Minxin Pei: China’s Not a Superpower

The Diplomat has issued a special report called APAC 2020:

A decade into ‘The Asian Century’ The Diplomat looks back over the past 10 years, and draws on leading commentators and analysts from around the world to look ahead at what the next decade might have in store for the region’s politics, security and culture.

The issue features an article by Minxin Pei on why China will not become a superpower in the near future:

…The challenges China faces in becoming the next superpower are truly daunting. Even as its economic output is expected to exceed $5 trillion in 2010, per capita income in China will remain under $4000, roughly one-tenth of the level of the United States and Japan. More than half of the Chinese population still live in villages, most without access to safe drinking water, basic healthcare, or decent education. With urbanization growing at about 1 percent a year, it will take another three decades for China to reduce the size of its peasantry to a quarter of the population. As long as China has an oversized peasantry, with hundreds of millions of low-income rural residents surviving on the margins of modernity, it is unlikely to become a real superpower.

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