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The Truth About China’s Long Game

Brett King says to see the future, look eastward.

Futurist Brett King is the author of eight best-selling books on the future of banking and fintech, and has the ear of many influential people including President Xi of China.

His 2015 book Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane was a top-ten best seller in North America but gained special notoriety when it was prominently displayed on Xi's bookshelf behind the Chinese President during his 2018 national address.

Xi has got to like the story King tells.

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“Right now there is a split on the future of China,” King says. “You have the Bloomberg/Reuters line predicting doom. They ask 'what about the demographics crash and the real estate implosion?'

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On the other side, you have Ray Dalio who points out China’s had its best quarter since 2019 and that they are on a clear trajectory to overtake the US. With him is Elon Musk, who recently projected China’s economy will be two to three times the United States’ economy by mid-century.”

CHINA'S ECONOMY WILL DOMINATE

King leans toward Dalio and Musk’s predictions. “I think current problems have delayed their dominance to become the number one economy in the world, but the fundamentals are there. I’d say between 2038-2042, the Chinese economy will surpass the US.”

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He likens post-pandemic China to post-WW II America. “They are hitting both metrics we use to describe our dominance after the last world war.” For example, the US produced 40% of global output in the 1960s, “but 85% of global output will be from China and India by 2065. This is the Asian century.”

CHINA IS PLAYING THE LONG GAME

The second metricthe speed of our middle class growthdefined the mid-twentieth century. “Now,” he explains, “all you need is 25% of the Chinese population to earn the same salary as Americans, which I expect will happen at the end of the 2030s, and that alone would have them exceed US GDP.”

As is often cited, China is playing a long game.

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“They have put in massive social and next-generation infrastructure and autonomous supply chain circles. They have spent 11 trillion dollars on the Belt and Road initiative to ensure and smooth next generation trade. They’re working closely with the BRICS Alliance, especially with Brazil and Russia on trade agreements to circumvent potential sanctions from the US. They dominate in EV, low-cost fast rail, and they’ve accelerated the digitalization of trade and money to displace the dollar.”

Efficiency and social control go hand in hand. “Shenzhen, for example, is the most autonomous city in the world today. They've got autonomous transportation. You don’t see police on the streets; you get texted a fine when you speed. Emergency vehicles are dispatched by AI through image recognition.”

And when it comes to the AI “arms race,” King says, they are way ahead.

QUANTUM SUPREMACY

“China is preparing for quantum supremacy and encryption. Those weather balloons over the western United States? They were collecting radio signals for a time when they will decrypt them via quantum.”

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US Navy sailors recover the wreckage of the downed Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Photograph: PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS TYLER TH/US NAVY/AFP/Getty Images

King’s latest book is The Rise of Technosocialism, a philosophical work on how AI, climate change and inequality will change the direction of the entire human species. “This is a time to be fully engaged in everything tech and fintech,” he says. “The future is unclear, because the future is what we make it.”

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