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Reader riposte: Sizing up China and the US

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COMMENTS

18 January 2011 10:51

John Daley from the Grattan Institute responds to Sam's post about China overtaking the US in economic weight:

I think we have more than one example of a great power surpassing another: I don't know whether you have had a chance to read Why the West Rules – For Now, but it is a magnificent romp through 10,000 years of 'great power' history.

However, the book defines the moment of eclipse as the point at which one power has more military fire power/energy use per head/bigger cities than another. Could be a little while before China surpasses the US on these criteria.

And too often forgotten in Western analyses is the impact of demography on Chinese total GDP growth – they are getting a big kicker at the moment as the working population continues to grow, but this goes into shuddering reverse as the one-child policy starts to flow into the numbers in a decade or so.

Below, a lecture by Stanford historian Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules – For Now:

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