China’s Rise Is Not As Unexpected as I’ve Long Thought

Eight reasons to be scared of China’s future

As a senior reporter for the New York Times, I have covered Asia for decades, having seen it grow from a backwater with few economies to a rising world power with a population roughly the size of the U.S. economy. My reporting on China has often focused on the threat that the country’s leaders pose to stability. But this year’s news that China has passed the United States in terms of overall global economic size has made me wonder whether China’s rise is as inevitable as I have long thought.

After all, I began my career in Asia working for the New York Times, where I worked for 32 years, including the period when China surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest economy.

But since coming to the Times in 2005, I have come to see the future of China that many inside and outside the country envision as far more sinister.

After all, China and its leaders have, over the past 15 years, embarked on a series of policies that seem to be designed to grow the country’s economy while weakening the Communist Party’s grip on power.

In the process, they are becoming ever less likely to be stopped.

To be sure, China has many advantages over the United States. Its gross domestic product is a quarter of America’s. It is the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economy.

China also has a huge and growing population. Its urbanization rate of more than 11 percent is second only to India. Most of its people live in cities.

Yet the country is also young and increasingly wealthy. It is still a minority as many people in China speak little or no English, but it is catching up fast and by 2025 could be the world’s second-largest economy. The Chinese Communist Party has no plans to change that.

And China has begun to open up, opening its markets more and more slowly, and by doing so, putting a growing number of foreign companies on its domestic market — to China’s disadvantage.

There is little reason to believe that the Chinese government will

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