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China faces economic collapse before 2030: Peter Zeihan

China grappling with historically unprecedented demographic crisis, says geopolitical analyst

(Unsplash photo, Yan Ke) 

(Unsplash photo, Yan Ke) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Geopolitical analyst and consultant Peter Zeihan discussed the economic, demographic, and political landscape in East Asia with Taiwan News in early February.

Zeihan, who recently published his fourth book, "The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization," spoke at length about demographic trends that could radically alter societies across the globe in the coming decade.

In part one of the interview, Zeihan spoke at length about the demographic crisis that is affecting China. Based on his analysis, China is on the brink of economic collapse because it does not have sufficient population growth to maintain its own economic livelihood.

As Zeihan explains, the severity of China’s demographic collapse is the result of Beijing’s one-child policy, which was enacted in 1980 and was in place until 2015. China most likely “passed it’s peak in population 15 years ago, and we are on track for the dissolution of China as an economic entity before the end of the decade,” said Zeihan.

With such a large country, both in terms of population and economy, such a catastrophic collapse is unprecedented in human history. The nature and magnitude of this crisis could have unpredictable outcomes politically.

However, China is not the only country dealing with serious demographic problems. Among other industrialized nations in Northeast Asia, Zeihan said that South Korea’s situation is the most serious and the most similar to China.

Japan, although facing similar problems, has been one of the most proactive countries in the world to prepare for its own population decline. Therefore, Japan is better prepared to weather the economic and social transformation than most countries.

As for Taiwan, Zeihan cautioned that it is on a “sharply negative track” in regard to population decline. However, Taiwan also has “a bit more elbow room than either Japan or Korea per capita.” Based on his estimates, Taiwan still has 20 to 30 years before the situation becomes as severe as South Korea.

In that time, Taiwan would be wise to follow Japan in adopting measures and policies aimed at mitigating the worst effects of demographic decline.

Watch part one of the Taiwan News interview with Peter Zeihan below. Keep an eye out for part two next week, which will focus on the possibility of military conflict between China and Taiwan.