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The Diplomat: China's S-Shaped Threat

Authors: Andrew S. Erickson, and Gabe Collins
September 9, 2011

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Andrew S. Erickson and Gabe Collins suggest the oft-cited threats to America's preeminence—issues from pension costs, to healthcare dilemmas, to military expenditures—may also hinder China's ability to avoid an "S-shaped growth slowdown."

According to the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), ‘China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country.' China is already the world's second largest economy, second largest energy importer, largest natural resource importer by volume, and largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. Indeed, following the S&P downgrading of the US credit rating to AA+, Beijing feels empowered to declare that it ‘has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems.'

However, despite its astute policy navigation, efforts to guide national development, and claims of exceptionalism, China isn't immune to larger patterns of economics and history. And those patterns tell us that China faces costly internal and external challenges that will hinder its ability to avoid the S-Curve-shaped growth slowdown that so many previous great powers have experienced, and that so many observers believe the United States is undergoing today.

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