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Will China surpass US as world power by 2020?
2006/06/09

China is going to catch up with the United States to become its archrival as a world power over the next 15 years, according to a survey conducted by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation - an astonishing result that has delighted but also worried the Chinese.

The survey, titled "Who will rule the world? - future world powers in the 21st Century", interviewed 10,250 people in 9 countries including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Britain, India, Japan, Russia and the United States between October and December 2005. Some 1,000 to 1,500 interviews were conducted in each of the countries.

The survey result shows that 57% of respondents believed the United States would remain a world power in the year 2020 and 55% believed that China would also become a world power.

According to US media analysis, this suggests that the United States stands to lose its position as the world's leading power by the year 2020 whilst China will emerge as a very powerful rival of the US.

The survey showed the Chinese themselves are quite confident that they will exert influence on a global stage. About 71% of Chinese respondents said China would be a world leader by 2020, compared to 54% of Americans who see China as their contender.

The survey also indicates the American people are not very optimistic about their future with 81% currently viewing the United States as a world power and only 66% believing their country will maintain their position by 2020.

Apart from China, the respondents are also positive about India. Although most respondents said the roles of the European Union and the United Nations would become less important in international affairs by 2020, the US would still be the major force in maintaining world peace and security.

The interviewees also believed that a multi-lateral world may not continue to exist through to 2020; it is quite possible that the United States and China will form gaps with other countries in their overall strength. The 21st century will belong to the Asia Pacific Region.

According to Lin Limin, head of the Strategy Research Center under China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, the survey is somewhat reasonable, it coincides with what a prediction by American investment bank Goldman Sachs that China would overtake the US by around 2040. The statement reflects the world's acknowledgment of China's development in recent years.

However, China has a lot of complications during its development such as the low per capita economic level so that ¡®China still has lots catching up to do', according to Lin.

Researcher, Tao Wenzhao, member of the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out in an interview with the Global Times that the survey is questionable because it is based on opinion polls. Judgments made by the public are not always rational. The view that China is founded on her cheap commodities, rapid economic development and dramatic changes is pure judgment and not scientific fact.

In actual fact, China is the most populated country in the world. Even if her GDP is large the GDP per capital quite small ,which means that China still lags behind developed countries in terms of its economic or military strength.

Though China has been integrating itself into the international community, its soft strength is increasing too, it is still too far for it to be complacent.

China's voice in the world is still weak, its values and culture are not very widespread yet. Though many western people began to yell that China's economy is already on a fast track and regarded China as the fastest developing country, we must be cautious that some are exaggerating China's development, propagating China's threatening and suspecting China's development strategy.

By People's Daily Online