Peak China: Personal Observations as a Western Businessperson in China

Peak China: Personal Observations as a Western Businessperson in China

ChinaPeakSLidePatrick Ennis, PhD

Senior Partner, Madrona Venture Group and Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Many facts, figures, and concurring opinions support the impressions conveyed in this article. Deliberately, data has been omitted to emphasize that these anecdotes and thoughts are not always quantifiable. This can lead to conclusions that might differ from common wisdom. Nonetheless, recent literature contains much data and concurring opinions that corroborate the views of this article. Further reading can be found at the end of the article. 


It is fashionable to talk about a “China Rising.” China itself declares its rise, attributing it to a growing economy fueled by manufacturing prowess and increased investments in technological advancements. China boasts of its ascent through statistics, expositions, and Olympics. As a business­person with years of experience in Asia, including over 50 trips to China, I offer a personal perspective on China’s standing. My view is neither based on official economic data (which is suspect in any case), nor based on China’s propaganda. Instead, I observe that we are currently witnessing “Peak China,” and I believe China will soon start to decline in multiple ways. In my opinion, China is undergoing a process of breaking—and that is not good.

Adversaries tend to be most dangerous when they perceive themselves as weakening. The window of opportunity to win wars is rapidly closing, potentially leading to more belligerent and unpredictable behavior than usual. In our competition with China, if the US can navigate the next several years without a major confrontation with China, the US will emerge victorious. The China of 2030 will be far weaker than the China of 2023. This is a controversial view, as many still believe in China’s growing military and economic strength. My personal observation is that Chinese society is rotting from the inside, and the government is failing politically, beset from all sides. Chinese institutions, including the government, do not have a lot of friends within or outside of China.

The Chinese people, Chinese Americans, and Americans of Chinese descent have nothing to do with the government of China. They did not vote to elect President Xi, and very few individuals truly support him. Criticisms of China as an adversary, whether from the left or the right, target the government or the party, rather than the people. Generalized prejudice against Chinese individuals is counter-productive to US national interests. Indeed, as this article will elucidate, one of the best ways to win against China is to promote increased immigration from China to the United States, especially focusing on attracting young and talented individuals.

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