Everyone loved to talk about “The Rise of China”. It was ominous, mysterious, and terrifying to many people. They loved to talk about it like it was the rise of The Joker from Batman. China’s ascension to a more powerful world position must inevitably mean the downfall of the United States. Right?

Whoever came up with this idea that China and the United States live within the 9th grade world of inverse relationships should wipe off their foggy glasses to see that there is much more to the story. There is a world where both countries can succeed and we will almost undoubtedly see that in the future. Will China be able to eclipse the United States as the most powerful nation in the world? If you power is defined by economic output and population size then sure, China has already eclipsed the U.S in certain key areas.

What people often forget, however, is that until you step your own feet on Chinese soil, hustle through the bustling streets of Beijing and Shanghai, and carefully stroll through the rural acres of farmland that blanket the country’s stomach, it is impossible to know for sure whether or not China can be the most powerful country in the world. Throw out all the economic data and projections you want. Until you meet the people, you just can’t know for sure. Countries are defined by their populations and not by their numbers.

We’ve heard of all the problems China has had censoring their own people, not allowing them to enjoy and productively use freedoms of speech and expression. Now we see the government doing things like this with hopes of modernizing their infrastructure:

How can a nation become  the most powerful in the world if their population isn’t given the proper tools to be creative and innovative? Or what if they feel as though they can’t trust their government? What if they would rather leave their country to work in what they feel is a better space?

I have never been to China or talked to Chinese citizens. But if I was forced to live under similar conditions, I wouldn’t see my country rising to any sort of world dominance in the near future.

Finally, we are seeing signs of that inevitable conclusion…

Is this assessment of China right or wrong? What does a country essentially need to become a major world power and ultimately, the most powerful?