For much of the past several decades, there was widespread consensus that China’s continued rise was inevitable. But in recent years, an alternative school of thought has become popular: China has already peaked.
Which theory is correct? It depends on who you ask.
In 2021, Michael Beckley argued in FP that China’s demographic challenges and a decline in productivity would lead to economic stagnation. Together with his Danger Zone co-author, Hal Brands, Beckley made the term “Peak China” mainstream. But Keyu Jin, the author of The New China Playbook, counters that Beijing could helm the world’s largest economy within the next decade—if it continues its innovative approach to local competition.
Beckley and Jin aired out their perspectives in a debate on FP Live. Beckley builds on his previous work to make the case that a combination of demographics, debt, and geopolitical headwinds will severely restrain China’s rise. Jin counters by pointing to China’s dynamic youth population in the form of 400 million millennials and argues that Beijing’s economic model is, in fact, highly decentralized, friendly to investors, and nimble.
Michael Beckley, a political science professor at Tufts University, argues why China’s aging population will contribute to its economic downfall.
Keyu Jin, a professor at the London School of Economics, and Beckley discuss whether China’s 400 million millennial consumers will borrow and spend enough to save the country from its demographic and economic woes.
Jin and Beckley debate how American restrictions on China and the global geopolitical environment could impact China’s economic growth.
Associate professor of economics, LSE
Keyu Jin is an associate professor of economics at the London School of Economics. She is from Beijing, China, and holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She is also the author of The New China Playbook: Beyond Socialism and Capitalism.
Associate professor of political science, Tufts University
Michael Beckley is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Director of the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower and the co-author of Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China.
Editor in chief, Foreign Policy
Ravi Agrawal is the editor in chief of Foreign Policy, the host of FP Live, and a regular world affairs analyst on TV and radio. Before joining FP in 2018, Agrawal worked at CNN for more than a decade in full-time roles spanning three continents, including as the network’s New Delhi bureau chief and correspondent. He is the author of India Connected: How the Smartphone Is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy.