Why I Think China Won't Be a Superpower

If there is one thing that is constantly repeated that strikes me as an odd mixture of alarmism/optimism its how people project the future of China. There are a lot of reasons for this to my mind. There are reasons for this across the board.

I'll start with the military factors. To be quite frank, China's military is not all that great. Despite the recent spending boom on the PLA the Chinese military still has immense flaws that could easily be exploited by enemies. First off China does not have an Independent Air Force and Navy. Now this does not sound like a problem until you consider how a military is run. To be short, the high command is mostly Army officers who filled traditional Army roles. This means that everything the PLA does is centered around the Land Forces. This caused a major problem; the PLA has next to no power projection. It has so little power projection capability that an invasion of Taiwan is not certain to be successful. This is due to its small Navy and underpowered Air Force. In addition to these things the PRC's weak Navy makes it near impossible to protect it's imports; most importantly Oil.

Next is Diplomatic Factors. To put is frankly; China really doesn't have allies. The PRC has made it it's mission to piss off nearly every country around it. It has constant disputes with Vietnam and Indonesia, it is icing up real quick with North Korea, it's never had real ties with the Muslim states to the West or with India to the south, and Russia is an opportunist of the worst kind. On top of all that there is Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan which I don't need to explain. The PRC has boxed itself in on all sides. In the case of a war with the United States or nearly any other country that has a fighting chance against the PRC it'd be surrounded by uninterested parties at best and foes at worst.

On to Economics. As of now the PRC's economy is almost totally based on Manufacturing and Agriculture. The latter is mostly for the use of the PRC which leaves state owned Manufacturing entities as it's main means of making money. This is based almost entirely dependent on foreign countries for it's economic well being. This wouldn't be so bad until you consider that over half of it's exports go to places that would turn on it if it made war on one of it's rivals. While it is true that much of American and EU imports come from China, there are other places that would be happy to take it's place.

Thats the quick and dirty run down of why China will not be a super power in the foreseeable future. None of these issues are being resolved soon and I left out many other issues such as ecological issues and fears of civil unrest from the government.

TL;DR China won't be a super power due to numerous issues on military, economic, and diplomatic factors

My question the all of you is simple; will China be a super power? Why or why not?

Well China is Surrounded by neighbors so that is why it will not be one, but its military is strong while the percentage in military spending is still lower compare to countries such as the US, Russia, France, and England so its got some money. China is allies with Russia, and Pakistan, but would have to choose between which is India has a war with Pakistan as Russia is allies with India. Its Navy is stronger than you think with 961 craft 75 of which is surface warships, and 60 plus of which is submarines, and its the third nation to make a 5th generation aircraft. My point is its not week, but not super strong like the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Liberation_Army_Navy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengdu_J-20

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Liberation_Army_Air_Force

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

If it continues to open up and move forward, certainly, but that would likely lead to it splitting up into at least a couple nations in my opinion and would mean that an entirely different China from the one we know today would be a superpower, which really isn't that frightening.

wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

It seems like your going off a classical definition of a super power, just like 300 years ago a super power had land on as many continents as possible. Now it's just who holds the military might with the willingness to use it, in the future it will be who holds the keys to the economy and the new cyber warfare battle field.

So I think China could easily ignore it's military and choose not to act overseas like the US but still project it's presence across the world likes it's been achieving in recent decades.

As far as the economy goes China might be hitting it's "limit" soon, where it has to start diversifying it's economy and giving more freedoms to it's citizens which would assist it in prospering. Or option number two a new leader comes to power making China focus harder on it's economy while still uniting the people without making the concessions that make a democratic society "weak", how he'd do that is beyond me but it's not out of the realm of possibility. I guess I have a little more faith in the Chinese economy to improve.

Gergar12:
Well China is Surrounded by neighbors so that is why it will not be one, but its military is strong while the percentage in military spending is still lower compare to countries such as the US, Russia, France, and England so its got some money. China is allies with Russia, and Pakistan, but would have to choose between which is India has a war with Pakistan as Russia is allies with India. Its Navy is stronger than you think with 961 craft 75 of which is surface warships, and 60 plus of which is submarines, and its the third nation to make a 5th generation aircraft. My point is its not week, but not super strong like the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People's_Liberation_Army_Navy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chengdu_J-20

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Liberation_Army_Air_Force

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

Oh I don't believe the PLA is weak by any means. I just don't believe it is near as great as it is given credit for being. The PLAAF is mostly using aircraft that pale in comparison to their European and American counterparts. It also cannot project power like the US and Russia can. Its only strategic bomber is the Xian H-6 which has a pathetically short range for such an aircraft. As for the PLAN its Navy is mostly made up of Coastal Defense craft. As for the subs they are mostly Diesels which means they are limited in their mission times unlike thier Nuclear counterparts. This leaves them vulnerable when coming back to port as they much go through certain areas.

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

You are missing some important things. First off China's economic growth is slowing down quite a bit. The reason it grew so fast is because it is a developing country. They always grow faster then developed ones. Look at India and Brazil, they experienced similar "growth spurts". China is slowing down because it is basically hitting the economic wall. Their growth is not based on their own success but on selling things to and investing in consumer economies over seas. They are totally dependent on others for economic well being more so then the countries it sells to being reliant on it. If China went to war with any major power it's economy would tank as it would lose a lot of market very fast. While in the future military might will not matter as much, it will still exist. Especially for an aggressive country such as the PRC.

dmase:
It seems like your going off a classical definition of a super power, just like 300 years ago a super power had land on as many continents as possible. Now it's just who holds the military might with the willingness to use it, in the future it will be who holds the keys to the economy and the new cyber warfare battle field.

So I think China could easily ignore it's military and choose not to act overseas like the US but still project it's presence across the world likes it's been achieving in recent decades.

As far as the economy goes China might be hitting it's "limit" soon, where it has to start diversifying it's economy and giving more freedoms to it's citizens which would assist it in prospering. Or option number two a new leader comes to power making China focus harder on it's economy while still uniting the people without making the concessions that make a democratic society "weak", how he'd do that is beyond me but it's not out of the realm of possibility. I guess I have a little more faith in the Chinese economy to improve.

You may be correct on your assessment of what makes a superpower but I do not believe the Chinese are on their way to fulfilling any of them. Also, they have not been ignoring their military by a long shot. Their spending has increased quite a bit in the past few years.

It will definitely be interesting however to see how this new leadership handles things. However I doubt there will be much of a shift. For the last few decades the PRC has basically just been trying to expand on Deng's reforms as far as I can see. But who knows. CCP is sometimes an enigma.

Revnak:
If it continues to open up and move forward, certainly, but that would likely lead to it splitting up into at least a couple nations in my opinion and would mean that an entirely different China from the one we know today would be a superpower, which really isn't that frightening.

Now China's splitting has always been a possibility seeing as it's Western Provinces really do not want to be part of the PRC. The Tibetans because the Communist Party has been trying to crush their way of life and culture for decades, and the Muslims because the PRC is officially not just a Secular State, but an Atheist state. That doesn't exactly sit well with them.

I don't think any of these things will disqualify China from being a superpower, certainly not long term.

I'll agree on the Chinese military, but there is domestic military modernization in China. See the recently unveiled fruits of the J-XX programme as an example of what we might expect the Chinese air force to be using within the next few years.

China has no allies? Well, maybe not on the scale of NATO, but it does have the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, for example. It also has very extensive trade ties to many developing nations which will, themselves, be increasingly influential in the coming decades. I wouldn't say China has pissed off the nations around it any more than the USA has pissed off most of the nations in Latin America and the Carribean. In the 21st century, Alliances don't have to be between neighbouring states in order to be effective.

Also, all economies nowadays are to some dependent dependent on others. In fact, all our economies are highly dependent on China, both for cheap consumer goods and for certain commodities like rare earths for which China is the world's only real, currently viable supply.

I think the real issue for China is not any of these things, and more the fact that the political situation is relatively unstable and the leadership is still so conservative. If it can overcome these things and find a way to reform, superpower status seems guaranteed. Even if not, superpower status seems likely.

But China might not be the only new Superpower in the 21st century. Long term, I think (hope) Brazil will be just as important, for example, and that the EU is able to sort itself out and start playing a larger role. The demise of a single global hegemony is not necessarily a bad thing, we'll have to wait and see how it plays out.

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

because without a strong army as lnog as the current supepower feels theatened you will find yourself stopping beign a superpower at a gunpoint. tha maericans are already quite unhappy with the rise of china, even gonig so far as suggesting an economic blocade.
thing is, as the world globalizes, more superpowers will rise up. EU is a superpower candidate. sadly, brazil is also trying to be one. russia hasnt given up and is rising from the dead with its banking profits.
all superpowers have allies only as long as its useful to them. china has made multiple statements that "we dont care about you all as long as oru citizens are happy". this is consistend with its long tradition of isolationism (if china wasnt isolationist in middle ages we would not have an europe to speak of now they were the superpower back then, but they decided not to move beyond their borders.)

Capcha agrees: one way

I think China's economy is going in for some hard times in the immediate future, some VERY hard times.

The one thing that is driving businesses to the country is it's cheap labor. With a billion people who only have government farms to turn to as an alternate (which pay so low that you might as well try to make a living selling rocks). However, China's population is growing old quick. With the "one child only" policy, their isn't nearly as large of a generation following the current one who are reaching retirement age. The much smaller work force is going to be demanding a LOT more pay, at which point it will be easier to go to Vietnam, India, or any numerous other third world countries not on the brink of facing an aged population crisis.

Well, depends on when you mean. China, as mentioned, hasn't developed much in the way of power projection (so all those people in nations not sharing a land border claiming that China is going to invade and win by force of numbers can fuck right off) yet, but there are signs they might be moving towards that in the future. Not very fast, if China becomes a superpower it won't be soon.

China also has demographic problems due to the one child policy, it's population is getting older without as many people to replace them, and there are more men than women in the next generation.

Shock and Awe:
TL;DR China won't be a super power due to numerous issues on military, economic, and diplomatic factors

Your post does convince me that China is not the world's sole military superpower. But I'm rather sure that China is an economic superpower already.

I agree with this:

Some people doubt the existence of superpowers in the post Cold War era altogether, stating that today's complex global marketplace and the rising interdependency between the world's nations has made the concept of a superpower an idea of the past and that the world is now multipolar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superpower

China won't become the world's sole superpower, but if your definition of superpower allows for multiple superpowers to exist, China certainly seems to be one.

Strazdas:

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

because without a strong army as lnog as the current supepower feels theatened you will find yourself stopping beign a superpower at a gunpoint. tha maericans are already quite unhappy with the rise of china, even gonig so far as suggesting an economic blocade.
thing is, as the world globalizes, more superpowers will rise up. EU is a superpower candidate. sadly, brazil is also trying to be one. russia hasnt given up and is rising from the dead with its banking profits.
all superpowers have allies only as long as its useful to them. china has made multiple statements that "we dont care about you all as long as oru citizens are happy". this is consistend with its long tradition of isolationism (if china wasnt isolationist in middle ages we would not have an europe to speak of now they were the superpower back then, but they decided not to move beyond their borders.)

Capcha agrees: one way

How much military matters for the "great powers" of the World is debatable at least after a certain point. The USA had a housing bubble burst and it fucked over almost everybody on the planet in some way or the other. The same thing would happen if an equally big financial crash was to happen in the EU or China. The economies of today are extremely intertwined and the living standard we enjoy in the western world requires them to be.

I don't think any of the big superpowers could afford to go to war with any of the others. Because the financial consequences means you could just as well bomb yourself and save everyone the trouble.

Shock and Awe:
If there is one thing that is constantly repeated that strikes me as an odd mixture of alarmism/optimism its how people project the future of China. There are a lot of reasons for this to my mind. There are reasons for this across the board.

I'll start with the military factors.

I'd agree that China's military is probably pretty poor quality. However, that can be changed in as little as a decade with a dedicated modernisation campaign. It merely needs to get within a certain margin in quality and then let quantity do the rest.

Next is Diplomatic Factors. To put is frankly; China really doesn't have allies.

Countries with enough money and weapons don't need allies. Or rather, their allies don't need to like them: they can just be bought or intimidated.

On to Economics.

China is not yet an economic superpower. I'm also of the opinion that its growth rate may level out in about 10-20 years, also that it has some deep underlying problems and may suffer a crash in the not-so-distant future. Although it's hard to tell, as it's not a particularly open country.

Nevertheless, even if China reaches just half the GDP per capita of the USA and struggles to narrow the gap thereafter, its vast population will make it the world's pre-eminent economic power by a long, long way.

Agema:

Shock and Awe:
If there is one thing that is constantly repeated that strikes me as an odd mixture of alarmism/optimism its how people project the future of China. There are a lot of reasons for this to my mind. There are reasons for this across the board.

I'll start with the military factors.

I'd agree that China's military is probably pretty poor quality. However, that can be changed in as little as a decade with a dedicated modernisation campaign. It merely needs to get within a certain margin in quality and then let quantity do the rest.

I disagree with this. Modernising a military is no small thing. Various people have a substantial headstart on China.

Secondly, it's not enough to merely build the fancy toys, you have to know how to play with them. Once China develops its aircraft carriers and aircraft to operate from them, it needs to spend time mucking about with them to get the hang of things.

That's a problem with cutbacks, even if you retain your technological edge, if your personnel leaves, it's no so fast to replace the trained personnel in various important fields.

Agema:

Next is Diplomatic Factors. To put is frankly; China really doesn't have allies.

Countries with enough money and weapons don't need allies. Or rather, their allies don't need to like them: they can just be bought or intimidated.

I'd agree with that, that's one of the benefits of being a world power.

Agema:
China is not yet an economic superpower. I'm also of the opinion that its growth rate may level out in about 10-20 years, also that it has some deep underlying problems and may suffer a crash in the not-so-distant future. Although it's hard to tell, as it's not a particularly open country.

Nevertheless, even if China reaches just half the GDP per capita of the USA and struggles to narrow the gap thereafter, its vast population will make it the world's pre-eminent economic power by a long, long way.

If all else remains the same, yes.

thaluikhain:

I disagree with this. Modernising a military is no small thing. Various people have a substantial headstart on China.

Secondly, it's not enough to merely build the fancy toys, you have to know how to play with them. Once China develops its aircraft carriers and aircraft to operate from them, it needs to spend time mucking about with them to get the hang of things.

That's a problem with cutbacks, even if you retain your technological edge, if your personnel leaves, it's no so fast to replace the trained personnel in various important fields.

I'd certainly concede that given experience, expertise and time necessary just to build a ship, China wouldn't get a competitive navy (particularly aircraft carriers) done in ten years, and this would significantly limit global power projection. 20-30 would more credible.

For the rest, I said as little as ten years: this would require a lot of effort, but I suspect is feasible - and this precludes the idea of cutbacks occurring.

I suspect so because in our current mostly peacetime world, it takes about 15 years to bring a jet fighter or tank to fruition. I'm assuming this could be considerably reduced by two factors. Firstly, serious dedication and high resources. Secondly, an ethos of imitation over innovation, the former being faster: resultant inferior equipment need merely be "good enough" to let numbers do the rest.

I don't think China wants to be a superpower in the traditional sense. The 3 main superpowers (off the top of my head), Great Britain, the USA and the USSR all became superpowers by being the school bully and intimidating everyone else so they fall in line. China looks like it would rather be the popular kid that everyone's friends with.

1. Military: As I said China doesn't want to become a military superpower so it doesn't need a military in the same way. Over time you'll see more additions to the military, especially if they need a good employment project to keep things ticking over.

2. Diplomacy: China has a better relationship with several African countries than the West. From what I can remember off a BBC documentary a few months back the way in which China invests in these countries is a lot more beneficial to the country than traditional western investment; the Chinese are paying for the infrastructure of the local area around their factories rather than just plopping a factory down and nothing more. While it may not seem that important (Africa is hardly handy in a fight) it ties in with point 3.

3. Economic: When Africa finds a good mine they have two choices - East or West? If China's built up a better relationship then they're more likely to get the goods, meaning the West will probably end up having to buy it from them. Combined with their own natural resources and they will have plenty to keep them making money from essential minerals.

The reason China sells most of their stuff to us is because traditionally we're the only ones who'll buy it. With the middle class growing larger and larger they may not need us as much as they can keep the economy moving internally.

Overall China will never be America, Chinese culture leads to a very different world-view to that of European culture. However they will be a major force in the world, not through the sword but through the chequebook; China will continue to spread out, putting down economic roots in as many markets as possible and eventually they'll have just as much influence, if not more, than the old school powers.

I think China has all the hallmarks of becoming a superpower. Its enormous population particularly puts it in a category of its own. However, at the moment its power projection capabilities are very limited -- the UK is far more powerful in this respect. It will be a while before it starts to throw its weight around on the international stage, but I am certain that it will be one of many superpowers in a multipolar world (along with the US, EU, India and Brazil probably).

Why bother becoming a superpower when you could just own one instead?

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

But that's the thing, they are still dependent on nations to actually buy their products, meaning that their power in relation to other countries is almost symbiotic. They may be the supply, but we (as in, the Western world) are the demand.

For whatever ills globalization may have caused, its effect on global power-relations has changed the way the entire world works and thus the traditional approaches to influence and power have become irrelevant. The biggest economies have become too interconnected, there is no fight to be had with guns.

What exactly is a superpower, and why does China want to be one? The CCP's claim to legitimacy is that it provides economic growth and societal stability. In terms of projecting power, it's mostly interested in making advantageous business deals in Africa, not spreading ideology at the tip of a bayonet.

If being a superpower means you have a dozen aircraft carriers or you can land marines all over the world to "spread democracy," then no, China will never be a superpower. Maybe in the la-la land of those sad, weird people who fantasize about a Sino-US total war, then China's inferior military and economic co-dependency with the West puts it at a disadvantage, but for all practical purposes, China is already a world power.

There's an argument to be made that China will suffer from slowed economic growth and a smaller workforce due to its aging population, but your argument seems more of the childish "if we went to war with China we'd win!" sort. Grow up, OP.

Hyper-space:

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

But that's the thing, they are still dependent on nations to actually buy their products, meaning that their power in relation to other countries is almost symbiotic. They may be the supply, but we (as in, the Western world) are the demand.

For whatever ills globalization may have caused, its effect on global power-relations has changed the way the entire world works and thus the traditional approaches to influence and power have become irrelevant. The biggest economies have become too interconnected, there is no fight to be had with guns.

Not to rain on your parade or anything but people were pretty much saying the exact same thing around a century ago about the relationship between Germany and Britain.

Axolotl:

Hyper-space:

reonhato:
wait why is a super strong army required to be a superpower? china will be a super power on the back of its economy and its economy will be the reason it does not need a strong army. sure if china goes to war its economy would be screwed.... but so would the rest of the world

china already is the only country that can match americas influence on the international stage, its economy is growing and will surpass americas. china is still developing, there is almost no doubt that its influence on the world will continue to grow.

But that's the thing, they are still dependent on nations to actually buy their products, meaning that their power in relation to other countries is almost symbiotic. They may be the supply, but we (as in, the Western world) are the demand.

For whatever ills globalization may have caused, its effect on global power-relations has changed the way the entire world works and thus the traditional approaches to influence and power have become irrelevant. The biggest economies have become too interconnected, there is no fight to be had with guns.

Not to rain on your parade or anything but people were pretty much saying the exact same thing around a century ago about the relationship between Germany and Britain.

That was also a century ago. So yeah.

Kind of an irrelevant anecdote given the way the world works nowadays. China exports about 400 billion dollars worth of goods to the US and about 300 billion dollars to the EU. That is a whole heap of dosh that no one wants to see go away just because of some antiquated notion of traditional war and its importance.

The biggest setback to China being a superpower is that it completely lacks the ability to project their military power beyond their own borders. And you can argue that it's an outdated notion, but that is still one of the key criteria of being a superpower.

And despite them having a large army, they literally can't use it to go on the offensive; they need most of their army within China to maintain order. So that number of PLA soldiers may look impressive, but unless you foolish enough to invade they'll be leaving most of them at home.

Hyper-space:

Axolotl:

Hyper-space:

But that's the thing, they are still dependent on nations to actually buy their products, meaning that their power in relation to other countries is almost symbiotic. They may be the supply, but we (as in, the Western world) are the demand.

For whatever ills globalization may have caused, its effect on global power-relations has changed the way the entire world works and thus the traditional approaches to influence and power have become irrelevant. The biggest economies have become too interconnected, there is no fight to be had with guns.

Not to rain on your parade or anything but people were pretty much saying the exact same thing around a century ago about the relationship between Germany and Britain.

That was also a century ago. So yeah.

Kind of an irrelevant anecdote given the way the world works nowadays. China exports about 400 billion dollars worth of goods to the US and about 300 billion dollars to the EU. That is a whole heap of dosh that no one wants to see go away just because of some antiquated notion of traditional war and its importance.

Except as I said the exact same things were said in 1912 about the prospects of war, people caimed that they wouldn't happen any more because of globalised the world was, that the massive ammount of trade meant that nobody wanted lose all that money and so on. Saying that the analogy falls down because China exports large ammounts of stuff to the US is silly because prior to the First World War Germany exported just as large ammounts of stuff to Britain (comparatively). Trade considerations didn't stop war in 1914 and they won't stop one now, as long as the populations both "want" a war and the relevant leaders are given a suitable trigger to start one then there will be a war economic consequences be damned. The only significant thing that's really changed between now and then is the invention of nuclear weapons so that if there is a war it'll (probably) be a cold war.

I'm not saying that China and the US will certainly have a war just that the high levels of economic interdependence won't be enough to stop one if other factors start leading to one.

DVS BSTrD:
Why bother becoming a superpower when you could just own one instead?

you mean the 8% of the debt china owns? its very different to the 7% japan owns isnt it

wombat_of_war:

DVS BSTrD:
Why bother becoming a superpower when you could just own one instead?

you mean the 8% of the debt china owns? its very different to the 7% japan owns isnt it

I think it was a jab at "super powers" you get when bitten by a radioactive spider. Or do you have to be radioactive and be bitten by a spider...?

As for China's supoerpower position well...an unconventional one. But if I'm the weak kid I'll not going to make friends with the bully, I'll make friends with the rich kid - he can buy off the bully to my side.

So China can't become a superpower because a war would be horrible for it?

Why is it necessary for a superpower to be good at war? What a dreadful place the world can be.
There's such a thing as economic and political power that doesn't require fighting.

dyre:
What exactly is a superpower, and why does China want to be one? The CCP's claim to legitimacy is that it provides economic growth and societal stability. In terms of projecting power, it's mostly interested in making advantageous business deals in Africa, not spreading ideology at the tip of a bayonet.

If being a superpower means you have a dozen aircraft carriers or you can land marines all over the world to "spread democracy," then no, China will never be a superpower. Maybe in the la-la land of those sad, weird people who fantasize about a Sino-US total war, then China's inferior military and economic co-dependency with the West puts it at a disadvantage, but for all practical purposes, China is already a world power.

There's an argument to be made that China will suffer from slowed economic growth and a smaller workforce due to its aging population, but your argument seems more of the childish "if we went to war with China we'd win!" sort. Grow up, OP.

The problem with any country becoming an Economic Superpower without teeth is that it is impossible to wield any power. Consider this; if country A decides to stop exports of metal and oil to country B which relies on these goods, country B will be in deep doo doo. Country A will not export these items to country B unless it complies with a certain set of demands. Country B may not do this because it has instilled an idea of superiority among the people and the government itself that will not allow this. Now what can Country B do if this embargo will in time utterly cripple it? To many governments there would only be one option; strike back militarily. In this situation lets say Country B is more powerful then country A. Country B will then take the means to acquire these resources by force. In an opposite situation Country A will win. This has happened. It was basically World War 2. Country A was the United States and Country B was Japan.

The point I am trying to get across is that there is no such thing as an Economic Superpower, a Political Superpower, or Military Superpower. There are only Superpowers. If a country is totally lacking in some respect they will not be a superpower. Consider the USSR. It was an Economic force due to its mass Industrial base. It was a political force due to it basically controlling Eastern Europe. It was a military force due to its...military. This came together to make it a superpower. Is China currently a Economic Powerhouse? Yes it is. It holds significant sway. It does not have the capabilities nor the potential to acquire the abilities to be a superpower.

Shock and Awe:
It does not have the capabilities nor the potential to acquire the abilities to be a superpower.

By what standard do they not? I mean I can see your arguements for them not being a superpower at the moment but what's stoping them from becoming one?

Axolotl:

Shock and Awe:
It does not have the capabilities nor the potential to acquire the abilities to be a superpower.

By what standard do they not? I mean I can see your arguements for them not being a superpower at the moment but what's stoping them from becoming one?

Well I suppose I should clarify. I don't see them being one in the foreseeable future. Is it possible? Yes, but I don't think it will happen.

Shock and Awe:

dyre:
What exactly is a superpower, and why does China want to be one? The CCP's claim to legitimacy is that it provides economic growth and societal stability. In terms of projecting power, it's mostly interested in making advantageous business deals in Africa, not spreading ideology at the tip of a bayonet.

If being a superpower means you have a dozen aircraft carriers or you can land marines all over the world to "spread democracy," then no, China will never be a superpower. Maybe in the la-la land of those sad, weird people who fantasize about a Sino-US total war, then China's inferior military and economic co-dependency with the West puts it at a disadvantage, but for all practical purposes, China is already a world power.

There's an argument to be made that China will suffer from slowed economic growth and a smaller workforce due to its aging population, but your argument seems more of the childish "if we went to war with China we'd win!" sort. Grow up, OP.

The problem with any country becoming an Economic Superpower without teeth is that it is impossible to wield any power. Consider this; if country A decides to stop exports of metal and oil to country B which relies on these goods, country B will be in deep doo doo. Country A will not export these items to country B unless it complies with a certain set of demands. Country B may not do this because it has instilled an idea of superiority among the people and the government itself that will not allow this. Now what can Country B do if this embargo will in time utterly cripple it? To many governments there would only be one option; strike back militarily. In this situation lets say Country B is more powerful then country A. Country B will then take the means to acquire these resources by force. In an opposite situation Country A will win. This has happened. It was basically World War 2. Country A was the United States and Country B was Japan.

The point I am trying to get across is that there is no such thing as an Economic Superpower, a Political Superpower, or Military Superpower. There are only Superpowers. If a country is totally lacking in some respect they will not be a superpower. Consider the USSR. It was an Economic force due to its mass Industrial base. It was a political force due to it basically controlling Eastern Europe. It was a military force due to its...military. This came together to make it a superpower. Is China currently a Economic Powerhouse? Yes it is. It holds significant sway. It does not have the capabilities nor the potential to acquire the abilities to be a superpower.

Eh, I'd say your country A, B, C scenario is a pretty damn reductionist view of the escalation before the US entrance to WW2, but even then, that scenario is simply not applicable to Sino-US relations. Japan was at best a regional power militarily and economically. To suggest that the US would as easily embargo China as it did Japan is absurd. The two economies are co-dependent, to the benefit of them both (well, maybe benefit is a bad choice of words. Rather, ending that economic cooperation would be disastrous to all sides. So sticks, not carrots.). Neither side wants to ruin that relationship; it's a dumb fantasy to think that US-China tensions will ever get worse than harsh rhetoric. Wars between world powers are a thing of the past, thanks to nukes.

Btw, USSR's economy and manufacturing base was a complete joke compared to the US', and even militarily, it wouldn't have stood a chance against the US for the first 20 years of the Cold War (despite Khrushchev's posturing). I would say that China's ability to project power across the world by dealing with existing governments through economic cooperation is just as effective, if not more so, than USSR's power projection (outside of its Eastern European and Asian borders) via weapon sales and government agents sent to new, unstable governments or revolutionary groups.

In any case, there was a time when the US could say "fuck everyone else, I'll invade/rob/bomb who I want." It was a superpower back then, probably the only superpower. That time is over, and superpowers no longer exist. And before you suggest that Iraq and Afghanistan are examples that the US is still a superpower, I mean it can't project its power in countries that other world powers actually care about. I highly doubt the US would dare invade North Korea, or Chechnya, or w/e, without consulting China or Russia first.

dyre:

Eh, I'd say your country A, B, C scenario is a pretty damn reductionist view of the escalation before the US entrance to WW2, but even then, that scenario is simply not applicable to Sino-US relations. Japan was at best a regional power militarily and economically. To suggest that the US would as easily embargo China as it did Japan is absurd. The two economies are co-dependent, to the benefit of them both (well, maybe benefit is a bad choice of words. Rather, ending that economic cooperation would be disastrous to all sides. So sticks, not carrots.). Neither side wants to ruin that relationship; it's a dumb fantasy to think that US-China tensions will ever get worse than harsh rhetoric. Wars between world powers are a thing of the past, thanks to nukes.

Btw, USSR's economy and manufacturing base was a complete joke compared to the US', and even militarily, it wouldn't have stood a chance against the US for the first 20 years of the Cold War (despite Khrushchev's posturing). I would say that China's ability to project power across the world by dealing with existing governments through economic cooperation is just as effective, if not more so, than USSR's power projection (outside of its Eastern European and Asian borders) via weapon sales and government agents sent to new, unstable governments or revolutionary groups.

In any case, there was a time when the US could say "fuck everyone else, I'll invade/rob/bomb who I want." It was a superpower back then, probably the only superpower. That time is over, and superpowers no longer exist. And before you suggest that Iraq and Afghanistan are examples that the US is still a superpower, I mean it can't project its power in countries that other world powers actually care about. I highly doubt the US would dare invade North Korea, or Chechnya, or w/e, without consulting China or Russia first.

1. While I agree that any war between the US and China is a remote possibility we cannot discount the possibility simply due to Economics or the existence of Nuclear Weapons. Remember that trade partners have attacked each other on numerous occasions. Remember the Soviet Union was one of Nazi Germany's biggest trading partners. Nuclear Arms may act as a significant deterrent to any conflict but I wouldn't be to certain on it.

2. I would have to disagree about the balance of power between the USSR and the US during the Cold War. From my understanding the USSR would have a damn good chance of winning any conflict during the 1960s and 1970s. As for China's economic influence compared to that of the USSR I agree. They have far more due to their acceptance of using Capitalist systems.

3. While I agree that the US can no longer pretend to be the one and only as it did in the past, I would still say it retains it's status as a superpower. A superpower only needs to be dominant everywhere, something the US most certainly is at the present time. Is it as dominant as the past? No, but it retains its status. However superpower has more then one definition so it depends who you ask.

Shock and Awe:

1. While I agree that any war between the US and China is a remote possibility we cannot discount the possibility simply due to Economics or the existence of Nuclear Weapons. Remember that trade partners have attacked each other on numerous occasions. Remember the Soviet Union was one of Nazi Germany's biggest trading partners. Nuclear Arms may act as a significant deterrent to any conflict but I wouldn't be to certain on it.

2. I would have to disagree about the balance of power between the USSR and the US during the Cold War. From my understanding the USSR would have a damn good chance of winning any conflict during the 1960s and 1970s. As for China's economic influence compared to that of the USSR I agree. They have far more due to their acceptance of using Capitalist systems.

3. While I agree that the US can no longer pretend to be the one and only as it did in the past, I would still say it retains it's status as a superpower. A superpower only needs to be dominant everywhere, something the US most certainly is at the present time. Is it as dominant as the past? No, but it retains its status. However superpower has more then one definition so it depends who you ask.

1. Yeah, but I don't think the world was nearly as globalized back then. I can't say this for sure, but I bet ending trade with the Soviets would not have been as disastrous for the Germans as ending trade with China would be for the US. And nuclear arms are a pretty great deterrent, imo, especially now that the delivery systems are good enough (or stealthy enough) so that even though China is behind us in missile technology, they could still get a missile or suitcase through. And if we ever get to a point at which world powers are willing to go to war even if they know they'll get nuked, I don't care who's the bigger power; I'm moving to Switzerland. Or Madagascar.

2. Late 60s to 70s would be when the Soviets closed the military gap, at least in terms of being able to nuke us, yeah. I was talking about the years from the end of WW2 to the end of Khrushchev's reign (so a little less than 20 years). Anyway, what I'm saying about China is that for practical purposes (so, everyday world events, not a remote WW3 scenario), China is just as much of a superpower as the USSR was in terms of international power projection. Sure, if the USSR actually all-out invaded Angola or Egypt or the Congo back in the Cold War, they'd probably be more successful than if the Chinese did it now, but that's not really a practical scenario.

3. I wouldn't say the US is dominant everywhere though. It doesn't have much influence (nor does it try to exert much) on Europe, South America, or Africa, and while a lot of Southeast Asia is nominally pro-US and enjoys a large amount of trade with the US, at best the US is a first among equals there (or a second, or third, etc, depending on the country).

I think if you define a superpower as a nation that is able to exert an overwhelming degree of control on its interests around the world, then the US is a superpower, but if you define it as a nation that is able to exert that control everywhere on the planet, then the US is no longer a superpower (and no superpowers will exist in the near future).

In summary, China won't be a superpower in the Cold War sense, but US is fast declining from that position and after it loses that status (if it hasn't already), no other nation will fill it because being a superpower isn't really possible anymore.

statistically speaking IF there was a nuclear war between China and the US ("fap, fap, fap") even if they both went off the MAD ledge the Chinese would still have more people alive AFTER the bombs than the US did at the start.

this is partly why Nixon (thanks to Kissinger) when to China, why China was NOT the USs enemy during the Cold War (check the history books) and why there will NOT be "a war".

furthermore it does not want to spread an ideology or metaphorically or physically conquer more land in the name of it.

basically China is interested in China and nothing else.

you may choose to believe this or not but the leaders of China have the best interests of the country on their minds. they may be supposed "communists" (small "c" because they really aren't) but they are also Chinese and they still believe in "the mandate of heaven" and that they have a duty...they aren't doing "all this" for shits and giggles y'know...

there may be some contention around the edges but in terms of cold hard light of day world geopolitical affairs and real "danger" towards the status quo they are basically a benign state.

what will happen is that China is and will continue to grow "a middle class", working conditions and wages will rise, growth will slow and it switch to a predominately internal service based economy just as nations other developed nations have done in the late 20th and the idea that it has to sustain export rates is overly simplistic economic thinking: there is no developed nation depends on exports for the majority of its economic activity. the majority economic activity in nations with a functioning "middle class" (with purchasing power parity inside their domestic economy) is always the service sector (in both the UK and German for example the service sector is 70% of GDP) and during and once this transition has occurred the low paid manufacturing jobs that can no longer be sustained in such an economy will move to the next BRICs (or whatever) nation leaving "a developed" nation in its wake and a predominately self sustaining Chinese middle class that will number in the hundreds of millions...

western, English speaking people have some very funny ideas about what China is like. they read anglo saxon commentators who are basically wishing, either consciously or unconsciously, for the country to "fail" and gather all this crap into a view of a country that bares little relation to reality...it's all Tibetan oppression (who would have thought so many western people would find it so easy to back theocracy ?..), "the army on the streets" and locked in factories with suicide nets...except its not...not when you really look (and for the record i have close family friends who live there by choice and have spent a great deal of time talking to Chinese over the years due to a certain related gaming hobby...).

lemmie give you an example: some people see the new built cities and the centuries old agrarian living "right next door" as an economic weakness and yet the truth is it lends an unusual robustness to Chinas economy because while people will travel to the new cities to look for work if they fail to find it huge swathes of them simply go back home and back to living off the land until such time as they try again.

just think about that for a second...and compare it to what people do in your own country when people can't find work...which is usually to take money out of the economy...

the weirdest thing about Beijing right now is just how much it is like a city in the US...except the people are different...people who for example instinctively don't like credit, who save vast sums collectively in banks and play the "i need money to buy something" game the other way, hence the real reason why China has money to lend to the world; not because it's "fake money" generated by some fake bubble economy but because 1.35 billion Chinese save on average almost 20% of their entire personal income.

i see all this crap about China and tbth all i see again is "the lie".

the same lie that nowadays causes some people to occasionally even frame the EU as a geopolitical threat to the "anglo saxon" English speaking nations.

the lie that "we just want you to get rich & developed like us." and yet when anyone does look at the what was historically done and puts much of it into practice and actually achieves the goal of becoming "as rich" (which btw always means a new market as well as a competitor as far as the interconnected global economics goes) all of a sudden they are considered a threat...

it puerile and bullshit is what it is.

China and the Chinese are is NOT your enemy.

on the other hand people who think China is...those kinds of people might very well enemies of all of us...

 

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