The world is changing with really remarkable speed. If you look at the chart at the top here, you’ll see that in 2025 these Goldman Sachs projections suggest that the Chinese economy will be almost the same size as the American economy. And if you look at the chart for 2050, it’s projected that the Chinese economy will be twice the size of the American economy, and the Indian economy will be almost the same size as the American economy. We should bear in mind here these projections were drawn up before the Western financial crises.
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the latest projection by BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris) PARIBAS for when China will have a larger economy than the United States. Goldman Sachs projected 2027. The post-crisis projection is 2010. That’s just a decade way.China is going to change the world in two fundamental respects. First of all, it's a huge developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, which has been growing for over 30 years at around 10% a year. And within a decade it will have the largest economy in the world. Never before in the modern era has the largest economy in the world been that of a developing country, rather than a developed country.
Secondly, for the first time in the modern era, the dominant country in the world which I think is China will become, will be not from the West, and from very very different civilizational roots.Now I know it’s a widespread assumption in the West that as countries modernize, they also Westernize. This is an illusion. It’s an assumption that modernity is a product simply of competition markets and technology. It is not; it is also shaped equally by history and culture. China is not like the West, and it will not become like the West. It will remain in very fundamental respects very different. Now the big question here is obviously, how do we make sense of China? How do we try to understand what China is? And the problem we have in the West at the moment by-and-large is that the conventional approach is that we understand it really in Western terms, using Western ideas. We can’t. Now I want to offer you 3 building blocks for trying to understand what China is like just as a beginning.
The first is this, that China is not really a nation state. Okay, it's called itself a nation state for the last hundred years. But everyone who knows anything about China knows it’s a lot older than this. This was what China looked with the victory of the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C. at the end of warring state period—the birth of modern China. And you can see it against the boundaries of modern China. Or immediately afterward, the Han Dynasty, still 2000 years ago, and you can see already it occupies most of what we now know as Eastern China which is where the vast majority of Chinese lived then and live now.
Now what is extraordinary about this is what gives China it’s sense of being China, what gives the Chinese the sense of what it is to be Chinese, comes not from the last hundred years, not from the nation state period which is what happened in the West, but from the period, if you like, of the civilization state. I’m thinking here, for example, of customs like ancestral worship, of a very distinctive notion of the state, likewise, a very distinctive notion of the family, social relationships like “guanxi”, Confucian values and so on. These are all things that come from the period of the civilization state.