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The Rise of China Mini-Documentary | Episode 1 | China’s Economic Miracle
Two centuries ago, Napoleon warned, “Let China sleep: when she wakes, she will shake the world.”
The rise of China will undoubtedly be one of the great dramas of the twenty-first century. China’s extraordinary economic growth and active diplomacy are already transforming East Asia, and future decades will see even greater increases in Chinese power and influence.
In this episode we will look only at the sheer size of China today. We will then look at it’s threats, challenges and confrontations with America in future episodes.
In 1980, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was less than 300 billion dollars; by 2015, it was 11 trillion dollars—making it the world’s second-largest economy by market exchange rates. China’s trade with the outside world in 1980 amounted to less than 40 billion dollars; by 2015, it had increased one hundredfold, to a whopping 4 trillion dollars.
Even at its lower growth rate in 2015, China’s economy created a Greece every sixteen weeks and an Israel every twenty-five weeks.
Measured by purchasing power parity, which measures how many aircraft, missiles, ships, sailors, pilots, drones, bases, and other military- related items a state can buy and the prices it has to pay in its own national currency, China has not only surpassed the US, but also now accounts for roughly 18 percent of world GDP, compared to just 2 percent in 1980.
By 2005, the country was building the square-foot equivalent of today’s Rome every two weeks.
Between 2011 and 2013, China both produced and used more cement than US did in the entire twentieth century.
On its current path, China will surpass the US to become the world leader in research-and-development spending by 2019.
Since June 2013, the world’s fastest supercomputer has been located not in Silicon Valley but in China. Indeed, in the rankings of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers—a list from which China was absent in 2001—today it has 167, two more than the United States. Moreover, China’s top supercomputer is five times faster than the closest American competitor. And while China’s supercomputers previously relied heavily on American processors, its top computer in 2016 was built entirely with domestic processors.
As China’s economy has gotten bigger, its guns and tanks—and their twenty-first-century equivalents—have gotten better, and allowed for a new level of competition with other great powers, especially the United States. Just as technology start-ups like Facebook and Uber have used the concept of disruptive innovation to upend previously dominant firms, the Chinese military is developing new technologies that can counter ships, planes, and satellites that the US has developed over decades—and for a fraction of the cost.
China has increased its defense spending nearly fivefold over the last decade. China currently spends more on defense than Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam combined, and China’s military spending is second only to the United States.
China is now building a Blue Water navy. A Blue Water navy patrols the oceans. It will take another thirty years (assuming economic progression) for China to build naval capacity to seriously challenge the most powerful seaborne force the world has ever seen – the US navy. But in the medium to short term, as it builds, and trains, and learns, the Chinese navy will bump up against its rivals in the seas; and how those bumps are managed will define great power politics in this century.
China intends to become a two-ocean power (Pacific and Indian). To achieve this China is investing in deep-water ports in Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – an investment which buys it good relations, the potential for its future navy to have friendly bases to visit or reside in, and trade links back home.
In 2014, China inaugurated a major international economic development program by financing infrastructure projects in the historical silk route countries. It is engaged in financing economic infrastructure projects in the silk route countries with positive ROI for China and the recipient countries.
The Chinese are also building ports in Kenya, railway lines in Angola, and a hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia. They are scouring the length and breadth of the whole of Africa for minerals and precious metals.
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