Again today I saw China referred to as an “economic superpower.” I know the media loves superlatives and hyperbole, and I shouldn’t let this bother me. The notion that a country that the IMF ranks behind the poor little Caribbean island of Jamaica in per capita GDP can be called an economic superpower, however, seems ludicrous.
Jamaica ranks 88th with $9,003 in per capita GDP while China ranks 90th with $8,394, according to the IMF. Take a look at the list of countries we usually consider poor that rank ahead of China, and you’ll quickly understand why some still see the People’s Republic of China as merely a third world wannabe.
The mark of greatness for any country surely relates—at least to some extent—to its financial ability to care for its people. China’s population (over 1.3 billion) far exceeds its capacity to properly care for them.
China is certainly making economic progress, but arms and munitions seem more important to it than do its people.
For two decades China has been adding large numbers of warships—including an aircraft carrier—submarines, fighter jets and—more significantly—developing offensive missiles capable of knocking out stealth aircraft and the biggest naval ships including aircraft carriers. Ever increasing portions of its wealth since it turned away from Marxist economic policies in the 1980s, have gone to the People’s Liberation Army.
Since 1989, China’s military spending has increased by nearly 13 per cent annually, according to the Department of Defense 2010 Annual Report to Congress. It now spends well over $100-billion annually on its armed forces—some sources suggest $300-billion. So long as this trend continues, China’s people will remain poor.
And the IMF’s rank (by per capita GDP) of 90th of 181 countries does not seem to me to fit the criteria of “economic superpower.”