China was once again the fastest-growing large country in the world, with 9.9% growth in 2005 on top of 10.1% growth in 2004.
This incredible surge, which began in 1979 or 1991, depending on how you look at it, has lifted over 400 million Chinese out of poverty, helped China rise greatly in almost all meaures of human development, and kept the world economy growing at a higher rate than that of the United States. At the current rate, China will become a developed country (a country with a Human Development Index score greater than 0.800) by 2010, putting China roughly at the level of human development the United States had in 1960.
However, I also submit that China will have to evolve into a genuine democracy to advance their society beyond that level in the decade following 2010. I submit that to truly become a wealthy nation, China will have to foster innovation, creativity, and self-determination at the grassroots level, and cannot achieve this as long as the Chinese Communist Party controls Chinese society this tightly.
A bit of perspective is in order.
Consider that America is still condemned heavily for slavery that ended in the 1860s (sometimes even from countries that had slavery until well past that period), yet China is criticized relatively less than that for their invasion of Tibet during the 1950s and their Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, just 17 years ago.
Consider that when there is a tsunami in the Indian Ocean or an earthquake in Pakistan, America is criticized for not providing enough aid soon enough. Few voices are even asking the supposedly emerging superpower on the same continent for aid.
America is criticized for not proving enough humanitarian aid to Africa, despite the billions already provided. How often do you hear anyone suggest that China should also donate aid to Africa?
As the world's lone superpower, America carries a heavy burden. Being held to a standard that no other country is held to, and being criticized for solving only a few, rather than all of the problems in the world, is something Americans have grown accustomed to. Those who are so quick to conclude that China will achieve parity with or even surpass America have to consider just how many burdens China has to be prepared to carry before it can occupy the same echelon.