查看: 1015|回复: 0

2021.08.30 裴敏欣谈中国不会超越美国的原因

发表于 2022-9-7 22:53:17 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

马上注册 与译者交流

您需要 登录 才可以下载或查看,没有帐号?立即注册

The future of American power
Minxin Pei on why China will not surpass the United States
China will continue its rapid growth for a time, but it faces big obstacles—not least its ageing population and the stifling rule of the current regime

Aug 30th 2021



By Minxin Pei

This By-invitation commentary is part of a series by global thinkers on the future of American power—examining the forces shaping the country’s global standing. Read more here.

AMERICA’S CHAOTIC exit from Afghanistan must be seen by Chinese leaders as the latest proof of its irreversible decline. But their euphoria will be short-lived. As consummate realists, they know that President Joe Biden is taking the United States out of the “grave of empires” so that he can conserve America’s power to prevail against China in the next chapter of their contest for global supremacy.

In its essence, the United States-China “strategic competition” is less a confrontation between duelling ideologies than a familiar clash between a hegemonic power and its challenger. It seems reasonable to bet that although China will continue to narrow the gap in most dimensions of power in the coming two decades, it will ultimately fail to surpass America. This may elicit a sigh of relief in some quarters of Washington. But a China that has reached near-parity will nevertheless be a formidable geopolitical adversary.

America has adopted a strategy to thwart China’s rise. Framed as “economic decoupling”, this has featured a trade war to force global supply chains to relocate out of China and a tech war to choke off the flow of critical technologies and know-how to China. Few should doubt the efficacy of these measures—just witness how quickly American sanctions have crippled Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that used to be the leader in 5G technology. But on its own this strategy will only slow down, not stop, China’s advance.

China still has relatively strong economic momentum in the coming decade. Its GDP is about 70% of America’s at market exchange rates (and is already larger than America’s at purchasing-power parity). Yet Chinese income per person, at slightly over $10,000 a year, is about one-sixth of Americans’ standard of living. This implies that China has a lot more room to grow, thanks to its huge internal market, its dynamic private sector and its vast pool of workers.

China will also make substantial, albeit slower, progress in the tech sector, despite American restrictions. Beijing has vowed to make huge investments in science and technology to reduce its vulnerability. To be sure, President Xi Jinping is unlikely to realise his ambition of full technological self-sufficiency. However, with millions of well-trained scientists and talented engineers, and trillions of dollars in R&D investment in the coming decade, China should be able to gain greater technological capabilities.

Even if China surpasses the United States as the world’s largest economy at market exchange rates in the next fifteen years (assuming its annual growth averages 4.75% compared with 2% for America) its GDP per person will still be about one-fourth that of America. A country four times as rich as its closest geopolitical foe has, in effect, more spare cash to invest in military forces and R&D. It should have the means to stay ahead of the game, assuming that American leaders can muster the necessary political will and unity.

What is more, China is ageing faster than America. The UN projects that in 2040 the median age in China will be 46.3 years, compared with 41.6 for the United States. As a result, China’s growth is expected to slow down significantly in the 2030s.

In other areas of power, America’s lead will prove insurmountable. It will continue to have the world’s best research universities, most innovative technology firms and most efficient financial markets.

Ironically, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be China’s biggest obstacle in its race with America. The party’s existential fear of losing control will impel it to maintain a tight grip on the economy, making it less efficient. Giant but ossified state-owned enterprises will continue to waste resources. The CCP’s arbitrary exercise of power—as exemplified by its sweeping crackdown on China’s most successful tech companies, such as Didi and Alibaba—will stifle the innovation and growth of its tech sector more effectively than America’s sanctions. Most alarmingly, as China descends further into personalistic rule, it will be less able to correct or reverse the questionable decisions made by its top leadership.

Factor in the capabilities of America’s allies, and the balance of power tilts further in America’s favour. Whereas China has no real allies, America is blessed with many. And whereas the United States has no big rivals in its region, China must contend with several powerful adversaries, notably India and Japan, in its immediate neighbourhood. China is far weaker than most people realise.

A China that fails to reach parity with America, let alone surpass it, should not be a cause for celebration in Washington. In fifteen to twenty years, China will have a much bigger economy, more advanced technology and more capable armed forces. It will also remain America’s most formidable rival, and will be able to constrain the exercise of American power globally. The United States will have to devote most of its attention, energy and resources to contesting Chinese power, at the expense of its interests elsewhere.

In short, China should be able to narrow the gap with America in the 2020s, but its growth will probably slow down in the 2030s, and the prospect of China overtaking America will look increasingly dim. If this is the case, the coming decade might be the most volatile because China’s continuing ascent might make its leaders more reckless and Washington less secure.

In fact, a strategic stalemate seems the likeliest outcome. However unsatisfying, this will be a net improvement upon the status quo. Instead of spiralling dangerously out of control, bilateral relations will probably settle at an equilibrium with lower military tensions and far less diplomatic vitriol. America’s security alliance in Asia will remain largely intact, thus preventing China from achieving regional hegemony or absorbing Taiwan. Through arms control and renewed diplomatic engagement reminiscent of the US-Soviet détente, both countries may be able to agree on a set of rules confining their rivalry to a small number of realms unlikely to trigger a full-fledged conflict.

This is not exactly the scenario hoped for by strategists wishing to repeat America’s victory over the Soviet Union in the cold war. Nor is it the “great rejuvenation” President Xi Jinping has in mind. But even without turning China into the world’s most powerful country, the Chinese Communist Party will still be a winner: unlike its defunct Soviet cousin, the CCP will remain solidly in control of a superpower that the Americans fail to vanquish.


Minxin Pei is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California.





美国从阿富汗的混乱退出必须被中国领导人看作是其不可逆转的衰落的最新证明。但是他们的欣喜若狂将是短暂的。作为完美的现实主义者,他们知道乔-拜登总统正在把美国带出 "帝国的坟墓",这样他就可以保存美国的力量,在他们争夺全球霸权的下一章中战胜中国。

就其本质而言,美中 "战略竞争 "与其说是意识形态的对决,不如说是一个霸权国家与其挑战者之间熟悉的冲突。似乎有理由打赌,尽管中国在未来20年将继续缩小在大多数权力方面的差距,但它最终将无法超越美国。这可能会让华盛顿的一些人松一口气。但一个已经达到近乎平等的中国仍将是一个强大的地缘政治对手。

美国已经采取了一项战略来挫败中国的崛起。这被称为 "经济脱钩",其特点是通过贸易战迫使全球供应链迁出中国,并通过技术战扼制关键技术和知识流向中国。几乎没有人应该怀疑这些措施的效力--只要看到美国的制裁是如何迅速削弱华为的,这家中国电信巨头曾经是5G技术的领导者。但就其本身而言,这一战略只会减缓而非阻止中国的进步。











这并不完全是希望重复美国在冷战中战胜苏联的战略家所希望的情景。它也不是习近平主席心目中的 "伟大复兴"。但是,即使没有把中国变成世界上最强大的国家,中国共产党仍将是一个赢家:与它已倒闭的苏联表哥不同,中国共产党将继续稳固地控制一个美国人未能征服的超级大国。


您需要登录后才可以回帖 登录 | 立即注册


QQ|小黑屋|手机版|网站地图|关于我们|七月天| ECO中文网 ( 京ICP备06039041号  

GMT+8, 2022-12-1 22:40 , Processed in 0.071033 second(s), 20 queries .

Powered by Discuz! X3.3

© 2001-2017 Comsenz Inc.

快速回复 返回顶部 返回列表