The recession is really damaging to national self confidence: 44% of Americans now believe that China is the world’s leading economic power, as opposed to the 27% who (correctly) believe that it is the United States. Compare those latest Pew poll stats from those from February 2008, when 41% identified the US as the leading nation (with 30% identifying China).
James Fallow of the Atlantic, however, refutes these beliefs with some hard facts — namely that despite China’s awe-inspiring rise, it’s still not a superpower. China still lags in global brands, scientific innovation, and living standards.
Almost no one in the United States is a peasant farmer. Most people in China are. Nearly everyone in America has indoor plumbing. Most people in China don’t. Japan has one-tenth as many people as China, yet its economy is larger — the second largest in the world. America’s is of course largest of all, three times larger than Japan’s and about four times larger than China’s. Name 20 large American corporations that do business worldwide. Without trying, you can probably name 50. Try to name even 10 from China.
Ouch. Harsh, perhaps, but we think Fallow has a point – China is still the place to watch, and may yet become the world’s leading economic power, but it still has some way to go in terms of development. Convincing migrant works that girl babies are good is a step in the right direction.
In other Pew poll news, 5% of Americans believe that certain EU countries are the world’s leading economic power, illuminating the small but dedicated faction of Sweden-philes.