China’s quiet rise is obvious to see in massive increases in its economic, cultural/educational and energy power.
Let’s recap how the last thirty years have gone.
Taking each relevant power app in turn:
Economic power: CHINA HAS RISEN
Between 1991 and 2018, China made the biggest gains in terms of its capital—its economic indicator rose by a massive 12.8 points. It is already the largest economy in the world according to purchasing power parity. Between 2018 and 2020, China’s economic power grew by 18.7% compared to the US’s more modest 4.56%.
Power result: 1-0 to China. The United States has already lost the economic top slot and continues to lose out on policy components to China’s economic growth, ratings strength and vast increase in private wealth.
Military power: AMERICA UNBEATABLE?
In the military sphere (military spending, weapon production, size of the army, etc.) it is the US that comes out on top. Its 2018 result of 31.03 points is more than four times the number of points scores by China—8.21 points. But, in the 2 years since, whilst US military growth posts a 10.69% power increase, China has increased its military potential by a staggering 32%.
Power result: 1-1. The United States maintains its military might but China is rising fast.
Energy power: CHINA WON’T SUFFER
In 2018 China produced the most energy and, at the same time, also meet these needs by itself—the country had 9.69 points in the Energy League. The US was second (7.60 points). Since then the gap has grown. China is up 13% (to 10.22 points) whilst the US rises only 2.97% to 7.69 points. China’s 2005 sorpasso of the US in energy production and trading means that today the US is 25% behind China’s lead.
Power result: 2-1 to China. The US has lost out to the energy powerhouse that is China.
People power: CHINA IS DYING
In terms of the potential generated by the population and its demographics, the most powerful countries in the world in 2018 were China (17.2 points) and India (16.2 points). The USA was on 4.0 points.
Since then, China’s inherent population growth has disguised the fact that between 1991 and 2018 it was the country that aged the most. Overall, China was up 1% and the USA down 1%. One of the most fascinating leagues to watch over the next 10 years will be this one. Despite its massive population, demographic change might weaken China.
Power result: 3-1 to China.
Diplomatic power: XI IS A MAN WITH A PLAN
Diplomatic power rewards countries that have a strong representation from major international structures. China has focussed on getting its people into positions of power in international institutions, increasing its diplomatic footprint and exercising smart power in confrontations with the West.
China has now surpassed the United states diplomatically.
In 2016 the diplomatic think tank, the Lowy Institute ranking the top diplomatic nations:
The USA had a total of 271 diplomatic posts compared to China’s 263. Two years later China has 276 compared to the US’s 273:
Power result: 4-1 to China as the United States loses its diplomatic power to a China increasing its global soft power.
Cultural power: CHINA BRAIN GAIN CONTINUES THREATENING THE US
The most culturally influential country in 2018 was the United States (21.4), with China is on its heels (20.7).
The most important policies in this area are the quality of the educational system and the number of applications a nations has made for intellectual property rights. On education we look at the number of schools a country has on the Shanghai list, which groups the world’s best universities.
The highest number of the best schools in 2018 was the US—137 (in the previous year they had 146 out of top 500 in the world). China is second with 54 universities (the previous year there had 44). As of last year, the US had powered ahead to 206 with China more than doubling its international-quality tertiary sector to 144.
In all, because China is powering ahead educationally and in IP registration, the last two years saw the US decline in the Culture League by 9% and China rise by 24%.
Power result: 5-1 to China.
Land power tips the power balance to China. 6-1 representing a massive power change over the last 30 years. In terms of economic and energy hard power, the US has so far been bested by China. In cultural and diplomatic soft power, China has closed the gap and, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, overtaken the US. Only in military terms does the US remain hegemonic.
The American century is over.
Data foundation thanks to: www.statepowerindex.com. All other data is compiled from the following sources: Bloomberg, WEF, Forbes, OECD, UN, Eurostat, World Bank, WHO, Pew Research, Sipri, CIA, Global Firepower, PWC, Energy Yearbook, WIPO