It’s taken two decades, but the demise of the United States as top nation was predicted way back in 2015. Now China is firmly #1 in economic terms, and the west looks decidedly lower-middle class.
The global power shift to the east has been driven partly by demographics, but also by China’s determination to expand its sphere of economic influence, and to co-opt key nations en route. Central to this ambition was the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, which links up dozens of nodes from Guangzhou to Rotterdam in a vast new logistics network.
Since the vision for this new Silk Road was announced in 2016, it has been expanded to involve 68 countries and upgraded for the digital age. Almost all the rail links, seaports and border points are also connected by ultra-fast digital networks, and feature automated tracking and forwarding for global supply chain integration, enhanced with artificial intelligence.
President Xi Jinping’s goal was to pull countries and multinationals into a new economic order dominated by China, and he has succeeded. But the physical and virtual links spanning Asia and Europe have left North America behind.
The United States has been desperately trying to revive the Trans Pacific Partnership, but with so much of China’s funding and development committed to One Belt, only Japan is interested. Although the era of ‘America First’ is long gone, the legacy effects remain a drag on US growth.
Now the heartland of commerce and innovation lies in the rich, abundant markets of east Asia, while the old leaders in the west struggle to emerge from their isolationist slump. China is the new king of the global hill.