zhang53_HECTOR RETAMALAFP via Getty Images_chinapeople Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Why China Continues to Rise

The most populous countries are not necessarily the richest today, largely because of migration. But if barriers to migration grow high enough, populous countries will outpace smaller countries in innovation, even if the latter are richer.

SHANGHAI – In just four decades, China’s economy has achieved an unprecedented level of wealth and development, and, until recently, its upward trajectory of economic growth and prosperity seemed set to continue. But as political pressures and the coronavirus push many countries – particularly the United States – to embrace more nationalist policies, the heyday of globalization soon could be replaced by a post-pandemic era shaped by national-security concerns and border controls.

This is not good news for China, which would prefer that the world maintain the economic openness it achieved in recent decades. For that reason, China had been working hard to align its economic and trade activities with international rules and norms. But now it seems that China must prepare for a future characterized by higher trade barriers and restrictions.

To this end, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan makes clear that the country will seek to reduce its dependence on external demand. The “dual-circulation strategy” announced in the plan instead emphasizes reliance on the country’s huge population. China also plans to invest heavily in cutting-edge sectors, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors, and work to achieve self-sufficiency in core technologies.

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