In an interview last week, the CEO of Tesla Elon Musk warned that China was about to overtake the United States. This concept is not new. People have been talking about the Chinese economy and military becoming a peer with the United States for over a decade. What was startling about Musk’s statement was that he intimated that the Chinese economy will soon be two or three times larger than the United States. Such a sentiment was unthinkable a few short years ago, but now with the country struggling to produce baby formula anything seems possible.
Musk makes a further point in the interview that the US must stop the self-inflicted wounds. As a country we are arguing with each other about what pronouns we should be using and if men can have babies. Our enemies, China in particular, are laughing at us unencumbered by such foolishness. One advantage of being an authoritarian regime is that you can concentrate your nation’s resources and people on one goal. The downside to such an approach, and why the United States can have the upper hand if it becomes organized, is that authoritarianism crushes innovation.
We may not have much time. China is watching NATO’s response to the war in Ukraine. Although the sanctions placed on Russia by the West have hurt Putin in the short term, his country has rebounded, and the ruble is trading higher than when the war started at a five-year high. China has the largest navy in the world. Now may be the time for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to move militarily towards Taiwan. This would pose a major problem for the US given we have shifted a sizable portion of our manufacturing base to China. Imposing sanctions on them would have an even more devastating effect than the Russian sanctions.
If we are to compete with China, we must first recognize that they are our adversary at best, and an antagonistic enemy at worst. Once the US accepts that fact, we must set aside our petty squabbles and unify to face the rising threat of the CCP. Musk is correct. The only way forward is together.