whatever it wants to whomever it wants to do it to. There isn't a single lawyer that can save anyone from the government. Jack Ma was not the only businessman to disappear after criticizing the government. Certain things aren't publicized outside of China. The same behavior the government exhibits within China is the same it is starting to exhibit outside of China. But I guess no one shares my concerns..So maybe I'm just over thinking things a little.

Your first point is true - China is absolutely going to start throwing its weight around especially against smaller countries who can't resist them as much. However, I feel this is still going to be a positive change overall - previously it was only the US that would do this (just take a look at Central / South America for a historical track record). With two superpowers, third parties can at least count on some amount of check and balance and play both sides to the best extent possible. The pacific island countries would probably be the best case in point here - they've been getting hundreds of millions in aid combined from both China and the US over the past couple of years, when previously no country really cared whether they still continued to exist or not.

On your second point, I feel that Chinese citizens have a very different social contract with their government compared to Western countries - there is a much greater degree of tolerance to what the government does as long as you see living standards continue to improve. A big part of this is historical, as China was literally a backwater state just a couple of decades ago but they've seen a phenomenal increase in quality of life within a very short period of time. Democracy was also never ever really established within the country as well (the US-supported KMT led by Chiang Kai Shek was much closer to a military-led dictatorship than anything else) so it's not really a familiar system of governance for the domestic population. As a result, a good portion of the population simply cares a lot less whether the country is authoritarian or democratic - it doesn't make a difference if your life has and is continuing to improve.

And I think this is the biggest thing that citizens from Western countries find hardest to understand, even if you've lived in the country for a couple of years. Your entire world view is fundamentally different - to you democracy has to be the only correct system of governance since that's all you've ever known, and from young you're taught that the US / UK etc. has to defend democracy from evil autocratic regimes. And this is why whenever you see any non-democractic aspects from foreign governments, you're instantly alarmed and think that something must be wrong. It's not just China that's on the receiving end of this - even places like Singapore sometimes attract flak for the same reason.

I'm not trying to make a value judgement here about what's right or wrong btw, or trying to claim that either democracies are always bad or autocracies are always good as both have their pros and cons - simply trying to point out that this is probably one of the biggest reasons why there seems to be a gap in perspective between different countries.

It would be delusional to think that either the US or China has the best interests of other countries at heart, and a bipolar world would be far better than a unipolar one.

I don't think that's delusional at all.  China has benefitted greatly from the unipolar world, with the massive increase in globalized trade and manufacturing.  During the bipolar days of the USSR, they murdered 40 million of their own people.  The same goes for many other countries who were caught in the proxy wars in the 20th century.  If China decides to move the world toward a "bipolar" new cold war it will be a massive setback for all parties, just look at the recent supply chain issues.  And when I say "bipolar" I mean a relationship based on competition, not cooperation, which seems like Xi is moving us toward.

That's what is so ironic about Xi's actions.  The greatest beneficiary of the current world order, China, is the one who is trying to destroy it.

During the bipolar days of the USSR, they murdered 40 million of their own people. 

That was pre-USSR, but point taken. Then let's not forget Mao yeeted 50 million of his own too to start the CCP. And don't get me started on Bytedance and the disaster known as TikTok. Let alone all the other stuff like Hong Kong (remember watching that handover in the middle of the night) and then now all the other stuff piling up like the lockdowns, shipping pile ups, the certain camp with an ethnicity incarcerated, the secret police presence here in the US even, the issue with India vs China over Tibet, PROC Taiwan, all the manmade islands popping up in the south China sea for military purposes, and on and on.

Not that the US is spotless either of course.

The poster formerly known as theAudiophile. Just turned up to 11, like the stereo.

You're looking at this wrongly for two reasons:

1. How China behaved during the cold war and after is not due to whether the world was bipolar or unipolar - but it instead reflects a difference in administration. China under Deng and subsequent leaders was very different compared to the China under Mao. Correlation is not causation here.

2. When I say a bipolar world is far better than a unipolar one, I don't mean for China or the US - I mean for the rest of the world.

Either way, I think it's inevitable that China is trying to destroy the current world order. It's a massive country that's growing rapidly economically and militarily, and you can't expect it to continue being the manufacturing backyard that the developed world outsources its pollution and garbage to. The reason why this change is happening now rather than later is because China thinks it's already strong enough now to make this transition. Whether that's true or not will remain to be seen and is probably going to be one for the history books

You're asking a somewhat vague question OP. Makes it difficult to respond b/c question is unclear.

You said China is the most significant threat to global world order, greater than Russia.

It's debatable which nation is the biggest threat.  But yes, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, while unthinkable 10 years ago, is absolutely possible under Xi.

China has shifted under Xi from a team-based decision-making technocracy to a single-decision-maker hardline Maoist / Leninst government.

I suppose I wanted to understand how people in the West view China especially after the last few years of China occasionally stepping onto the world stage and causing pretty significant disruptions in other countries. Since I lived in China for a while it's easy to get caught up in a particular viewpoint so I wanted other input to have a clearer understanding.

Russia is a military threat, but I see China as an overall threat. Every aspect of society can be affected by China's rise (I can't see how exactly as of now but I have a feeling based on aggressive they've been thus far) individuals of course suffer when they more or less shut down entire industries, but also what if China starts deciding which governments get to exist based on their own moral standards, much like America has done in Latin America and the Middles East.

Both Russia and China are credible threats - albeit in different ways.

Russia clearly has been a destabilizing force in both Europe and globally. Russia is willing to wage conventional war, has waged proxy wars with the US, has supported terrorism and dictators globally, and Russian energy is critical for the global economy so it's withdrawal is destabilizing. 

China is intrinsically tied into the global economy and manufacturing, is willing to export chemical precursors that enable the US Fentanyl epidemic, has extended its influence and has been the source of repeated viral epidemics for decades, has set up concentration camps within its borders, is seizing lands of adjacent nations, and is gearing up for a military confrontation with Taiwan and the US.

Why compare the two nations? Both are destabilizing, are deeply allied and connected to each other, and ARE being talked about broadly.

What I think is far more interesting is to try to understand what is happening in China economically. Will it go in a similar direction as Japan?

What about property? The media is all too happy to discuss a real estate bubble in China, but as you know from personal experience, Chinese property in tier 1 cities cannot be compared to properties in tier 3 or 4 cities. Tier 1 cities still are a very tight market, with low vacancy rates.

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