Is China rising, while U.S. slipping?

10:58, May 18, 2011      

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China will not seek hegemony or engage in expansion, but act very cautiously and focus on solving its domestic problems including the rising wealth gap and environment, observed Tom Engelhardt in an article on the CBS News website earlier this month.

The specter of China as the U.S.' future adversary once again reared its ugly head in the past few months in America, says Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture. "Beware America, time is running out!" warned retired Air Force lieutenant general and Fox News contributor Thomas McInerney while describing China's first experimental stealth jet fighter – J20.

The U.S. military isn't alone in sounding the alarm, says Engelhardt. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that by 2016, the "age of America" will be over and, by one measure at least, the Chinese economy will surpass America's.

Engelhardt says there's no reason to be surprised that the "Chinese threat" began to re-emerge. According to the article, China passed Japan in 2010 as the world's No 2 economy with growth rate at something close to 10% right through the great financial meltdown of 2008, making it the world's fastest expanding major economy. By mid-2010, it had 477,000 millionaires and 64 billionaires (second only to the U.S.). It also had the world's largest car market (the U.S. came in second).

But Engelhardt points out that China has many domestic issues at hand. In addition to maintaining economic growth and avoiding overheating, China has to face the problems of a growing "middle class" and "hundreds of millions of forgotten farmers and migrant workers."

So it is almost inconceivable that "China could or would ever play the role the U.S. played in 1945 as the British Empire went down. It's hard even to imagine China as another Soviet Union in a great global struggle with the United States," Engelhardt wrote.

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