While IR experts marvel at China’s growth, the PRC’s own elites take a more sober view.
The Rise of China is over.
Note, by the way, that in saying the rise of China is over, I am not saying that China is on the verge of a collapse—I am not even certain what a collapse would look like. There are many people outside of China, portentously predicting a collapse, who evidently have in mind something like the disintegration of the Soviet Union—which, given the multiethnic, empire-like nature of the PRC, one could never rule out completely. But after poring over interviews, books, “internal circulation only” (neibu) policy analyses, and open source journals concerning what Chinese elites think the future holds, I found no suggestion that anyone of influence in the PRC expects a collapse—they do however, express anxiety over an impending “leveling off”.
Note, by the way, that in saying the rise of China is over, I am not saying that China is on the verge of a collapse.
Plateaus, while admittedly not as sensational as doomsday predictions, are nonetheless important in the case of China and its heretofore-meteoric ascension on the world stage. So great is China’s economic clout and attendant global power that an end to the rise would be big enough. It would be “ginormous,” as they say in the business and economics media. And while external specialists have cleaved to the narrative of China as being on a nonstop trajectory of sensational growth and expanding influence, government and business leaders within the PRC today take a much more sober view, challenging the dominant narrative of China as the ever-rising power. According to them, the end of the rise of China may well be in sight; the most important remaining question is how all of the key players, inside and outside of China, will adapt to this awesome, world-historical change.