NEW YORK – The biggest economic news of the year came almost without notice: China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest economy, according to the scorekeepers at the International Monetary Fund. And, while China’s geopolitical status is rising rapidly, alongside its economic might, the US continues to squander its global leadership, owing to the unchecked greed of its political and economic elites and the self-made trap of perpetual war in the Middle East.
According to the IMF, China’s GDP will be $17.6 trillion in 2014, outstripping US output of $17.4 trillion. Of course, because China’s population is more than four times larger, its per capita GDP, at $12,900, is still less than a quarter of the $54,700 recorded in the US, which highlights America’s much higher living standards.
China’s rise is momentous, but it also signifies a return. After all, China has been the world’s most populous country since it became a unified state more than 2,000 years ago, so it makes sense that it would also be the world’s largest economy. And, indeed, the evidence suggests that China was larger (in terms of purchasing power parity) than any other economy in the world until around 1889, when the US eclipsed it. Now, 125 years later, the rankings have reversed again, following decades of rapid economic development in China.
With rising economic power has come growing geopolitical clout. Chinese leaders are feted around the world. Many European countries are looking to China as the key to stronger domestic growth. African leaders view China as their countries’ new indispensable growth partner, particularly in infrastructure and business development.