According to Ji Young Choi, China might develop the largest economy in the world, but that doesn’t mean it will become the No. 1 global superpower.
On March 7, Choi, a politics and government professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, gave a lecture on the rise of China for the Great Decisions lecture series.
According to Choi, China has a lot of weaknesses, both internal and external, that could prevent the country from becoming the No. 1 superpower. Choi said that the United States is currently No. 1 when it comes to GDP and military strength. China comes in second place, Choi said. “The total Gross Domestic Product for China in 2012, said Choi said, was $18.4 trillion,” Choi said.
However, according to Choi, China has a fairly low income per-capita. “Their per-capita income is around $9,000, which is much lower than the United States’,” Choi said. The US’ income per-capita (for 2012) was around $28,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Another internal problem that negatively affects China, according to Choi, is the country’s location. “(Its) No. 1 problem is the geography,” Choi said. “(China) does not have access to sea (trade) routes, nor do they have many allies on any of their borders. Many of their neighboring countries are allies of the United States,” he added. Choi explained that sea routes are a necessity for a country to import and export goods, such as natural resources and raw materials. Other problems that Choi believes are contributing to China’s inability to become a dominant superpower include the country’s environmental issues, overwhelming population, and domestic political instability.
One audience member brought up the issue of “brain drain,” the problem where China’s highly educated youth go to study overseas, and then do not want to come back to China. Choi said that “brain drain” is an issue because China spends a lot of money to educate its youth, but then they go to Western nations and to study and end up staying there because they enjoy the culture and lifestyle.
However, not all of China’s youths are escaping the country. According to Choi, there is a fairly large percentage of the country’s youth population that is developing more and more of a sense of nationalism. Choi says that China’s political system has drifted away from communism, and that the country could now be more accurately described as an “Authoritarian-Capitalist” system. “It seems to be working out pretty well so far,” Choi said.
Choi offered several ways in which China could improve its global standing to get closer to becoming an international superpower. “China needs to change its ideology,” Choi said. “For the past couple of decades, they have had somewhat of a superiority complex.”