For the first time since establishing itself as a world super power following World War I, the United States appears like it may be losing its footing. The prosperous nation’s economy is tanking. Thousands of Americans are jobless, with houses being foreclosed left and right. Americans have little confidence in their beleaguered government, which is in serious debt. There is little consensus amongst politicians or citizens regarding important issues, which has led to great party-based divisions in the country. The country is fighting a losing battle in the Middle East, and has been at war continuously since World War II.
To top it all off, there is a new threat to the country’s supposed supremacy: China. The communist nation has made a tremendous effort to become an industrial power, and is able to do things the U.S. cannot. Because of the government’s power, immense projects are completed swiftly and without bickering. As a result, the country’s infrastructure is rapidly expanding, with new highway and railway projects being undertaken and completed with mind-blowing efficiency.
The country’s billion plus citizens are becoming better educated, and will soon have more college graduates than the United States has residents. The country now boasts a 90% literacy rate to the U.S.’ 86%, and is beginning to make vast technological strides. Things are certainly looking up in the Far East.
But is China ready to overtake the United States as the world’s lone super power, as so many analysts predict and many Americans fear?
Essentially, not yet. And most likely not anytime soon. What is most threatening about China is its sheer number of people who will soon earn college degrees, and are currently passing American students in math and science. A 2009 Time Magazine article, “Five Things the U.S. Can Learn from China,” claims that 37% of American 10th-graders in 2002 spent 10 hours or more a week on homework. The average Chinese student did double that work.
However, course load does not necessarily make for a better education. The Chinese education system is based on rote memorization, and as a result American students are much more creative, though the Chinese are catching up. Additionally, the Chinese education system is woefully corrupt, a societal problem that extends to its bureaucratic government as well.
China is rapidly building its infrastructure at heights unseen in the modern world, but is doing so at tremendous cost, both to the environment and its people. The government’s disregard for the environment in the name of furthering industry is truly worrisome, and is problematic for the burgeoning country. Its projects also have held little regard for its people, such as when the government displaced tens of thousands of people to build a dam in Hubei province.
The government, while furthering certain industries, stifles others. A recent New York Times article about the country’s television industry points out several instances of censorship that ended in the cancelation of popular shows, and while advertising money is spent at higher percentages on television than in the U.S., the monetary equivalent is inferior. China still has yet to embrace the internet for commerce purposes, mostly due to a determination to regulate it, particularly by banning searches and sites like Facebook and YouTube.
For all its promise, China is still very much a poor, developing nation. For all its college graduates, there are still many factory workers living off mere dollars a day and rural citizens living off less. The United States’ claim to supremacy is certainly weakening and points to many areas of concern for the country, but China still has a long, bumpy road to travel before it can truly claim the title of world super power.
*The post is written by – Edward Stern
About the author: Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on Guide to Online Schools for the Guide to Online Schools.