China’s leaders are strong and emboldened. It’s wrong to see them as weak and insecure

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There’s an emerging view that China’s belligerent approach and “torching” of diplomatic relationships with the wider world is a sign of “insecurity and weakness”; that its economic growth is “unsustainable”; and that “everyone in the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party” knows the day is coming when “China’s entire economic structure and strategic position crumbles”.

These views are drawn from an essay by Peter Zeihan entitled A Failure of Leadership: The Beginning of the End of China.

He describes himself as a geopolitical strategist whose work history includes a stint working for the US State Department in Australia.

He is hardly the first person to say these sorts of things, and I suspect he won’t be the first to be wrong about them, at least for quite a while.

That’s not to say he doesn’t draw on facts. China has been extraordinarily profligate in its use of capital, and has become progressively more so over the last two decades.

Paul Krugman (1994) famously made the same point about the then rapidly-growing smaller East Asian economies a few years before the Asian financial crisis in The Myth of Asia’s Miracle.

China is certainly laden …

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