The economy of the People’s Republic of China has been growing much faster than that of the United States for decades. So too has China’s average real wage. China is now the world’s second superpower, catching up to the United States economically if not (yet) militarily. Its political influence grew alongside its GDP. Where once the chief scapegoat for the U.S. was the USSR/Russia, China has replaced the latter in that position. The global tourist industry courts Chinese big spenders.
China’s technical advances continue to amaze and impress most of the world.
The basic story here replicates in large part the story of the United States and the British Empire. The United States was once a mere colony, humiliated as well as economically abused by its colonizer. China suffered similarly at the hands of its colonizing abusers, although it was able to avoid formal colonial status, except for some enclaves. Resentment and bitterness accumulated in the American revolutionary break from its colonial status in the late 18th century. The same happened in China in the middle of the 20th. In the War of 1812, the new United States proved that the British Empire could not undo the American Revolution. In the Korean War, the new People’s Republic of China proved that the U.S. empire could not undo the Chinese Revolution.
Independence unleashed rapid economic growth in the United States, which caught up to and overtook its colonizer economically across the 19th century. World War I marked the reversal of roles between the United States and the UK. On many levels—political and cultural as well as economic—the dominator and the dominated changed places. Across the 20th century, the United States displaced (and itself replaced) the British and other European empires to become the global hegemon. After stumbling badly in the Great Depression, it responded with the New Deal’s burst of social democracy. On that basis, the United States undertook to make the rest of the world copy what it labeled a “people’s” or a “welfare” capitalism that represented the epitome of human development. By the beginning of the 21st century, critics labeled UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as “America’s poodle” for his slavish subordination to the George W. Bush regime in the United States.