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Is China Overtaking America?

Even if overall Chinese and US GDP reach parity in the 2020’s, as many predict, the two economies might be equal in size but not in composition. And China faces far greater obstacles to sustainable growth and global success than many estimates suggest.

CAMBRIDGE – The twenty-first century is witnessing Asia’s return to what might be considered its historical proportions of the world’s population and economy. In 1800, Asia represented more than half of global population and output. By 1900, it represented only 20% of world output – not because something bad happened in Asia, but rather because the Industrial Revolution had transformed Europe and North America into the world’s workshop.

Asia’s recovery began with Japan, then moved to South Korea and on to Southeast Asia, beginning with Singapore and Malaysia. Now the recovery is focused on China, and increasingly involves India, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the process.

This change, however, is also creating anxieties about shifting power relations among states. In 2010, China passed Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. Indeed, the investment bank Goldman Sachs expects the Chinese economy’s total size to surpass that of the United States by 2027.

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