Is the China Miracle Over?
For the first time in decades, China’s economy is struggling.
Local governments are $9 trillion in debt. The state-owned high-speed railway company is over $800 billion in debt.
Perhaps nothing better represents China’s economic malaise than the 65 million empty homes scattered across the country. Derelict apartment buildings cut forlorn shapes across Shanghai’s skyline. There are enough empty apartments to house the entire population of Italy. Streets, shops and office buildings around Beijing, Ordos City and Guomen Bay are uninhabited and desolate.
China’s ghost cities indicate its economy is on its way to the grave.
Anti-China economists are salivating at the prospect of a slump. Exports are at their lowest point since February 2020, when the pandemic forced the whole world to shut down. In July, they fell for the third month in a row, 14 percent lower than the year before. Key foreign direct investment metrics have plummeted by 87 percent, reaching their lowest level in a quarter of a century.
There are many reasons for this relatively listless China. But the most important one is the most concerning.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, 22 percent of Chinese ages 16 to 24 are unemployed. Peking University professor Zhang Dandan thinks the actual number is closer to 50 percent.
He’s probably right. In September, the Chinese government announced it would stop disclosing youth unemployment figures altogether.
The strong-arm government is wrestling China’s economy to the ground. In 2021, 55 of China’s 100 largest publicly traded firms were privately owned. Today, it’s only 39.
It turns out that communism is bad for business.
China isn’t the only struggling economy. The covid-19 pandemic put the global economy in a state of flux. But China arguably had the most draconian response, which induced an economic disaster.
But is China really collapsing? It’s important not to allow wishful thinking to obscure reality.
China’s recent troubles indicate it will not overtake the United States as leader of the global economy. But that doesn’t invalidate everything else it has achieved.
In just over 40 years, China vaulted from economic obscurity to the second-largest economy in the world. Its ascent was labeled a miracle for a reason. Its robust population and government investment created peerless rates of growth and expansion for decades. China transformed from an agrarian economy to the world’s leading manufacturer.
Twenty-nine percent of the world’s manufacturing output comes from China. It leads the world in telecommunications, 5G development, electric car batteries and vehicles.
Although China’s economy is burdened by debt, it is more from financing infrastructure investment rather than funding social welfare programs as in America.
Expecting China to spiral down to the economic quagmire it came from is self-deception. This loss in momentum was inevitable. Predictions of China’s doom are based only on its failure to meet its own high standards. The International Monetary Fund still expects China’s output to grow by over 5 percent next year, more than any other major economy. The world wants and needs China’s products and the massive market it offers. China’s economy will remain at least the second-largest economy in the world.
In short, China is a victim of its own success.
Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping has a tight grip on China’s government, pandemic response, investment policy and even private enterprise. The state regulates policy in technology, infrastructure and educational sectors. Economic reforms would weaken Xi’s power.
Economists believe China’s economy won’t improve without political reform. But Alicia Garcia-Herrero of the Bruegel think tank told the Atlantic that Xi thinks brics can do what China’s economy couldn’t. “I think this is the plan: ‘My economy might not be bigger’” than America’s, she said, “‘but my bloc will be bigger.’”
Therein lies the danger. China is being forced to look to its partners, particularly Russia.
Russia and China have been thick as thieves for decades, drawing closer than ever in recent years. Russia has been considered the senior partner in the relationship. But China’s rapid economic rise compared to Russia’s relative stasis caused some to whisper that Russia’s days as the dominant Asian force were numbered.
Now China’s economy is struggling, but Russia is thriving.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued the war in Ukraine, eliminated his enemies, and stabilized Russia’s economy. Russia has made 7 percent more in oil sales than it did this time last year. Even with European price caps, Putin has almost neutralized sanctions by inflating shipping costs.
China sees Russia taking on the West to seize a sovereign territory—and it’s keeping its eye on Taiwan. It sees Russia increasing its annual oil exports by over $1.8 billion despite sanctions and embargoes. It sees Putin sacrificing economic stability for political power and national prestige. It sees Russia budgeting 25 percent more for defense this coming year.
Will this be the landmark event that convinces China to submit to Russian leadership? The Bible tells us this is the ultimate hierarchy that will develop.
Long-time Trumpet readers are familiar with our forecasts of a mammoth pan-Asian military alliance to rise up in the near future, an alliance the Bible calls “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). This army will be the largest in mankind’s history, with 200 million soldiers (Revelation 9:16). A companion prophecy in Ezekiel 38 explains which nations will be in this alliance and who will lead it.
It mentions “Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2; New King James Version). Gog refers to Russia; Meshech and Tubal are ancient names for the modern Russian cities of Moscow and Tobolsk. Rosh is also an ancient name for Russia.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains in his booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’ that Vladimir Putin is the “‘prince of Rosh’ that God inspired Ezekiel to write about 2,500 years ago!”
The Ukraine war is all about Putin’s desire to establish leadership over former Soviet Union states. But it doesn’t end there. The Bible prophesies that even more powers will be involved in this enormous Asiatic military force under Putin’s command. “Scholars generally agree,” Mr. Flurry writes, “that ‘the land of Magog’ includes China.”
Current events show this Asian army is taking shape already. You can see it in Putin’s growing authoritarianism and also in his outreach to other Asian powers. Russia has supplied China with many military armaments over the last decade or so; it also helped the Chinese go nuclear. For many years the Russians have been allied with China, at least to some degree.
For a time, many thought China would become the leading power in Asia. But Russia is the prophesied leader. Present economic realities could cause the hierarchy to align with Bible prophecy.
That’s why celebrating China’s economic slump is premature. It is pushing us closer to the creation of this military alliance, which will kill a third of all mankind (Revelation 9:18).
China’s ascent to superpower status is not over. It is about to receive a helping hand and take the secondary power in an alliance that will accomplish untold violence and brutality. To learn more, read Russia and China in Prophecy.