Performing America’s toughest job alone

I was riding in the back of a cab on a recent afternoon when the driver looked up and said he had a message for me.

“The 21st century belongs to China,” the man, in his 50s, said in Mandarin. “For every 10 cents we earn, we save 9, that’s why the Chinese were not really affected by the global financial crisis … Foreigners are now coming here to learn how to save money.”

I smiled and kept my mouth shut, as I often do when I’m told that China will pass the United States as the world’s top economy. It’s a common belief these days, not only here but in the rest of the world. The reason? As Bill Clinton would say, “It’s the economy stupid.”

“This is especially the case in Western Europe, where the percentage naming China as the world’s top economic power has increased by double digits in Spain, Germany, Britain and France since 2009,” Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, said last month in a discussion on US-China public opinion.

A luxury hotel under construction beside the gleaming China Central Television tower in downtown Beijing. Construction projects can be seen in many large cities in China, the world's second-largest economy.

Meanwhile, the Chinese, by almost a 2-to-1 margin, still rate the US as the world’s top economy, Wike said. Continue reading