China and the Future of Democracy
China's growing geostrategic influence, rising soft power, and, above all, continued economic success suggest that other countries will see it as a model to emulate. But will China's power and prosperity really boost the global appeal of its authoritarian model?
LONDON – Will China soon be the world’s leading economic and geopolitical power? Has it achieved this status already, as some suppose? And if the answer to either question is yes, what are the global implications for the future of democracy?
The indicators of China’s rise are clear. China is poised to overtake the United States in terms of aggregate GDP within two decades, although forecasting precisely when depends on what one assumes about the growth rates of the two economies and the exchange rate used to convert renminbi into dollars. China is already the world’s leading trading economy, and its push to internationalize the renminbi has resulted in a growing share of that trade being settled in its own currency, potentially challenging the dollar’s position as the leading global currency.
Moreover, China is pumping foreign investment into economies across Africa and South Asia, obtaining military bases and other geostrategic assets in return from its heavily indebted commercial partners. Its Belt and Road Initiative is further fueling China’s outward investment and deepening its economic links with countries across the Eurasian landmass.
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