The Future of China's Rise: How China's Economic Growth Will Shift the Sino-U.S. Balance of Power, 2010–2040


  • The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and the U.S. government.


The current debate over China's rise and the future of international primacy is polarized between two prevalent views: one foresees China becoming the world's largest economy and taking over the position of international primacy from the United States, whereas the other believes that the Chinese economy will falter as a result of structural imbalances and China will not become a superpower. Both predictions miss the mark. This study argues that notwithstanding the political will to rebalance the economy, China will continue to follow an investment-intensive growth path, and despite the structural imbalances, this path will still be able to lead to Chinese economic primacy. But sheer economic size is not a good indicator of hard power. Using an organic combination of wealth and productivity as an indicator of hard power, the article shows how close the power competition between China and the United States will likely be and that Beijing may not be able to surpass Washington as a superpower.