The Economist predicts China’s GDP will eclipse America’s by 2019. Why? Single-minded ambition is pushing China to the top. In illustrating the drive of China as a nation, it’s useful to compare it to its most populous neighbor, India. India proudly bears the title of the world’s largest democracy, something praised by people around the world. However, in life expectancy, a crucial measure of the health of a population, it ranks 163rd. China is 63 places above it. India’s GDP is less than a quarter of China’s it’s literacy rate still trails far behind. So why does China come out on top in the comparison of these two nations? The answer lies in China’s unrelenting ambition to be the most successful, prominent, and wealthy country in the world.
Whereas India ultimately relies on the cumbersome system of popular agreement, as all democracies must, China’s single party state allows its leaders to unilaterally decide the trajectory of the country. It is not easy to keep a nation of over a billion people satisfied with a government that restricts many basic rights that Americans would consider fundamental. However, the party leaders are incredibly ambitious, and these aspirations have lead to massive projects, huge investment, and modernization at a remarkable rate that have, at least for now, kept the people placated.
As an example, consider the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest power-producing facility. Before its construction, there was opposition on all sides to the project, ranging from the over one million people the central government forced to relocate, to the environment groups concerned that the dam would render extinct the Yangtze river dolphins. Given the c...
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...rtheless, many Americans would much prefer to live there, where every citizen gets to elect the politicians who shape their future. Single-minded ambition to be powerful and rich is admirable, and it has worked quite well for China, but unless the Chinese government takes the time to consider the will of the people, they risk making the same fatal mistake as Macbeth: recklessly accumulating power without considering the consequences and the enemies they may make along the way.
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