The Chinese are smart people, no doubt, but rule by statist bureaucracy carries the seeds of its own destruction, no matter how smart the people are who are running it. This article is a welcome counterweight to the many alternative media articles that have recently hailed China as the dominant power for the next few centuries. From Joseph Solis-Mullen at mises.org:
While the US has its problems, future global Chinese supremacy won’t be one. Far from being in a position of overwhelming strength, China and its Communist leadership face imminent multifront domestic crises that will threaten the existence not only of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) but the existence of the Chinese state as a unified whole. Further, there are several insurmountable obstacles to it seriously disturbing core US interests or expanding its influence much beyond its own coasts before this happens.
First, China’s geography is terrible if projecting power is a state aim. Endless flatlands running into Mongolia and Siberia to the north, deserts and mountains to the west, more mountains and dense jungle to the south, while its eastern coast is ringed by states terrified of an expansionist China. Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, along with other affected regional actors such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and India will work hard to keep China boxed in. One of the most trade-dependent countries of the existing order, China faces hazardous supply chain access in the event of any conflict in the South or East China Seas.
China’s internal geography breeds its own problems. For one thing, it is seriously strapped for foodstuffs. A shocking statistic: on a per capita basis it has less arable agricultural land than Saudi Arabia. What farmland China does have requires enormous amounts of petrochemical fertilizers and laborers to keep even moderately productive. Further, lacking interconnected east-west-flowing waterways, moving mass amounts of produce around internally is expensive and inefficient over the vast distances that locally produced foodstuffs must travel to the highly populated eastern seaboard provinces. The world’s largest food importer by far, it is heavily reliant on the continued stability of global supply chains and access to markets.