This evening I attended my local library’s International Series presentation “China in 2025: a Country More Powerful than the USA?” with Loïc Tassé, Political Scientist and Sinologist at the University of Montreal.

Mr. Tassé discussed his views on a simply phrased question: “Will China become a more powerful country than the United States by 2025?”

He suggested that there were three types of superpower status, (1) economic, (2) scientific, and (3) military, and that evidence suggests that China is on pace to meet or surpass the U.S. on all accounts.  In his view, China has become so successful so quickly due to the centralized control of the Communist Party (he views claims of current decentralization as overstated) and the country’s pragmatic management of its economy.  Mr. Tassé suggested three factors that may ultimately limit China’s rise: poor environmental conditions (e.g., polluted water sources), uneven development between the coastal provinces and the more rural interior, and social problems causes by population demographics, specifically so many more men than women.

In Q&A, I think he made a key point (a point that I agree with an explains so much about China’s policies on everything from human rights to climate change)–that most Chinese citizens dislike the rule of the Communist Party and what exists is a tacit agreement where so long as economic prosperity continues, citizens will remain satisfied, but if the economy stalls, the Chinese will start questioning the ruling party.