“China Isn’t All That and a Bag of Chips”

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 4, 2011

Via Dan Drezner, we have a very good article by, um, Dan Drezner, that gives us a reality check in the era of waxing eloquent/despondent/resigned about the supposed America-eclipsing, unstoppable rise of China to superpower status. In his blog post, Professor Drezner excerpted his favorite part of his article. Here is mine:

It’s time to make a few things clear. If one measures power strictly according to GDP at market exchange rates, then the United States is roughly 250 percent more powerful than China. If one uses a combination of metrics — as does, for example, the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s 2025 project — then China possesses a little less than half of America’s relative power. Even on the financial side, the U.S. still reigns, and, hype notwithstanding, the dollar is not going anywhere as the world’s reserve currency. The renminbi could be an alternative in the far future — but after the 2008 financial crisis, China is loath to open up its capital markets. Even by the less tangible metrics of soft power, the United States still outperforms China handily in new public opinion surveys from the Pacific Rim by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Right now, the United States is vastly more powerful than the People’s Republic of China. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something.

The ability to craft and implement an intelligent foreign policy depends on being able to tell information from misinformation. It would be nice if we stopped misinforming ourselves about China’s position in the world vis-à-vis the United States; only then will we be able to have ourselves a smart and robust China policy.

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