Ray Dalio shared this graph yesterday on his socials and it is interesting to note the change in powers of the four countries.
What I find fascinating is that China used to be a world superpower in the 1500s.
Basically what they are doing now with their ascendance in the 2000s is to reclaim what they used to be.
After the opium wars [1839 – 1842] and the century of humiliation [1839 – 1949], China was a shadow of it’s former self. When World War 2 started in 1939, China had already lost its superpower status.
How did they rebuild?
After the disastrous Cultural Revolution, China started to open to the world in 1978, largely due to the role played by Deng Xiaoping
Deng has famously said:
“No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat.”
I found this extract from the 2018 article titled: China’s 40 years of economic reform that opened the country up and turned it into a superpower, insightful:
“One of the critical elements of that has been experimentation — so they start with something small, learned from that pilot program, and might have multiple iterations of the same pilot program all throughout the country,” he said.
“They take the stuff that works and scale it up. And the stuff that doesn’t work, they stop doing.”
That really sets China apart from other countries which often don’t do this kind of evaluation of policies. China has continued to do this, and it’s been enormously successful.”
This really stood out for me: “They take the stuff that works and scale it up. And the stuff that doesn’t work, they stop doing.”
I hope the world does not experience what Graham Alison calls the Thucydides’s Trap.
Thucydides’s Trap is a world used to describe an apparent tendency towards war when an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power as a regional or international hegemon.
In the absence of the Thucydides’s Trap, it will be interesting to see how the world will be like when a superpower is not for the West but from the East.
I’m looking forward to the book.
“No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat.” 🙂
PS: The Cultural Revolution, was a period in china where intellectuals and capitalists were publicly humiliated and shunned. The term Clever Blacks prominently used between 2009 to 2018 has to be South Africa’s mild version of China’s Cultural Revolution.