William Pfaff is the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history. He also writes a newspaper column, featured in The International Herald Tribune. From Williampfaff.com:
Washington and the European capitals are all preoccupied with China’s economic growth and expanding international influence and activities, taken as evidence that in the not too distant future China will become a “superpower.”
Washington thinks about China’s becoming a military as well as economic superpower. The Europeans think about trade and economic competition. Both underestimate what it takes to become a modern industrial superpower. It requires a very high level of autonomous technological capacity, to begin with, as well as sophisticated and innovative industry to make use of it, both of which China today lacks.
The country is urgently educating the generation of scientists and technicians essential to its future development, but they come back from studies abroad (if they come back; many do not) to an industrial base too limited to put them to proper use. China is a manufacturer of unsophisticated goods designed abroad. Its technology is derivative. Will this continue to be so? Possibly. [Full Text]