Why China’s rise is manageable
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As we have argued in the first essay in our series, the growth of Chinese power poses serious challenges to Indian territorial integrity, to the autonomy of India's domestic politics and intellectual property and to India's free access to the seas, to space and to the global economy. Reasoning solely from past trends, something close to resignation, if not despair, may set in — surely the balance of power will only get worse, absent discontinuous change in China, such as the collapse of one-party rule. Our central contention in this piece is that for several reasons this pessimism is unwarranted. There are important long-term trends in operation over the next decades that, together with India's enduring advantages, will work in its favour. Indeed, if India plays its cards right the present time will turn out to be the high water mark of Chinese power, and India's China problem will become increasingly manageable going forward. Let us turn to these long-term trends and enduring Indian strengths.
The first favourable trend for India is demographic. China shifted abruptly to lower rates of reproduction favouring men 30 years ago, following decades of rapid population growth. Millions of men and women who would be reaching the prime of their lives today were not born, and that dearth will persist. Their parents, however, are present in large numbers, and are reaching old age. The number of working age people available to support old people, either by means of traditional family structures or by government programmes supported by taxes, is going down. It is no wonder that Chinese workers save so much. It should also be no surprise that the Chinese labour force will shrink and that internal consumer demand will be limited. The supply of young Chinese people in rural areas who can move into manufacturing jobs to fuel economic growth has been depleted. India faces no such demographic crunches. If it can educate its young people, it will have a young, productive and growing labour force that will contribute to a high rate of economic growth.
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