China's emergence as a global superpower involves a wide range of different trends in its economy and military forces, many of which are still in a state of uncertain transition. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a book-length report that compares different indicators of these trends drawn from a range of official Chinese, U.S., Japanese, South Korea, Taiwanese, IMF, UN, and other sources, along with work by various think tanks and the media.
As long as the report is, it can only highlight a limited range of views of key trends. Estimates of virtually every trend differ significantly between sources and experts, and sometimes radically so. The trends still show, however, how radically China's economy, technological base, and military forces are developing – along with the importance of its regional and global economic and military ties and outreach.
These key trends are also clear enough to show that China is now a true superpower power with the resources, technology base, and military structure to compare or compete with the U.S. – at least in Asia. While some of the data involved are uncertain, it is still clear that China already has a far more powerful economy than Russia and is spending far more on military forces. Its economic outreach already exceeds that of the United States in a number of aspects, and – if current trends continue – it has the future capacity to equal or surpass the U.S. economy and U.S. military forces at some point during the next two decades.
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