Joel Kotkin debunks the notion that the "golden age of Chinese supremacy" is inevitable:
Throughout modern history authoritarian and more centrally controlled countries have proved very good at playing "catch up" and impressing journalists. China’s Communist regime can order investment into everything from high-speed trains to green technology and massive dam construction. The results — like those previously seen in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia — are often as physically and technologically impressive, although often cruel to both the environment and people stuck in the way. But once a country reaches a certain plateau of development, as Japan did in the 1990s, the nature of the competition changes; it becomes harder to target industries that are themselves in constant flux. Workers who have already achieved considerable affluence tend to be harder to bully or motivate.
(Photo: Men walk on the roof of a building facing skyscrapers in the skyline of the Lujiazui Financial Area in Shanghai, China. By China Photos/Getty Images.)