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The Next Superpower?

Entry 822, on 2008-07-29 at 22:45:12 (Rating 2, Politics)

It seems that I hear every day how China is rapidly heading towards being the most important political and economic center of the world. But how real is that prediction? I saw some news items today which were relevant to the theory...

First, I read an interesting opinion from someone who had spent time working in China who said that the common idea that the country was poised to take over as the greatest economic and military power in the world is faulty. He made the interesting point that China's power is based on an extensive and cheap workforce but that won't last because the population is rapidly ageing - ironically as a result of the one child per family policy.

Maybe he's right and maybe he's wrong. Politics can change quickly and that means the future of the country could change rapidly as well. Its entirely possible that the US is nearing the end of its time as the world's leading superpower but I wouldn't like to make that prediction and although I am often critical of the US leadership there are a lot of countries which would be much worse as the world superpower.

A related article describes how China now has more Internet users than any other country. Again, I wouldn't necessarily say this is a particularly important statistic. There are just a lot of people in China, so even if a small fraction of them use the 'net (the number is under 20%) they can still represent a huge number. But where are the innovations and important on-line services coming from China? They don't seem to exist.

Compare this with New Zealand where we have the highest proportion of bloggers in the world. A study showed almost 8% of New Zealanders have a blog, which was higher than any of the other 15 countries surveyed. Of course, a large fraction of them are nonsense, and blogging isn't necessarily a good indicator of innovation, but it does show how Internet-centric a country is.

So I guess we will just to wait to see what happens. I did also read another rather alarming article which predicted fundamentalist Islam is poised to take over as the next dominant culture. Now there's an unhappy thought!

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