China in 2020

A New Type of Superpower

The rapid pace and grand scale of China’s rise have produced a heady mixture of wonder and consternation in the West. Is China on track to become a superpower? What would that mean for the rest of the world? Economist Hu Angang approaches these questions through analysis of three major dimensions of China’s rise: its overall economic and social development; advances in education, science, and technology (including alternative energy); and the likely complications posed by resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and climate change.

After three decades of unprecedented economic growth, China is now home to the world’s second-largest economy. It is the world’s largest exporter and its second-largest consumer of energy (as well as number one in carbon emissions). Extrapolating from these seismic changes, Hu forecasts that by 2020 China will become a “mature, responsible, and attractive superpower” that will contribute, alongside the European Union, to the “end of the unipolar era dominated by the United States.”

China in 2020 presents a native Chinese perspective on the challenges and opportunities that Beijing will face as its global footprint expands. Through a meticulous examination of China’s development trajectory, Hu Angang explains how his nation—as the world’s largest emerging market—will impact global economic growth, foreign direct investment flows, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions. He proposes a comprehensive strategic framework to guide the next stage of China’s rise, seeking to maximize the country’s positive impact on the world and minimize the negative externalities of its meteoric development.

Highlights from China in 2020:

"Professor Hu...is an inexhaustible seeker of data and insight, always oriented toward the future. No Chinese thinker has a better record of predicting the pace and direction of the country's development. When he is certain, he is bold. He is of the school that would prefer to be generally right than precisely wrong. He is probably China's most versatile and pragmatic economist."
from the Foreword by John L. Thornton

"The international community's discourse on the implications of a rising China will increase its sophistication if it pays greater heed to how Chinese intellectuals perceive and debate the responsibilities that China may assume in the future. In particular, the American China-watching community would be much better informed if it were more familiar with the contemporary strategic discourse of the People's Republic of China (PRC)."
from the Introduction by Cheng Li

"China was the beneficiary of the type of timing, geographic location, and popular sentiment necessary for an economic takeoff and eventual ascendancy to superpower status. History is now providing China with the same opportunity to thrive that the United States enjoyed between 1871 and 1913, Japan between 1955 and 1988, and Korea between 1965 and 1996."

"If current development trends continue, one can expect that the day when China overtakes the United States in a variety of respects—not only in economic power but also in human capital and science and technology capacities—is not far off. It is important that as China prepares for this day, it take on more responsibilities and make greater contributions to international society not only in terms of economic development but also in terms of culture, science, technology, and ecology."

"As it moves into the twenty-first century, China must confront two major demographic challenges in addition to improving its per capita income: a declining population of children and a burgeoning elderly population. Unlike the world's developed countries, which typically 'grew rich before growing old,' China is growing old before it grows wealthy."