Xi is tanking China’s economy. That’s bad for the United States

President Xi Jinping’s preference for tight control is taking a toll on Chinese industry and culture. Once expected to overcome the United States as the world’s largest economic power by 2035, China is losing population at a precipitous rate and its people are less prosperous.

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Editorials

February 22, 2024 - 2:40 PM

A committed Communist, China's President Xi Jinping has an aversion to the private sector and channels government support preferentially to inefficient state-owned enterprises. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images/TNS)

For the past decade, Americans have worried increasingly about China, not least because Chinese President Xi Jinping has centralized power, silenced critics, stalled private-sector reforms and taken an increasingly combative posture toward the rest of the world. China was set to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economic power by 2035, Mr. Xi predicted; China would then retake its rightful position at the center of world affairs.

Instead, Mr. Xi’s China is less free, less prosperous and less competently governed than it would have been had he taken a different course — one not inspired by rivalry with the West or fear of his own people. Economic and demographic data show that a China-dominated world is even less likely than it ever was. Economists have started revising their predictions on when China might overtake the U.S. economically — and if it ever will.

Despite Mr. Xi lifting the world’s most draconian Covid-19 restrictions at the end of 2022, construction in China has slowed, manufacturing prices have declined and consumer spending has flattened. China’s stock market has lost $6 trillion in value in three years. A dozen cities and provinces have been told to halt construction of infrastructure projects — cutting into their main source of revenue.

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