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Jeanne Schmelzer

It is interesting that I've never heard anyone fear India as being our rival. I would suppose that no one fears a democracy. They only fear totalitarian states.

Dominic Schmelzer

The EU (including the UK, of course) is both larger than the US and has a larger/comparable economy than the US's. Yet we do not fear the EU, even if its technology is likewise quite comparable to the US's. We know, perhaps because of the democratic persuasion, but probably not, that the EU has only a weak *will* and/or no ambitions at world hegemony, for the first time in almost a millenium. The same for modern Russia, even though it could still do us (or whoever it wanted to) a halibut lot of damage. Russia no longer has the will to do so. As for India, it is a very diversified country where the best language for communicating internally is often English, meaning that India is not a "nation" but a many-peopled superstate. It is likewise the entire extent to a "civilization" according to S. Huntington's categories – or are there any other Hindi/Hindu countries out there?

Not so, China, not so. China has been growing 5-10% per year over the past 25 years economically. For this, we have respect. About 2/3rds of the Chinese population speaks "Chinese" (the dialect Mandarin, if I’m not mistaken, or is it Cantonese?) meaning that we are not talking about a primarily mixed population but about a superstate *and* a nation. National states not only have interests but also a stronger collective will. A dictator or a comparable fascist regime can direct this will quite easily, if the situation calls for it. At the same time, democracy is hardly a safeguard against a collective political will.

The Soviet Union was slightly larger than the US in population, although an attentive observer would have noticed that the US’s population was growing at a more than healthy rate while the Soviet population was looking into the future at a shrinking population, which has already come to pass (since 1995?). At the same time, the USSR’s economy was never anything close to the size of the US’s. Its technology was only in some areas comparable, especially those which were led (as in the US) by German émigrés. Nevertheless, we had enormous problems with the USSR, in which slightly more than half of the population was Russian! The USSR had a definite political will, in this case ideologically driven and only slightly nationally driven. One can argue whether the collective will was a strong factor in its power, outside of the time around WWII.

The reason we “fear” China is because it is catching up economically and technologically, although this is a process that might take another half a century, as most people correctly see. It is comparable to Germany’s catch up to Great Britain in the second half of the 19th century, where GB was already showing signs of stagnation, both of them having about 14% of the world economy at the beginning of the last century. It’s population? It was also comparable to the British. And it’s birth rate was already falling to below 2 per woman! (Only under fascism in the 1930s did this change for a short period.) Btw, China’s population in absolute terms is still four times that of the US’s! (And will continue to be so another four decades.)

In absolute terms, population is only important when all other things (technology, wealth, resources) are relatively equally. With China, this gap is shrinking, but at a lot lower rate than one needs for world dominance – compare the EU’s situation and its very small lag behind the US. It would take a decade or two for the EU to come up to par with the US, militarily speaking, even if it had the will.

What we fear about China is its collective will. At the moment, however, its people are much more concerned about economic growth than conflict with the US. Even its political will and its desire to contend with the US seems to have dimmed over the past couple years. The question is, how long will internal, material strivings replace the need to find affirmation on the international level? What I fear personally is a Chinese inferiority complex that demands the place in the world which it is entitled to – world dominance. (Compare once again Germany and its rush to be among the global players through colonies, navy and armaments at the end of the 19th century.)

Back to population. No. Back to demographics! – The reason why a future shrinking Chinese population is a positive sign for the country who is sitting in the Chinese’s rightful spot (i.e. the US) in world politics is not because of the absolute numbers but because of the internal shape of this population. 50-year olds do not fight good wars, except as hardened generals. A nation finds a strong political will when a good bulk of its people are under thirty. (Again, compare the EU, where 50% of its population is over 40 – actually over 38, I think. Give it two more years:-) Thank God that the Chinese are worried about playing catch up economically at the moment! But will it remain that way the next thirty years, until they are too old to fight about it? Therein lies our fear.

Daniel Schmelzer

Regarding economic growth of 5-10% over the last 25 years, yes it earns our respect, but past growth does not make future growth inevitable. Indeed, such high growth implies high risk of recessions and depressions, the social consequences of which the dictatorship may not able to handle. You have to figure that into your probabilities.

Regarding the EU, yes we have comparably-sized economies. The reason that we have nothing to fear from the EU is that the US will likely have a far larger economy and a larger population than the EU in the future. It is only a coincidence that the EU does not appear at this time to have superpower ambitions.

Dominic Schmelzer

The dictatorship may not be able to handle it, but this may swing in two different directions - positive/reform or negative/empire (compare French Revolution/Napoleon). There is an overabundance of energy in the masses, and the question is, where this energy can be directed, internally or externally. It can quite easily be directed toward conquest...

By the way, past growth *does* make future growth more than likely. Growth does not occur in a vacuum. There is a dynamic behind growth that cannot *easily* be turned on or off...

Tom

What America should fear is Americanisation of the World. This would mean eventually the entire world would embrase capitalism.
I agree that China might not be a problem in 2050. But what about 2100? And America with 5% of the world population will be treated like what it is, a marginal 5%.

India, EU, perhaps United Moslems, United Latin America, United South East Asia, even a United Black Africa might all be states all having adopted capitalism more powerful than the US. China is the least of America's problems. Today the the 8th most powerful nation is probably Australia. This is what America will become. Irrelevant unless it attaches itself to some larger power.

Something similar happened to Portugal in 1400s. Portugal had advanced technology that lead them to monopolise world trade routes. Then Spain, France, Netherlands, England all adopted Portugal's system and without a battle fought made Portugal irrelevant.

On the other hand an America where the Hispanics and Blacks would form the majority by 2050 would be a very different America. It might resemble post-Apartheid S. Africa. Where anarchy and socialism rule.

In 2050 in more ways than one would be the begining of the end. Can America stop it? If they support racist immigration and world communist parties. Both highly unlikely.

Daniel Schmelzer

One thing's for certain. The US of 2050 will US will look far different than the one of today, whether or not the country is less racially/culturally homogeneous.

I welcome the world embracing capitalism. It means that there will be more middle class customers overseas to buy our goods. A rising tide lifts all boats, even if the distribution doesn't go all our way. This redistribution has been going on since the end of WWII, and I have no reason to fear its continuation. We have made out splendidly on the deal.

Nilu

As an Indian, in the U.S. - I simply do not understand the uniform underlying assumption in all these comments. Why should America being surpassed by someone in the next 50 years be a cause for fear?

People in this page seem to assume that America being a superpower is its' right and that other countries becoming or aiming at that status is a 'threat' to Americans.

I am at a loss to explain the reasons.

Daniel Schmelzer

Well, it's not all a matter of unrealistic neuroses. We just got done spending many trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives burying superpowers that promoted values antithetical to our own. Who relishes the prospect of having to do that again?

Nilu

You won that battle with Communism not just beacuse of the millions of dollars , but primarily beacuse of being on the right side.

If there is a country or for that matter a fellow human whi happens to do better than ourselves, it is because of his strength and that needs to be respected. I can understand if you are paranoid about the ills of dictatorship or Islamic Jehad.....but being threatened because of neighbours' (genuine?)success does not make a good case.

Daniel Schmelzer

I agree with you, but the primary fear that some have is that a system that is antithetical to ours (Chinese communist dictatorship) would be more powerful based on numbers alone, not on the relative success on an individual level. This is relatively new territory for Americans. We were stronger in numbers than the Axis powers in World War II and the Soviet Union, for instance. My post was meant to allay those fears.

In any event, even though our system was better, and that may have been the primary reason that the Axis powers and the Soviets were buried, it still took a vast amount of money and lives.

keith

no, chinese is kind people, we dont wanna be anyone 's enemy wheather we are democrocy or totaliterian

Chris

Actually, you all are only looking at the short term. You need to remember that 50 years or even 100 years is a very short period in time. Civilisations are measured by CENTURIES AND MILLENIA, not decades. The US may very well be passed by someone at some point, but it won't last... The US is ONE OF THE WORLD'S YOUNGEST SOCIETIES! It's just getting started. Since independance, the population of the US has increased at one of the fastest rates in history. The first census was in 1790, the US has 3.9 million people. By 1900, it has 76,000,000! A gain of 2,700% By 2000 it had 281,000,000-a gain of 273%-and that was probably too low. The Census admits there are more illegals than they could count and that they may have missed the legal count by 3,300,000. Today the estimated population of the US has already grown to 295,500,000. As there are between 8-15 million uncounted people here the population is still too low-it's probably already topped 300,000,000. There has never been a society like the USA before. People from all over the world are moving here in numbers hereto never before seen. Every year 6,000,000 people apply for a US citizenship. Every year Cuban boat people try to cross a sea and Mexicans and others dig under the border to try to cross. China and India have no such "problems." In the battle of who is better, America wins, no questions asked. Our Embassies are filled worldwide with people attempting to come to it. China and India have NEGATIVE migration. More people leave than move in-mostly to you know where (USA)! And the US has been following the HIGH SERIES projections, NOT the MIDDLE SERIES! It's fertility rate has been rising since the mid 1980's and immigration has been rising for 30 years. It's going to outrun all others in the longrun. Consistent, steady growth is always better than large jumps. You see, worldwide, population growth is slowing, fertility is falling in almost all countries, and world projections have steadily been reduced. Depopulation is the world's ultimate problem, not growth. Collapsing fertility rates worldwide will cause the world to slow dramatically. The US, even though its high fertility cannot be sustained, will grow long enough that it pass all others except possibly India. China's population is aging at a rate never before seen, and India's fertility is falling, along with its projections. After 2050, China will begin to decline rapdidly, falling back from 1.4 billion to well under 1 billion. India will begin to slow down dramatically after 2050 and stagnate after 2100. By the year 2050, America is projected to AT LEAST have 420,000,000, and this is continually revised upward. It could be as high as 553,000,000 and this high series projection has proved too low already. By 2100, the US will AT LEAST have grown to 600,000,000. However, it could very well be nearly 1 billion or as high as 1.2 billion or even higher. This will be equal to or larger than China, and also gaining on India, which will have somewhere between 1.5 and 1.8 billion. You see, you have to look into the future farther than 50 years. 50 years is a short life span for civilisation. US growth will continue far into the future. We will have a billion people relatively soon, and we will be larger than China or India at some point. We are projected to continue growing for at least another 400 years. Those Yankees aren't just going to ride off slowly into the sunset, we will be around for a long, long time.

Daniel Schmelzer

Damn, Chris. The blog software has hard paragraph breaks for a reason! ;-)

You are correct that we're following the high variant at this time. However, that could change rather quickly. There have been times in recent U.S. history when the flow of immigrants has nearly stopped. So the course of future demography that you lay out is not a given by a long shot.

Because of the nature of these projections, immigration is the toughest variable for the demographers to peg and it has a large impact on population growth. For this reason, the U.S. population projections are the least reliable among the group of countries given above.

Chris

Well, Dominic used as much space as me, and no one complained about him : ) I realize I probably sound arrogant to most people, but that wasn't the point. The point is, the US has a very bright future ahead of it, not a dim one as some would have you believe. The growth in US population to 2050 will be at least 49%, in stark contrast to Europe and Japan. The transfer of population to the US from elsewhere is the greatest mass migration in human history. Europeans bemoan the "brain drain" of thier best and most educated to the US, Canadians bemoan the loss of medical professionals to the US, resulting in poorer quality there. The Japanese debate more immigration to try to keep pace. As Europe, Japan, China, and eventually Canada, New Zealand, and Australia age and decline, the US will keep on rolling. The US has that certain something that makes people want to be a part of it. China and India may approach US strength someday, but it will be temporary. The EU briefly matched the US economy in 1995 upon enlargement, but the US has outgrown Europe for 20 years, and US productivity is twice that of the EU. Ultimately, the whole world will stagnate demographically, so the goal is who can sustain themselves longer. In the end, the US will be in the best position demographically, although the social divisions may harm it.

Chris

I need to make a correction, forgive me... I stated the US population grew 2,700% in the 19th century. That was incorrect. It increased by 1,400%. The first census was taken in 1790 and was 3,900,000. By 1800 it had increased to 5,300,000. From 5.3 million to over 79,000,000 is nearly 1,400%. The revised census figures show 79,000,000 in 1900.I quoted another figure by mistake.

Chris

Here are some studies done outside the USA about this subject everyone should read. These two are from a British magazine called "The Economist:" http://www.drabruzzi.com/half_a%20billion_americans.htm and http://www.drabruzzi.com/tale_of_two_bellies.htm. The next one is from a Japanese Research Institution: http://www.marubeni.co.jp/research/eindex/0209/body.html. It is a good perspective on what other powers worry about (the exact opposite of what Americans worry about)! By the way, these links don't work on this site, so open a browser and type them yourself. For the Japanese one, it goes to the main site for some reason, so go to Google.com and type these words: Marubeni US Dodging. It is the very first link. Double check with my addresses. Happy Reading!

Chris

More corrections, sorry! Not sure why it won't show up correctly... In the blank spaces of the Economist sites above there are underscores. The underline hid them. In the Japanese site the ending is body.html. Remember to search those exact words above on Google to find the article. Cheers!

Nathan Hampton

This conversation has wound some interesting twists and turns so I'll try to be brief ;) and pointed.

1a) The concerns about China, that I find, are mostly because of worsening diplomatic relations with Japan. These bitter arch-enemies are strutting like cocks about to strike. Comparing the two, it's easy to see that China'd win, but we do have a treaty signed at the end of the WWII that says that the US will protect Japan if they're attacked. Japan starts the war and pulls the US into it to fight it for them. Imperialist Japan with the US as its momma protector.

1b) Alternate scenario is that North Korea, puppet arm of China since the Korean War, attacks Japan beginning Korean War II. We leave China alone while trying to fight N.Korea while China supports N.Korea's war machine.

2a) India's technology development has been rapid and impressive. Junior programming positions are few and far between in the US because of it. Consequently, in a short time the only senior developers will be from these very positions that were outsourced to India. With Taiwan in arm's reach of China's Red Army and most of our developers in India, our hi-tech industries are sitting ducks to Indo-Chinese relations.

2b) With the rise of technology in both China and India, the shortening supply of oil will get taxed harder. While India and China both have the option of producing a different infrastructure that the US has to retool to include, the price of oil right now is most alluring. If so, then the Oil Wars will begin is earnest as the US is trying to militarily control the Middle East. Muslims, Hindus, Communists, and Christians all in a clash over Texas Tea.

3) If any of the four scenarios occur, the US economy and security is jeopardized. According to a DoD report, the bigger threat of outright confrontationalism is with Nigeria which isn't as advanced in technology or education and would then have a growing youth population bent on destruction like modern inner-city gangs.

4) Democratization of the planet is both fool-hardy and unrealistic. The development of a stable government is dependant on the people themselves. The current experiment in Iraq is going to fail miserably as soon as the US leaves. Dictatorships are all some societies know. China's been a dictatorship for 4 millenia. India's making progress but certain intrinsic ideas and beliefs of the society make it vulnerable to its own self-destruction. Because of this, the US is also falling away from the founding principles of freedom, self-government, and responsibility that made the great nation it was and is becoming as morally and socially disrepute as the Netherlands or France. Rome didn't fall from the outside. It fell from the inside. Welcome to the new Rome.

Gary Cheng

I'm a Chinese guy. I have to say I was slightly shocked when I read some of the comment above.

To be frank, I have to admitted the governance here does belong to some sort of dictatorship, but it's totally different from the Hitler Nazism now, especially after the Age of Mao Tzedong. Still there are lots of things that the people were not properly protected by the law and the performance of the government is not satisfying, but it's absolutely not the time when people were killed at the will of government. Actually people can think freely, talk freely, they also can criticise the leader in public without fear to be captured. however, the media is controlled by the Party.

Things is not good here, but not bad as you think. The Chinese people don't like warfare either. At least I'm not someone who will fight for ideas such as communism. Most of Chinese today won't.

Taiwan is a special case. In my opinion I deem it Taiwanese's right to decide its own fate, while most of Chinese don't hold the same one. I think this is mainly because the government often stress the taiwan issue in order to divert the civil conflict. After all, the Chinese people is not equal to the government.

With time going, even the government itself is changing. After the previous Jiang, the Hu administration is much more open and practical. Though slow, I do believe the political regime will shift to a democratic one in future under the great pressure of mind-liberalisation and marketlisation.

Another point I want to indicate is that Chinese history is consisted of a serie of being invaded. Actually China rarely invaded other country in the past 2000 years. I'm not saying it guarantees anything but I think it might imply something. Bad images about China comes from Korean War, Indian War and Vietnam War. Some fault is on China so I'm not gonna justify them, but for defense they all took place around China and we did not occupy them.

Last words: things often differ from what you think and if you have the interests to explore a real China, I'd be glad to be your help.

Daniel Schmelzer

I think it will be difficult to prove to an American that a benevolent dictatorship is to be trusted, if only because these dictatorships can turn nasty quickly. Our experience against dictatorships suggests that we should arm ourselves for war while hoping for the best.

And while it is true that in comparison to Mao's government, Hu and company appear very progressive, some of the Chinese of today seem to measure how far this change has gone a little differently than the average American. Always remember that a majority of Americans are religious. For one, the Roman Catholic Church is being persecuted by the Chinese dictatorship. Also, every month or so, I walk by Falun Gong protests that are staged to shed light on the fact that thousands of its practioners have been killed recently by the Chinese dictatorship. So in this very important sense (to an American), nothing has changed in China for the better. This isn't simply a matter of Americans focusing unduly on the negatives, although that sometimes happens too.

Chris

Another thing to remember is that population is not, in and of itself, a route to riches and power. If it were, China and India would have always been the world's leading societies. The United States assumed the economic throne shortly after the civil war when it had a population of 50,000,000 (1880 census). China and India had a population that size 200 years before. Other things matter in the economic world also, such as income per person (the wealthier the people become, the more they can buy, and the more they buy, the more needs to be made). As for population, it is important, however, and the US has maintained one of the highest growth rates in the history of the world. In 1790, relatively recently, the US had 3,900,000 people. Now it has 295,600,000. It will be over a billion within a century or more. The growth between 1800 and 1900 was 71,000,000. Between 1900 and 2000, it was 205,000,000. US population growth, in sheer numbers, is soaring. We are only getting started here. You can't pronounce a brand new, upstart society dead when it's in the very early stages of birth. If, in 2100, the US does achieve a population of 1.2 billion or, quite possibly, more, with a per capita GDP of $80,000, it will be an economy of a magnitude never before seen.

Chris

China is the world's greatest humanitarian tragedy, happening in slow motion. China is aging at a rate hereto never before seen on Earth. The median age rises by a decade every 20 years or so. By 2050, China will have 400-450 million people over the age of 65. It will take 100% of GDP for them to care for them. That is not sustainable. It is too late for China, the one child policy has a negative effect - they will get old before they get rich. The total fertility rate in China has fallen to 1.6, far below the 2.1 for replacement, and will fall more. The US fertility rate has risen to 2.1, and will rise further. The US also by far has immigration on it's side-in the 70's it took in 6 million, in the 80's 7 million, and in the 90's a whopping 11 million. The USA is FAR ahead of any others in immigration. The immigrants are young, vibrant, and will add dynamism to the economy. More people leave China than move in by a 3 to 1 margin, it is not a country vast numbers want to go to. Among the 10 fastest growing countries in total numbers, only the US appears from first world nations. Within this centry, America WILL pass China because it is not possible for China to avoid decline - the population is aging too fast and the birth rate is too low.

Chris

Today China's leader Wen is in India trying to forge an alliance to defeat America. He bragged that together China and India could "lead the world in information technology, heralding a new Asian Century." Both these countries honestly think the USA is washed up and finished. Well, MAYBE these two societies will succeed where Japan, the USSR, and OPEC failed and subordinate America economically, but America has been there before... We will survive because we have before. Here again are the addresses for the research in case my previous posts caused some confusion. (Of course these all start with http://www) drabruzzi.com/half_a%20billion_americans.htm, drabruzzi.com/tale_of_two_bellies.htm, and marubeni.co.jp/research/eindex/0209/body.html; I didn't realize the first posts would be underlined... Read these please, it is eye opening. The 21st century will be what the last one was-an American one.

Rabbi Moshe Killinger

If corruption, discipline and uniification of all the diverse Indian castes and communities is handelled well in the next century or so, India will be number one.

Chris

The US population, according to the Census Bureau's "clock" which is updated every minute, has just topped 296,000,000. This is the official estimate, and these are always lower that the actual number. Nevertheless, the United States of America remains on track to meet or EXCEED the "high series" projection for 2010 once again. By then, the "official" population of the US should be between 310,000,000 and 330,000,000. However, new estimates place the number of uncounted people above 20,000,000- more than the population of Australia. These contribute to an underground economy of almost 2 trillion dollars. The US economy is far bigger than anyone knows. The US population is often lumped with Europe and Japan in the slow or no growth category, but that is far from the case. The transfer of people and power from the old world to the new continues unabated and will go on for centuries to come.

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