China – Is it Really a Threat
But it is important to emphasise that China’s apparent lead is largely due to its very large population about four times that of the United States. GDP/capita is the measure that determines the stage of development. By this measure the World Bank (there are slight differences between institutions who measure this because of different methodologies) calculates China’s GDP/capita as $23,382, and the US as $80,035. the United States is ranked No. 8 and China is ranked No. 73 (quoted in Wikipedia).
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (which is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing) would have us believe that China leads in a range of. technologies. These may be the truth but not the whole truth. They have been selective in their choice of indicators. Their apparent aim is to present to Australia that China is a threat.
More independent sources paint a different picture. For example, Bloomberg Innovation Index which is probably the most comprehensive, ranks in seven different areas: Research and Development, Manufacturing, Hi-Tech companies, Education, Research Personnel and Patents. The overall index places South Korea in the lead, the United States 5th Australia 13th and China 22nd.
Similarly, the Global Innovation Index places Switzerland first overall, the United States second and China 11th.
The two independent indices vary in their results as might be expected with different methodologies but one thing they have in common is that China is well down the list. This accords with China’s own assessment of its level of development.
The other relevant measure of course is defence spending. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates total defence spending. For the United States it is $877 billion or 2,579 per capita (Melvin A Goodman P&I 19th June 2023 puts it even higher at 1,200 billion). China’s spending is estimated at $292 billion or $208 per capita. The conclusion is clear. China’s spending is only a third of the United States and on a per capita basis is more than an order of magnitude lower than the United States.
What are we to conclude from the above? My contention is that ASIO numbers are being selectively presented to make China appear as a threat to the United States. Even if it were shown that China has hostile intent, and there is no evidence of this, the conclusion from independent analysis is that China is not a significant threat to the United States.
No country should feel threatened by another’s advancement. It is called competition. Australia should acknowledge this new reality and benefit from it as it has done in the past, even if the United States is slow to do so.