Chinese Economics

In many ways the economics are more important. China's economic performance will largely dictate whether and, if so, when it becomes a superpower. And China is already exerting a much greater impact on the rest of the world economically than politically or militarily.

Already the 10th trading power, China could become the world's biggest economy in 20 or 30 years, according to some estimates. Meanwhile, its vast and growing trade surplus with the United States is rapidly becoming an explosive political issue in Washington.

As a geopolitical rival, China's economic reach clearly distinguishes it from the former Soviet Union, whose main threat to the United States was military and political. Unlike the Soviet Union, China is keen to integrate its economy into an international system grounded in Western free-market philosophy.

China is the most populous country in the world, home to 1.2 billion people (20% of the world's total

Industry and commerce constitute the basis of the Chinese economy, but agriculture employs the majority of the labor force.