ISBN: 978-1-324-02130-8

John Mueller

Ohio State University & Cato Institute

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This book argues that China is on a 'precipice of severe stagnation' due to 'surging debt, declining productivity, rapid aging, foreign protectionism, environmental degradation'. However, it also suggests that this won't really bite for about a decade, and in the meantime the United States will enter a 'danger zone' because, as decline looms, China will be tempted to lash out militarily as some declining countries have in the past. As with other alarmist promulgations about China, this one can be a bit slippery about the 'threat'. Some of it is economic as China seeks to establish something of a 'high-tech economic empire', evades international rules, and harnesses data. However, its ability to do so will presumably eventually decline as its economy stagnates. From a military or geopolitical perspective, the book is alarmed about China's desires to take over Taiwan (gaining 20 million intensely hostile new citizens), to exert control over the seas around it, and to 'grab regional primacy as a springboard to global power'. Even taken together, these goals scarcely suggest a threat that is Hitlerian. Moreover, the book supplies extensive evidence that by applying economic pressure and engaging in 'wolf warrior' belligerence, China's efforts at the last two goals have mainly generated hostility and severely undercut its 'influence'. As for the military conquest of Taiwan, the book argues that this monumental task would 'most likely' require decline-prone China to outdo Pearl Harbor by raining 'thousands' of missiles not only on Taiwan but on American military bases and ships in Japan and Guam.