The quest to secure Middle Eastern oil and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan consume much of the foreign policy establishment in Washington today. But in the next decade, more of the U.S.’s attention will shift to the new Middle East: China
Economists have been predicting this shift for decades. China is already the world’s top manufacturer, top auto market, top cement producer and top polluter. Its military and naval capacity is growing. Its construction-driven hunger for natural resources, especially timber and energy, is reshaping the landscapes of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Experts may argue about the pace of China’s economic ascent — Nobel laureate economist Robert Fogel predicts that China’s economy will be an eye-popping 40% of global GDP by 2040, while others project somewhat more modest growth — but few question that it’s happening dazzlingly fast.