If technological prowess, rather than hordes of young men, is the key to future power then China is well placed. The country has cutting-edge capabilities in fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence. With a population of 1.4 billion people, which is likely only to decline gently until mid-century, China will not be short of manpower either.
It is the structure rather than the size of China’s population that will be the real challenge. By 2040, about 30 per cent of the country will be over 60. More old people will have to be supported by a smaller working age population, slowing economic growth.
China may never achieve the per-capita wealth levels of the US. But even if the average Chinese is only half as rich as the average American, the Chinese economy would still easily surpass America’s in overall size.
China will soon lose its title as the world’s most populous nation. The populations of India and China are roughly equivalent. But by…