Today China’s Shenzhou 11 rocketed off on a space station mission. China has concrete plans to build their own permanent space station by expanding Tiangong 2 over the next few years by adding additional space modules. Tiangong 2 is expected to be fully operational by 2022 [See Note 1].
A pie chart which displays the world’s seven largest economies by nominal GDP depicts the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, India, Brazil, and Canada. If we do not group the EU together as a “single nation” (and with Brexit on the horizon), Chinese is the world’s second largest economy, behind the USA. However, the nominal GDP of China has been growing faster (around 9 percent growth from 2014 to 2016) than the nominal GDP of the US (around 7 percent growth from 2014 to 2016) [See Note 2]. It’s certainly possible the nominal GDP of China could surpass the nominal GDP of the USA in the future. Business Insider has predicted China will be the world’s largest economy by 2031.
The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), also referred to as The War on Terror (WoT), refers to the international military campaign that started after the September 11 attacks on the United States. China is not fighting a GWOT. Therefore, a argument can be made that the future is tilting toward China and tilting away of the US in key areas such as science and technology research.
I never really thought about China in this context until I embarked on a survey of the downstream citations of my 2000 ACM paper Intrusion Detection Systems and Multisensor Data Fusion. During this literature survey I noticed that China has been leading very important research efforts in the field of cyberspace situational awareness. For examples of Chinese research into cyberspace situational awareness, please check out these posts.
When I survey the current state of research in cyberspace situational awareness by the Chinese, in context with China’s advances in space exploration, the shear size of China’s economy, and the fact that China is not engaged in a GWOT, it seems obvious that China is now spending more money on research on development than the US. This seems to point to a future where the world will tilt more and more toward China.
There seems to be no end to the United States GWOT. This will continue to distract and handicap the US for many years to come. China does not have a GWOT problem or a GWOT economic drain. In the current world situation it seems safe to assume that China will have much greater role in the future of our world.
Note 1: “In 2009, NASA had stated plans to end the ISS program and de-orbit the ISS in early 2016. This was in accordance with the then-President Bush’s policy. President Obama announced new policy in 2010, extending the program through 2020.” (Wikipedia – ISS). If the USA does not extend the ISS program and China continues on their space station progress, then China will operate the only Earth orbiting space station by the year 2022.
Note 2: According to Wikipedia, “Comparisons using GDP (PPP) are arguably more useful than nominal GDP when assessing a nation’s domestic market because PPP takes into account the relative cost of local goods, services and inflation rates of the country, rather than using international market exchange rates which may distort the real differences in per capita income.” If we consider PPP versus nominal GDP, then China has been #1 in the world economy for a number of years and will be #1 in 2016 (and into the foreseeable future) as well.