“I’ve spent more time with President Xi Jinping of China than any world leader. He firmly believes that China, before the year 2035, is going to own America because autocracies can make quick decisions.” — US President Joe Biden
My great-grandpa grew up in China and we had Chinese boarders growing up — both, weirdly, were named Lin Ding. The second one taught us his family recipes, helped my mom build a Chinese garden, and he took me to visit the fish tanks at the university where he was studying to be an ichthyologist. Ever since I was a boy, China has always been on my radar.
And 71 percent of Americans are worried about a hot war between the United States and China in the next five years, so we seriously need to talk about it.
For those of you who are keeping score like I am, it’s clear that China is absolutely crushing America:
They’re investing heavily in solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and biofuels, creating five times as many eco-jobs versus the US.
They’re crushing us on EVs, with plans for all their cars to be electric by 2035.
They’re thrashing us on quantum security and have already stolen sensitive information about millions of US federal employees and contractors.
They have 23,550 miles of high-speed rail.
They produce 67% of the world’s solar panels (versus America’s 1%.)
They have half as much debt as America (and 22X less external debt.)
They’re slaying us at GDP growth.
They have one-sixth the obesity rate.
They have more university students than the EU and the US combined.
They have a $283.6 billion trade surplus with the States.
They’ve forced their money-grubbing private education institutions to go not-for-profit.
They’re cracking down on monopolies while America’s have metastasized like cancer.
They’re cracking down on social media algorithms and protecting children from digital addiction.
At some point it makes you wonder:
Maybe China deserves to win.
Obviously, China does NOT deserve to win
This is the same Han-centric nation that’s ethnically cleansing and genociding the Uyghur nation.
And oppressing the nation of Taiwan.
And the nation of Hong Kong.
And the nation of Tibet.
And colonizing dozens of African countries.
And debt-trapping the world via their Belt and Road Initiative.
And exporting their surveillance technology to dozens of other dictatorships.
So… they’re basically like America, but with 4.37X more citizens.
But we can still learn from China
It takes a lot of humility to admit that other nations are succeeding where we’re failing or falling behind.
When I visited North Korea, my guide/guard told me that North Korea was the best country in the world in every single category, even though he’d never left his slave state.
I told him that it’s okay for each nation to be the best at something. I told him that Canada has the best waterfalls (Niagara) and mountains (Rockies), but America has the coolest canyon (Grand) and Italian food is far better than Hungarian.
Here are a few of the many things America needs to learn from China:
1. China has an extremely long-term mindset
It’s important to put things in perspective:
America is 245 years old.
China is 3,221.
Is there anyone who thinks the United States will still be united in 2,976 years? (I think it’ll be twelve countries within a century.)
America works on a two-year time scale — election, mid-terms, election, mid-terms. It’s awful, and stupid. China works on a millennia time scale. Within twenty years, China will be a two-billion person nation with the biggest economy in world history. And they’re just on Chapter Four of their story.
2. China invests heavily in success
They invest in their Olympic athletes.
They invest in infrastructure.
They’re investing $1.2 trillion in sixty other countries.
They understand that national success requires national investment.
3. China cares about unity
Culture = gathered and rooted
Individualism = uprooted and scattered
While America is a hyper-individualist anti-culture that’s fracturing everywhere, China is a more communal place, with a higher value on family, community, and nationhood.
Obviously, China isn’t beating America in every category. We still have the most white supremacists, gun-toting preppers, Kardashians, student debt, vampire corporations, and TikTok narcissists.
And we shouldn’t try to join China’s race to the bottom on cheap goods, human rights and freedoms, invasive surveillance, Hollywood censorship, authoritarian governance, dystopian panopticoins, kidnapping Chinese nationals who escape overseas, sentencing Canadians to death, and their horrendous social credit system.
China has its eyes set on becoming the dominant culture globally, but that would leave us with a world that is significantly less free, more surveilled, less creative, and less human.
Sure, they’re winning, but I really hope they don’t win win.
Because might isn’t right.
Never was, never will be.
What America does have going for it is some semblance of goodwill. While America has friends, China only has clients. Unfortunately, the corporations that own the Fed and Congress have leveraged the stars and stripes to run their extraction scams all over the world, building serious resentment and distrust even among our allies.
America needs to clean-slate itself and have a national discussion about what universal bedrock values we want to live by and promote in the world in the centuries ahead. Right now, the only “values” that America is exporting are vapid consumerism and predatory corporatism. No wonder half the world hates America and China is laughing.
But US President Joe Biden put it well:
“America is unique. From all nations in the world, we’re the only nation organized based on an idea — None of you get your rights from your government; you get your rights merely because you’re a child of God. The government is there to protect those God-given rights. No other government has been based on that notion. No one can defeat us except us.”
Sadly, American elites are hell-bent on doing just that.
Remember, friends: Democracy isn’t the natural state of human affairs.
Will nationalism beat individualism?
Will fake democracy best bona fide autocracy?
Will creative culture beat conformist culture?
Will centralization beat disintegration?
Will coercive “unity” best coercive disunity?
Will China and America learn to get along like the Brock family and the Dings, enjoying years of mutual benefit, cultural exchange, and moral growth on both sides, or will they go to war and destroy the world?
These are the questions of our age.