China's Economy Is on Track to Surpass the U.S. by 2035

A new study assesses both commercial and potential military implications.

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As if the U.S. economic slump, the housing crisis, surging oil and food prices, and a general sense that things are not going all that well weren't enough, a new study forecasts that China will become the "pre-eminent world commercial influence" by 2035, when it surpasses the U.S. economy. The study released today is by Albert Keidel, who specializes in China economic issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It is clear that China's economic juggernaut will have far-reaching implications for economic, diplomatic, and military matters in coming years—the subject of Keidel's study titled "China's Economic Rise—Fact and Fiction."

Keidel forecasts that China's economy will double by midcentury, fueled by domestic demand, not exports. Potential stumbling blocks to sustained Chinese growth—export concerns, domestic economic instability, inequality and poverty, pollution, social unrest, or even corruption and slow political reform—are unlikely to undermine China's long-term success, according to the report.

"A Chinese economy that eclipses the U.S. by mid-century has both commercial and potential military implications," the report says. "China will be the preeminent world commercial influence. China's military capabilities are a small fraction of the United States' today, so there is time to prepare for a very different world in fifty years."

—Terry Atlas