A common prediction repeated in various Australian media organs and elsewhere, is that China will not and indeed cannot become a global “superpower”. While this argument takes many forms, it tends to revolve around the same theme that ‘liberty’, ‘democracy’, and ‘free markets’, however defined, are essential ingredients in achieving a stable, industrialsed power.
This argument is an absurd one, only able to hoodwink those profoundly ignorant of history (i.e, the average Australian). One only need look to living memory to remember the Soviet Union, a universally recognized global ‘superpower’ that gave the ‘free’, capitalistic world a run for its roubles, even despite the fundamental limitations of its command economy, which was managed by abacus wielding eggheads in Moscow.
While you could argue that USSR was not ‘stable’ (it collapsed), the very fact that a state like this could exist let alone have achieved the prominence it did casts problems for the China’s-collapse/stagnation-is-inevitable set, and one could go even further and argue that it’s collapse was not inevitable at all, but a freak occurrence brought about by the grave naiveté and stupidity of Gorbachev and his toadies.
All of this considered, China is not the Soviet Union. It is a mixed economy par excellence headed by scheming, competent-enough ‘technocratic’ Marxist-Leninist cabal with an extreme pragmatist bent unsure of its own ideology. China meets all of the perquisites and conditions, necessary or sufficient, on which global power is predicated; population size, land-area, sea-access, resource endowment, sound (enough) economic and political administration. China as a global power is not an unusual development; China was about on par with that other great ‘superpower’ of antiquity, the Roman Empire, during the Han dynasty, was perhaps the most powerful and technologically advanced state in the world during its medieval Song dynasty, and achieved similar heights during various of its other dynastic periods as well. Like all other states in history, its fortunes and relative global prominence has waxed and waned throughout the centuries, but it has always resumed its position as relatively stable, relatively unitary global power. It is hard to believe it cannot do it again.
Beyond many of its more obvious advantages such as its vast population China have another, hidden, advantage that at the very minimum removes a significant ceiling that looms over the ambitions of many states and their desire to industrialize. The Chinese, along with other ethnicities encompassing the Asian continental human sub-population, have the highest average IQ in the world. East-Asian populations have an average IQ measured at about 103, compared to Caucasian European populations, which measure at about 100 depending upon the sub-group. This is critical because this high average IQ prevents the economic trajectory of the Middle Kingdom from being curtailed by human capital limitations.
IQ is a central quality in determining human capital factors, and the wealth and prosperity of nations. It is the core of a nexus of traits and behaviours, from obvious correlates such as educability and occupational competency, to more unexpected tendencies such as criminality, promiscuity, interpersonal aggression and mental illness. It is mostly ignored by economists, who do not understand it or refuse to see human populations and individuals as anything other than fungible, interchangeable entities, all equally capable of the same feats and development given the same opportunities. Individually and within cohorts it is mostly heritable; the jury is still ‘out’ on whether group differences, such as the Caucasian – East Asian difference, possess a partial or total genetic etiology, but I am willing to believe that they mostly do. Even if they don’t, it’s irrelevant anyway; IQ seems mostly intractable and stable; even if it were possible to permanently eradicate group differences in cognitive ability through environmental intervention, nobody knows how to, and won’t for a very long time.
By 2050, China’s GDP may well be ~214% that of the United States. Antony Karlin over at the heretical Unz.com speculates on the exact number here. Whatever it will be, China will be a force to be reckoned with, and at the very least will restore the dual-power status quo that characterized geopolitics prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Except the challenge it will pose to the increasingly complacent West will far outweigh that of the CCCP. China isn’t going ‘ex-growth’ any time soon, and we’d do well not to pin our hopes to it suddenly collapsing amongst the ruins of the other great ex-regimes of history.