Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

China - Emerging Hegemony A Speculative Essay

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

China - Emerging Hegemony A Speculative Essay

Article excerpt

The author argues that China, considering its geo-political situation, its extensive control over the water resources of south and southeast Asia, and relatively high intelligence and educability of its population will emerge as the dominant world power by the middle of the 21st Century. An important dimension of its international influence will derive from the fact that as a nation with a population estimated to approach possibly 1.8 billion, its highly educable and hardworking people will be able to out-produce the rest of the world at salaries unacceptable to the West. The author suggests that its power will create a new Asian hegemonic association of states, possibly including even Korea and Japan. Only internal instability can prevent it from attaining world dominance by the late 21st century.

Key Words: Intelligence; Demography; Asian water resources; Wage structure; Ethnic profile; Geo-economic viability; Socio-political stability

Mainland China is becoming a major player on the world economic and political scene. But how much of a threat? That is the proverbial $64 million question. Most of the commentators look at Japan's and South Korea's surge over the past forty years. They posed an economic challenge, yes, but then came the inner antinomies that development reveals, and with them these two nations experienced a swathe of new problems. They became big players; but the U.S. once more showed its ability to prevail on the international economic, political, and military scene. The Soviet and Maoist solution similarly became a part of the graveyard of ideological presumptions. Even Western Europe and the EU seem moribund, paralyzed by their history and adopted ideology.

But the Chinese challenge to the U.S. is real; it is wholly different than those other post-W.W.II surges against U.S. hegemony on the world scene. The nature of the Chinese thrust will spell itself out in new geo-political alliances and power balances In the opinion of many commentators that China will have become the predominant superpower on the planet by 2050, while, by contrast, the U.S. could be stagnating.

Whistling in the Dark

Optimists are indeed uncomfortable as they look to the Far East, but they still find excuses to retain their optimism in the face of possible Chinese world hegemony. China is surging for the moment, some argue, but Japan, Korea, and Mexico also grew at spectacular rates for a while. Indeed, Japan soared for over thirty years. South Korea, after a hiccup several years ago, is still on the move. China has 1.3 billion people, Japan, 128 million. Much of the temporary concern addresses itself to the trade surpluses that China and the other Northeast Asian nations are currently accumulating, while the U.S. has vast trade deficits, ameliorated only by the investment of these trade surplus nations in the U.S. bond and stock markets. These nations are also buying U.S. currency with this surplus: Japan $453 billion; China $257 billion; South Korea $117 billion. Japan may be sick, with vast internal debts held by their nearly insolvent banks, but it still has lots of cash in the governmental coffers, and vast private/personal savings to survive their current doldrums.

The Chinese economy while growing rapidly, at circa 9 percent per year, is still only 3.5 percent of global GDP, as compared with the 20 percent held by the U.S. The U.S. economy shows real signs of being a mature economy, slowing down in growth, and losing much of its manufacturing base to Asia. The Maquiladora/NAFTA explosion of investment in Mexico is also shrinking, as many of these factories leave Mexico for China's highly educable work force and rock bottom wages. Dell and other computer makers have seen their Taiwanese suppliers move to the mainland, where about 35 percent of Taiwanese companies lap tops are now assembled. Intel and Microsoft and all the rest of U.S. high tech manufacturing infrastructure is pouring into China. …

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