The Juggernaut

James Fallows points to an affecting example of China's continued impoverishment as reason why "who worry about China as the all-conquering juggernaut that has coped with every internal challenge and is sitting around thinking about how to take over the world" are off-base. And certainly there's something to that. But in other respects it's the still-in-many-ways-bleak reality of contemporary China that makes it seem threatening.

If the PRC is such a juggernaut now what's it going to be like when the average Chinese person is, say, half as rich as the average American? And that China is still going to see itself as a relatively poor country that owes little to the world but is owed much from it. Depending on what kind of things you're inclined to worry about, that can look like a looming environmental catastrophe, a looming national security catastrophe, or probably one of any number of other kind of catastrophes. Of course the flipside is that it's also a great opportunity for a huge number of people to escape grinding poverty. As such it's difficult for me to let my outlook be dominated by worry. But I think I do see what the worriers are worried about.