Some ten years ago (here), I wrote in this humble blog about the-then common belief among the Great Thinkers that the 21st century would "belong" to China much as the 20th had "belonged" to the USA.
I had doubts about that, and concluded that the 21st century would only belong to China to the degree that we gave it away. I saw neither then nor now anything intrinsically great about the thuggish CCP that would make their China into a world leader. The PRC was and is a brutish authoritarian state, albeit with large foreign currency reserves; it does not invent, or innovate in any field in particular. China's advancement such as it is, has been obtained largely by espionage, theft, purchase, bribery, and bullying of the first degree, combined with an astute understanding of the greed and the lack of patriotism of large Western corporations.
Well, have we "given away" the 21st century to China?
There is little if any doubt--none, actually--that the Biden crime family, and others, have made enormous amounts of money from China--and Ukraine. Over the years, we have outsourced critical components of our manufacturing and technological base to China, creating an everyday dependence on Chinese production. According to official GDP figures, always suspect, China now has the second largest economy in the world. That might or might not be given the CCP's known manipulation of such numbers, including the "padding" of the Chinese economy with essentially worthless, corruption-ridden construction projects.
It's hard to find out what's going in China. The CCP has mastered the information shutdown to a degree that would make the old Soviets envious. On COVID, for example, we never have gotten the accurate word on what China's role was in propagating that virus. The CCP has used its dollar clout to shut up the WHO and gotten the tacit support of American technology/information giants to suppress views indicating that the virus came out of a lab in Wuhan. We now see oddities in China related to the virus, supposedly. The almost total and brutal lockdown of Shanghai is an extraordinary event which our passive press largely have ignored. It is not at all clear that the lockdown in that enormous city has anything to do with real concerns about COVID, and could well be the product of a power struggle over the upcoming 20th Congress of the CCP. I noted before in my old post referenced above that the leadership of the CCP, following the death of Mao much like the CPSU following the death of Stalin, had decided that no one man would come to hold the power that Mao had wielded. Xi Jing Pin, however, seems to have a different idea; it appears that he seeks to turn the 20th Congress into his coronation as leader for life. It also appears that CCP leaders from Shanghai have a different view from Xi's, and they are getting their city locked down in response. Hard to tell what's going on, so I might be totally wrong, but . . ..
One of the more interesting "facts," well, I think it's a fact, is that despite China's fame as a manufacturer, the core of its economy, something around 70%, remains real estate and its financing. China's largest companies are in different facets of the real estate business. From what I have read, it seems that, despite the censorship and repression, perhaps hundreds-of-thousands--maybe more--of ordinary Chinese have grown tired of paying mortgages for houses that never get built; these citizens are simply refusing to pay. The construction companies and banks use the down payments and mortgage payments to buy or lease more land to sell never-to-build houses to other Chinese citizens. A massive Ponzi scheme on a scale never before attempted. This mortgage payment strike apparently has been sweeping the country forcing the CCP to begin to intervene. As I noted all those many years ago, Chinese banks remain a mystery. It would not be too crazy a thought that we could see a major meltdown in China's banks and real estate businesses. That would pose a massive threat to the entire CCP economic scheme of the past 25 or so years, and have serious consequences for Xi.
China is much weaker than it appears from the outside. That, however, does not make it not a threat. We saw how Argentina's dictators tried to distract from Argentina's impending economic collapse by provoking a war with Britain over the Falklands. China, better said, Xi might/might view an adventure over Taiwan as way to distract from troubles at home and solidify his grip on the CCP.
So, we will see how Xi reacts to the Pelosi visit and to the obvious weakness in Washington and the West.