How do the United States and China compare? The superpowers face off in this ambitious, if flawed, infographic from the Guardian.
The infographic compares the nations on everything from GDP and unemployment to literacy rates and military expenditures. Determining the greatest superpower is, of course, dependent on how you define superpower. If it's GDP per capita, social media, and gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, the United States appears to win. If it's GDP growth and exports, China wins.
But the chart has its flaws. Take social media. The Guardian judges social media reach by Facebook penetration. Facebook is blocked in China; the residual fraction of Facebook's users listed are likely in a territory with special privileges, like Hong Kong. But not having Facebook doesn't mean China lacks social media: Weibo.com is a major site in China, with more users than the entire American population.
Top Brand is another confusing category, and it obscures more than it reveals. Apple, the United States's top brand, has major manufacturing operations in China, whose low labor costs no doubt contribute to Apple's perpetually high profits.
The Guardian's accompanying feature on the chart asks if comparing the two superpowers is really possible. Comparisons are inevitable, so it's curious that this infographic presents the information so strangely, leaving as much unanswered as it clarifies.
I have to disagree with the Guardian, comparisons are possible. China compares favorably with all the rising superpowers of the past, doesn't it?
Lots of farmland (nope)
Plenty of water (what little they have is polluted)
Massive energy reserves (uh, uh)
A common spoken language (over 250 languages and dialects in China and counting)
A unifying religion (Every religion but no official religion to knit them together)
Freedom of speech, association, procreation (Tienamen Square, restrictions on travel, one child policy)
Confidence in their government (military police state/ complete censorship)
The rule of law (rules for some, corruption for everybody else)
Optimism: How do you build an empire and convince everyone that things are getting better when they remember when they didn't have to breath filth in the air, eat corrupted foods, or see the rivers choked with sewage and dead animals?
Most critical of all for a rising superpower is a belief in the system: The "Century of China" slogan, which was just a rehash of the "manifest destiny" slogan, has turned into a nightmare for millions of slaves with representation in government, no jobs, and no hope of a girlfiend because they were all aborted under the One Child policy.
Rage. How do you build a society that is filled with resentment and outrage at the indignity and unfairness of the system?
How could a country that grew rich selling cheap things to what are now bankrupt overseas customers go wrong with all this going for it?
China's exports are surprisingly not that much more than the US. Yet China has $214bn compared to US $-487bn.
The US needs to fire it's financial advisers.
Smiddywesson you seem to think that a superpower needs to be powered by cheerful contented people.
Slaves,resentment,outrage,indignity,unfairness? Sounds like the experience of the African slaves that built the U.S.A, and the Natives Americans who were slaughtered and their land stolen.
So yes, comparisons are possible.
Good point KillerT, but also irrelevant to my post. Were those groups every fully accepted into the common ideology of the overall society or were their members feel marginalized? If marginalized, are'nt we mixing apples and organges in discussing what makes a society rot at it's very core?
The core members of a society on the rise typically goes through a cycle described in The Fourth Turning: four generations labeled: High; Awakening; Unraveling; and Crisis. The Chinese seem to have gone through the whole cycle in less than one generation. Without the physical resources to support a superpower, and without that common vision, they won't get there.
@KillerT You think Africans and native Americans are the only people who suffered to see America become a superpower? Because that would be racist, untrue, and in complete disregard for all the men and women - white or otherwise - who fought and died for your right to b**** about it. Slavery is wrong, yes, and Africans, Asians, and Europeans were all practicing it well before they met each other. But that is ancient history and the generation of today has its own horrendous sins to account for, as a member of this generation you should focus on your own people's crimes.
The story of the Native Americans is the same story told by the Gauls, the Greeks, the Israelite tribes, and every other nation that faced the expansion of another and lost. Does that make the Romans, the Normans, or the Macedonians any better or worse? Colonials engaged in politics and wars with the native Americans and won out, 100 years later they fought side-by-side against the Axis powers in World War 2. Don't dwell too much on it.
On Topic: I find this infograph very intriguing. Americans enjoy a much higher standard of living despite less carbon emissions and pollution, and the worlds largest debt. I didn't know that China had the worlds largest surplus either. That is interesting.
Very good points, NoOne and Smiddy. Also, pound for pound, Americans generate more money and trade, and with more creativity (movie industry), than China for sure. This info graphic definitely points to horrible leadership. What this infographic doesn't show is that Chinese save, on average, around 34% of their annual income. Americans save around 10% or less. Of course, our economy also pushes 15 trillion a year, so we know where that money goes, regardless of our debt. Poor leadership in a such a strong country. Let's kick out our entire corrupt government and start leading by example. We need a game changer next election.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
All I saw was "Facebook Penetration".
If it's a graph on "who's more powerful" it should be employment rate, not unemployment rate.
I'm a little confused about why the seem to hide raw numbers like GDP behind percent statistics or total military spending vs military spending as a percent of GDP (both of which aren't very usefull in comparing military power) also the US has a 400 billion dollar deficit, not debt. The debt is around 15 trillion.
When your doing a power comparison using these percents don't make sense. I'm going to use an example and this is for emphasis I'm not using it as a metaphor for the china vs united states comparison. You could say an Ant can lift 5000% of its weight on average whereas a human only lifts 150% of their weight on average, but that clearly doesn't mean an ant is more powerful then a human. The only valid comparison is using a raw number like an ant can lift .5 oz and a human can lift 300 lbs.
Now that said the US GDP is 14.99 trillion and China's GDP is 7.318 Trillion and the US's military spending is around 400 billion vs China's 100 billion.
Additionally and this a personal comment. What is China doing with all that extra cash? If my government was taxing me and then hoarding money in a vault somewhere I would be pretty annoyed. They should either increase spending or lower taxes. It is also taking money out of the economy and acting as a drag on the economy. Seems like bad economics to me. As long as the US is getting enough Economic activity out of spending to cancel out the interest rates on the debt than they should continue to spend away.
Only 92% of American citizens are literate?! Am I the only one that is a bit shocked that nearly a tenth of my country's population in illiterate? Any clarification as to how this is possible with public schools?
ABF-American was at 99% literate rate.
History shows that the only thing that matters in terms of a society's prosperity is a stable and equitable political culture. The US had this environment for most of its history, but is quickly losing it. China has never had such an environment. Consider the huge disparity in per-capita GDP between the US and China. Also think about the fact that tens-of-thousands of Chinese emigrate to the US every year, yet virtually no Americans ever emigrate to China.
@ riff raff.
I think your comment is very good. If the US opened their borders they could have 85% of all the
Chinese there. Plus of course 90 % of all South Americans, 99% of the Africans and even a considerable number of Europeans. No, not me, I hate crowds.
For all those who have no memory. I am certain that the average Chinese person is pretty much like the average person anywhere. Unfortunately the current regime of China was essentially created by Mao the Monster. A creature whom one could not believe if he said the Sun was up at noon. As for these statistics! No one believes (nor should they) the statistics from free, democratic countries. Why would we believe the completely random numbers issued by the current Chinese Ministry of Truth? The forty, delusional, megalomaniacs who control China (temporarily) are almost all minor demons nurtured in deception and cruelty by the arch fiend, Mao. If you cannot trust the free world bankers, who claim to represent truth and freedom, how can anyone believe the drivel propaganda Mao minions spout?
Fortunately the Earth is changing in ways that the politicians and their systems cannot even see, much less affect.
Peace Love Revolution
Not necessarily in that order