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 One of the most obvious competitions is between the United States and China. What are China’s relative strengths and weaknesses?

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China does, of course, have a number of strengths and weaknesses.  Some of these are related to economics, some to military power, and some to political stability.  All of these things matter for the outcome of the competition between the US and China.

Economically, China’s biggest strength at this point is its large, relatively skilled, and relatively cheap workforce.  This is the foundation on which China has built its economic growth in the past two decades or so.  China has plenty of educated people who can do things like running factories and working as engineers.  It also has plenty of poorer people who will work for low wages.  China’s biggest economic weakness, in my view, is its lack of innovation and economic dynamism.  China has not proven that it can really innovate and create the sorts of companies that will drive its growth past the “middle income trap.”

Militarily, China’s power is in its vast size.  The fact that it has over a billion people, coupled with its industrial power, gives it a leg up on becoming a regional power at the very least.  However, China does not yet have the technological ability to build its own sophisticated weapons systems.  As an example of this, China did not build its own aircraft carrier but instead bought an old Soviet ship.

Finally, China has strengths and (mainly) weaknesses in terms of political stability.  China does have the ability to do things like censor the Internet and to arrest anyone who does much in the way of dissent.  This allows it to keep the lid on any political unhappiness.  However, it is facing more and more dissatisfaction from the growing middle class, among others.  People are becoming very tired of having few freedoms and having a corrupt (as they see it) government.  This will be a major problem for China in the future.

Thus, China clearly has strengths and weaknesses that will affect its ability to compete with the US.

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