Cowering before a sunflower seed

Why China is not a great power

David Rothkopf

There are many measures of a nation’s power. Almost all are deeply flawed. The U.S. Commerce Department team that originally devised the concept of gross domestic product warned it should not be used as a measure of a nation’s true economic health because it was too limited and left too many factors out. Defense spending only partially captures a nation’s military capabilities because other factors — like the political will to use force — are so crucial to the equation. Resources are good to have but can be a curse if a nation grows too complacent about other aspects of their development because of them. Great populations are a potential source of fantastic power if the people are educated and well-employed and share the goals of the government but as we regularly see, that is often not the case.

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