(This Huan Qiu Shi Bao Editorial was carried in the on-line edition in English, the Global Times, as well with the title,“China surpassing US in 2028 is faint praise“. Reproduced below is the English version published on the Global Times website, pending translation of the Chinese original.)
A report published by the UK-based Center for Economics and Business Research on Saturday forecast that China will overtake the US to be the world’s largest economy in 2028. It believes the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues led to a situation favorable to China during the process of China-US competition.
Meanwhile, the Japan Center for Economic Research also made similar predictions on December 10.
Whether the trajectory of GDP growth of China and the US will evolve as British and Japanese think tanks predict remains to be seen. A few years ago, HSBC predicted that China’s GDP could surpass that of the US in as early as 2025. But with China’s economic growth slowing down, people’s expectations changed.
Many Chinese people were vigilant about the faint praise when reading the news that China’s GDP is likely to surpass the US’ in eight years. This is a healthy mind-set. The report by the British think tank seems also to have sounded the alarm in the US and the West that China is rapidly rising, which is inciting the West to act against it.
China’s GDP will overtake that of the US sooner or later. This is similar to the case of India’s GDP, which is set to exceed Japan’s in about a decade. This is the trend of the era. It will affect people’s mind-set when considering which year will be the tipping point. But the comparison of strengths between China and the US and the global geopolitical landscape will not fundamentally change around that tipping point.
No matter whether this tipping point comes or not, China has the ability to safeguard its national security, resist US coercion calmly, and will insist on walking its own path. Even when the tipping point arrives, China will be in a strategically passive position for a long time. The US will continue to woo its allies to contain China, and may even heap more pressure on China.
Especially during the 2020s when China strives to develop its economy, the US is bound to invest a lot of energy into obstructing this process. Jeopardizing China’s development will become an inherent US strategy in the future, which will add to the cost of China’s development.
So first of all, we should not be led by the nose by Western predictions that China’s GDP will surpass the US’ GDP faster than expected. We should not easily believe China’s economic growth will be smooth and underestimate the economic risks. China has a tough road ahead to walk if it wants to transform into a quality-centered economy. For instance, it is never easy to make technological breakthroughs. We should have the courage to face setbacks but remain resolute.
Second, we must stay strategically humble and cautious. Certain elites in the US and the West hope for a “decisive” strategic confrontation between China and the US. China should avoid such confrontations in the next few decades to drag down their machinations. The US system determines that it is hard to harness social mobilization to comprehensively confront another major country. As long as China does not provide any chances for the US, then the latter cannot unilaterally close the door for bilateral cooperation.
As long as China and the US remain peaceful and do not go into a cold war, given China’s development potential, China’s economic development will continue to grow faster than that of the US for a long time in the future. That is what US right-wing elites fear the most.
Even when China’s GDP exceeds that of the US, it cannot fundamentally change the strategic posture between the two. Only when China focuses on doing its own things well and China’s economic volume leaves the US far behind can the country stop the US’ desire to contain China, and make the US and its allies think seriously about how to deal with China.
Such a scenario requires arduous efforts by China, which will not come in the short term – not even within one or two decades.
Let the British think tank play with the prediction that China will overtake the US in terms of its economy in 2028, no matter what its motives are. We should not get lost with meaningless comparisons. We should be firm in every step we take