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A world in which the US is no longer No. 1

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Zakaria writes that the global economic explosion is a consequence of political change (the fall of the Soviet state discredited central planning); the free movement of capital around the world (the daily flow of trillions of dollars lubricates the global economy); and the communications revolution (the Internet and cellphones have transformed business by driving down costs and increasing efficiency).

The rise of India and China
In presenting this story, Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and an astute analyst of US foreign policy, looks closely at economic developments in China and India, and assesses how the spread of global wealth will affect the US.

With annual economic growth averaging 9 percent for the past 30 years, China has emerged as a global economic powerhouse. In 1978, the country made 200 air conditioners; in 2005, it made 48 million. It produces two-thirds of the world’s photocopiers, microwave ovens, and shoes, and now exports as much each day as it did in all of 1978.

The average income for a Chinese person has increased sevenfold during that time, allowing 400 million people to escape poverty. While the country faces enormous challenges (how, for example, will the government reconcile its policy of economic liberalization with its refusal to democratize the political system?), China will prove a formidable competitor for the United States and a key concern for US policymakers.

Zakaria’s discussion of India is particularly incisive. Born and raised there (he left to attend Yale University and later Harvard University), he details the changes washing over the country, which, like China, is developing at warp speed. While there are key differences between them (India is a democracy), India’s remarkable growth, like China’s, has drastically reduced poverty. More Indians have risen from poverty in the past 10 years than in the previous 50.

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