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Latest Issue

Beijing’s Dilemmas

January 21, 2022

Ranked by population, the United States is the world’s third largest country, behind China and India. But the gap is greater than the ranking implies. According to Worldometer, as of 2020 China had 1.44 billion people, India 1.38 billion, and the US 331 million.

In other words, by population China is more than four times larger than the US. So is India. Together they represent about 36% of humanity, the US only about 4%. We aren’t in the same league, population-wise.

By standard of living, military power, and many other measures, the US is in a league of its own, too. Our economy is far bigger. Nevertheless, sheer size makes China and India impossible to ignore. And of those two, China has more economic influence for now.

Many analysts project China will soon be larger by GDP than the US—which shouldn’t be so hard with a population four times larger—but it’s not clear to me that China’s seemingly unlimited linear growth will continue three or four more decades. I can remember when the same was said about Japan.

Today we’ll talk about Beijing’s dilemmas and the choices Xi Jinping is making. As you will see, they matter to everyone, everywhere.

Perfect Storm

Two weeks ago I mentioned the Chinese city of Xian was in lockdown due to Omicron cases. That wasn’t quite right; they were still facing the Delta variant at the time. But Omicron is definitely there now. Cases are popping up all over China.

At the rate this new variant spreads, it is not clear the quick, ruthless...

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