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China in 2020

A New Type of Superpower

introduction by Cheng Li. foreword by John L. Thornton. Angang Hu

Publication Year: 2011

The rapid pace and grand scale of China's rise have produced a heady mixture of wonder and consternation in the West. Is China on track to become a superpower? What would that mean for the rest of the world? Economist Hu Angang approaches these questions through analysis of three major dimensions of China's rise: its overall economic and social development; advances in education, science, and technology (including alternative energy); and the likely complications posed by resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and climate change.

After three decades of unprecedented economic growth, China is now home to the world's second-largest economy. It is the world's largest exporter and its second-largest consumer of energy (as well as number one in carbon emissions). Extrapolating from these seismic changes, Hu forecasts that by 2020 China will become a "mature, responsible, and attractive superpower" that will contribute, alongside the European Union, to the "end of the unipolar era dominated by the United States."

China in 2020 presents a native Chinese perspective on the challenges and opportunities that Beijing will face as its global footprint expands. Through a meticulous examination of China's development trajectory, Hu Angang explains how his nation —as the world's largest emerging market —will impact global economic growth, foreign direct investment flows, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions. He proposes a comprehensive strategic framework to guide the next stage of China's rise, seeking to maximize the country's positive impact on the world and minimize the negative externalities of its meteoric development.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Series: The Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series

Front Cover

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Copyright Information

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Foreword by John L. Thornton

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pp. vii-ix

We began the Chinese Thinkers Series to expose those outside China, especially the English-language audience, to the depth, complexity, and richness of the intellectual discussion occurring within China today. The first volume of the series, Democracy Is a Good Thing, introduced the works of the political theorist Yu Keping. The present book collects the forceful ideas of my fellow Tsinghua University faculty member Hu Angang, whose ...


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pp. xi-xiii

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Introduction by Cheng Li

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pp. xv-xl

China perplexes the world. The country’s rapid rise to global economic power poses an important set of questions regarding how one should perceive the transformation of the international system in light of this epochal change: ...

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1. China, an Emerging Superpower

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pp. 1-22

One of the great events of the past three decades has been the rapid rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China’s quick ascent into the ranks of great powers not only outstripped the expectations of the international community but has also far surpassed the Chinese government’s own expectations.1 If calculated using official constant prices...

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2. Economic Development: Past, Present, and Future

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pp. 23-46

The rise of China has become a hot topic of discussion across the globe. China’s huge population and labor force have ensured that its economic development evolves differently from the experience of other countries. At present there are four nations with a labor force in excess of 100 million people: China (786 million), India (448 million), the United States (157 million), and Indonesia (111 million).1 In only two countries does the number of..

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3. Demographic Challenges: An Aging Society and Rapid Urbanization

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pp. 47-64

In addition to being the most populous country in the world, China is an underdeveloped country that began the process of industrialization late, started from a low level of economic development, and features a transitioning population. When the People’s Republic was founded in 1949 its population statistics were typical of countries at its level of development: high birthrates, high mortality...

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4. A Healthy China: Progress and Problems

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pp. 65-81

Health is the foundation of personal happiness, and a country's public health is often a major determinant of its rise or fall. The pursuit of a healthy life is a timeless universal value. Modern China was once labeled the sick man of East Asia, subject as it was to national subjugation and mass violence. After the founding of the PRC, however, the health level of Chinese citizens improved greatly, with the mean life expectancy of both men and ...

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5. Education and Human Resources

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pp. 82-94

Education is fundamental for developing human resources and promoting the all-around development of a people. It is the cornerstone of national development and a fundamental pillar of the reinvigoration of the Chinese nation. Indeed, differences across nations in technological level and speed of economic development are chiefly the result of differences in educational levels. "Formal schooling fosters attributes in a population that are ...

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6. Science, Technology, and Innovation

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pp. 95-120

Today’s China is much different from China circa 1978. The country’s rapid reemergence and renaissance has propelled the PRC into a new era. Several centuries ago the European renaissance was ushered in by a proliferation of science and culture. The use of printing technology to spread ideas and knowledge led to social change, urbanization, globalization, technical revolution, and eventually the Industrial Revolution. The same can be said of China’s modern renaissance, ...

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7. Climate Change and Sustainable Growth

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pp. 121-139

Global climate change is the largest constraint on and challenge to the future of Chinese economic and social development. The rise of China has already changed the international order. Such a seismic shift in global power has brought about two grave challenges, which will have to be faced by both China and the world at large. The first lies in China

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8. Assessing China's Development Goals and Grand Strategy

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pp. 140-162

This decade (2011–20) will be a crucial period for realizing the goals of the third stage—the first fifty years of the twenty-first century— of China’s socialist modernization strategy. This represents the final stage of Deng Xiaoping’s three-step strategy proposed in 1978:...


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pp. 163-193

Further Reading: The Writings of Hu Angang, 1989-2011

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pp. 195-199


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pp. 201-213

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815704799
E-ISBN-10: 0815704798

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The Thornton Center Chinese Thinkers Series
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 712782527
MUSE Marc Record: Download for China in 2020

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • China -- Economic conditions -- 2000-.
  • China -- Social conditions -- 2000-.
  • Health status indicators -- China.
  • Environmental indicators -- China.
  • Science indicators -- China.
  • Technology indicators -- China.
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