Chapter 3: What the China Miracle Means
Russia knew exactly what it was doing by timing its invasion of Georgia for August 7, 2008. It so happened that the world was engrossed in an apparently far more compelling drama at the time: the imminent start of the spectacular Olympic Games in Beijing.
China used the occasion to announce itself to the world as a power every bit as vibrant and muscular as the athletes it hosted. Unabashedly confident, radiating with national pride, exploding into modernity—China is on fire.
“There are simply no words adequate … to describe this phenomenon, especially as seen by the eye at street level,” one of our readers wrote us from Beijing after the Olympics opening ceremony. “Economic growth figures, China’s purchase of U.S. treasury bonds and takeover of British companies—[these] can’t capture in words what is visible to a person in this city. Ordinary people who still regard China as [backward] would be stunned into silence if they laid eyes on Beijing (which … is not as large as the main commercial city, Shanghai). In fact, judging by what I see, the day China surpasses the U.S. as the world’s largest economy is much nearer than all the forecasts indicate.”
Critics grouse about China’s poor human rights, its authoritarianism, its support for corrupt regimes, its pollution. Correct as they are, their criticisms simply aren’t going to stop this bullet train. This country is barreling into the future—and, in the process, changing the world.
This is a revolution. It is, in fact, a prophecy—a look at the future.
America Plus a Billion
In one sense, it’s a question of simple math. China has 1.4 billion people—1 out of every 5 people on Earth. That’s America’s population plus a billion. Now, multiply any trend—relating to society, economy, technology, food or anything else—by 1.4 billion, and you will see a huge global impact. And the trend in China is definitely toward bigger, faster and more.
China uses about 56 percent of the world’s cement. From having no highways just 35 years ago, today it has almost 104,000 miles of them. And those roads bear the weight of over 71,000 more cars every day—26 million more per year. China is already the world’s biggest market for new cars, and also its largest carmaker. It consumes about half of the world’s iron and steel.
In 2005, China had 135 civil airports. By the end of 2021, the number had grown to 248.
China is pushing ahead with a plan to move 250 million people from the country to the city over the next 12 years. This urban migration has driven the construction of more than 50 ghost cities across China. These huge metropolitan areas are designed for millions of inhabitants, but are currently occupied by about 100,000 people while the Chinese government prepares for a huge urban migration. Today, the United States has 10 cities of over 1 million people. China has more than 160 and is expecting more.
China’s mushrooming economy is growing 42 percent faster than America’s, and China has passed Japan as the world’s second-largest national economy. By some measures, China already has a larger economy than the United States. In a single generation, China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, half of them into the middle class. Such development is simply jaw-dropping, historically unprecedented.
Here’s why this trend is so earthshaking. It takes a lot of resources to fuel such explosive growth on such an enormous scale: more food, more electricity—more everything. That’s a crushing reality when over a billion people suddenly start gaining an appetite for consumption.
The trouble is, some of those resources are already in short supply on our planet.
An abc News report, China Inside Out, quoted one expert saying that for China’s mammoth population to enjoy affluence as great as America’s, the necessary resources would demand another planet.
And that is why, with just a pinch of foresight, you can see where this trend is headed.
The World’s Hungry Teenager
In 2010, China passed the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer. Between 2000 and 2006, China’s increase in energy demand exceeded all the electricity it had used to that point in history. Some Chinese factories have to shut down several days per week simply because they don’t have enough voltage. The nation is making a valiant effort to keep pace with demand: In 2020 alone, it built new power-generating capacity equivalent to what all of Italy uses. It commissions a new power station every four days. Besides the 47 nuclear power reactors in operation and 11 nuclear power plants under construction, China plans to build at least 150 new reactors over the next 15 years. As of 2022, China operates 1,100 coal-fired power stations—13 percent of the world’s total. It consumes more than half of global coal production.
Meanwhile, those 26 million new Chinese cars each year need gasoline. China already imports 565 million tons of oil per year, and this demand is skyrocketing, which puts additional, unwelcome strain on global oil supplies. In 1998, China was a net exporter of oil; by 2013, it had become the number one importer.
China is the world’s hungry teenager. In order to fill these colossal cravings, Beijing has launched an extraordinary outreach program into the rest of the world.
Forcing the Issue
In September 2013, newly appointed Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled his plan called “One Belt, One Road”—a land and sea version of the Silk Road trading route that would run through Asia, Europe and Africa. The initiative would cover an area that holds 55 percent of the world’s gross national product, 70 percent of the global population and 75 percent of known energy reserves. DefenseNews wrote, “China’s ‘one belt and one road’ initiative could usher in a new era that sees China as the undisputed geopolitical powerhouse in the region” (April 12, 2015). The idea is mainly economic, but as Zhuang Jianzhoug, vice director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for National Strategy Studies, said, it “has political and strategic components and implications.” China is extending its influence and reach to create what Quartz called “the most extensive global commercial-military empire in history” (June 9, 2015). Beijing is making a “resource grab” wherever it can, creating economic alliances to fund its global ambitions of becoming a superpower.
China started by being an invaluable neighbor, making itself the top or number two trading partner of virtually every nation in Asia. “Seeking strength in numbers, Southeast Asian governments strive not only to tap into China’s new wealth, but also to embed Beijing in a thicket of organizations and dialogues in the name of ‘community-building’ and closer integration,” wrote Ellen Frost in Global Politician. “Conscious of residual wariness, Chinese leaders go out of their way to reassure their Asian neighbors that Chinese intentions are entirely peaceful. Unlike Washington, China has projected a sympathetic and listening attitude, offering aid and trade deals without immediately demanding anything in return” (May 14, 2008).
Beijing is also extending itself diplomatically, economically and even militarily into anywhere and everywhere in the world with resources for sale. It has significant economic ties with every African nation except Swaziland.
China overtook the U.S. as Africa’s top trade partner in 2009. By 2022, bilateral trade between China and Africa reached $254 billion. China is now helping to build railroads, roads and airports to link every African country. Some have raised concerns over China’s rapid invasion into Africa, calling the Chinese “the new imperialists.” Some debate whether China is genuinely trying to stabilize Africa or just selfishly exploiting its natural resources.
China has also stormed virtually the whole of the Caribbean and Latin America. As the U.S. has retreated from this region, China has been the main player to move its way into the void. From 2000 to 2020, trade between China and Latin America increased by a staggering 2,600 percent. According to data provided by the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, China surpassed the European Union in 2016 to become Latin America’s second-largest trade partner. China’s push into Latin America also includes an increasing amount of investment. Since 2005, China’s three largest state investment banks have loaned $140 billion to Latin America and General Secretary Xi Jinping has pledged to invest billions more over the next decade.” “The region is ripe for investment, for engagement, with a partner of China’s size in different sectors,” said Heritage Foundation research assistant Mateo Haydar. “And [China is] capitalizing on that in ways that I think we’re failing to recognize and at a speed that I think we’re failing to respond to” (Jan. 2, 2022).
China has also laid inroads throughout the Middle East. Trade has risen from around $20 billion a 15 years ago to an estimated $245 billion in 2021. In 2021, China imported 10.3 million barrels per day and the Middle East accounts for more than 47 percent of that supply.
And Beijing exhibits none of the qualms that many Western nations have over doing business with corrupt, authoritarian, dictatorial, even genocidal regimes. It doesn’t sermonize—it just floods other nations with cash, workers, infrastructure, weapons and whatever else they need. Usually, it leaves with resources. And in some cases, it leaves behind a political mess.
Look at what is happening here. China’s meteoric growth and aggressive chase for resources are forcing the issue on the rest of the world.
Ethical hang-ups, anemic ambition, bureaucratic sluggishness—these factors are starting to leave other nations out in the cold in the intensifying contest over Earth’s wealth. China has upped the ante. Its success—in what could be viewed, at this stage, as soft imperialism—obliges other nations that want to remain competitive to step up. You can already see it happening.
This is what makes these trends so prophetic.
January 16, 2016, marked a radical turning point for the global economy, particularly America’s economic dominance. On that date, at a lavish ceremony, President Xi officially launched the massive Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (aiib)—a new, Chinese-run international bank that directly challenges U.S. global economic leadership.
This bank’s official role is to help finance development of infrastructure in Asia. It will facilitate the completion of energy and power projects, transportation and telecommunications networks, rural infrastructure and agriculture development, water supply and sanitation utilities, and urban development and logistics programs. The goal of the aiib is to become the premier source of development funding in Asia.
Unofficially, the goal of the bank is to reduce Asian dependence on the American-controlled World Bank—and replace it with dependence on China. And ultimately, it is to replace the U.S. dollar with the Chinese yuan as the medium of finance.
Astoundingly, America’s allies appear willing to play along as long as they get a piece of the economic pie. When China proposed the launch of the aiib in March 2015, America tried to convince other nations not to join. But it failed—even with its closest allies. It was “a diplomatic debacle for the U.S.,” wrote Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman. “By setting up and then losing a power struggle with China, Washington has sent an unintended signal about the drift of power and influence in the 21st century” (March 16, 2015). The global embrace of the aiib was a major embarrassment to America and a colossal victory for China.
China can now use the aiib as a means of pressuring other nations. For example, since the Philippines expressed interest in joining, Manila now has a compelling reason to turn a blind eye to China’s illegal construction of islands in Philippine territory. By hushing up about the Chinese expansionist project, the Philippines is likelier to gain favor and funding from China’s aiib for any number of economic initiatives. The same kind of motivation may have factored into Australia’s decision in 2015 to give China 99 years of control of the vital Port of Darwin.
The aiib marks a huge step toward making the yuan a reserve currency that could potentially compete with the dollar. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called the introduction of the bank the most important financial event since America led the world off the gold standard in 1971. It signals a seismic shift in financial power away from the United States and demonstrates the tremendous economic clout China has gained.
China and Taiwan
Ties between Taiwan (officially named the Republic of China) and China have been icy for as long as the two have existed as separate nations. That separation was the result of a bloody civil war between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang nationalist party. The war raged in mainland China from 1927 until 1950, with a brief intermission during World War ii when both sides fought against Japan. By 1949, the Communists had defeated the Kuomintang, forcing its members to flee to the island of Taiwan—about 110 miles off the coast of mainland China. Ever since, China, under the Communist Party, has actively claimed ownership of Taiwan. China views Taiwan as an offshore rebel province and has often vowed to use force to dominate it.
For decades, the Taiwanese have lived in fear of invasion from Chinese forces. But this tiny island has stayed independent thanks to military equipment, political support and a promise from an ally that also happens to be a superpower: the United States.
Now, however, America’s support for Taiwanese independence has diminished. In 1998, Bill Clinton became the first American president to publicly oppose Taiwanese independence. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said Clinton’s opposition meant it was only a matter of time before Taiwan would come under China’s rule. “The Chinese leaders pressured the president and America to speak against our freedom-loving friends” in Taiwan, Mr. Flurry wrote. “The people of Taiwan fear for their future. They feel betrayed. … Once again, America has showcased its broken will to the whole world. … How could anyone fail to see that Taiwan is destined to become a part of mainland China? These 21 million people are going to be forced into the Chinese mold; and it is going to happen for one reason: because of a pitifully weak-willed America. Does freedom really mean so little to us?” (Trumpet, August 1998).
At the time that was written, the idea of Taiwan becoming assimilated into China may have seemed likely only in the distant future. But not now.
Bowing to China
Throughout his term as Taiwan’s president—from 2008 to early 2016—Ma Ying-jeou prioritized improving Taiwan’s relationship with China. He accomplished that largely by giving in to Beijing. Many Taiwanese were furious about Ma’s capitulations. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest trade deals he made with China on the grounds that they gave Beijing dangerous economic and political leverage over Taiwan. But in light of America’s track record of weak foreign policy, especially under the Obama administration, Ma’s actions were logical. He saw the U.S. retreating from its role as global stabilizer. He saw America abandoning its allies and kowtowing to its enemies. And Ma may well have concluded that the U.S.’s security assurances are worthless and that prudence required appeasing China.
However, Ma’s presidency ended on January 16, 2016, and Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (dpp) came into power after a landslide victory. When the dpp was previously in power, it took a stance opposite Ma’s. It aggressively pushed a pro-independence agenda. Now under President Tsai Ing-wen, the dpp is set to follow the same path. Tsai has always refused to endorse the so-called “one China” principle. And with the landslide victory, the people of Taiwan signaled that they are tired of giving in to their giant Communist-run neighbor. Tsai’s early rhetoric after the victory suggested that the dpp will likely try to reverse some of Ma’s moves toward China.
The question is, how long will Beijing tolerate a less-cooperative Taiwan? Likely not for long. After the election, China’s official Xinhua news agency said there was “no denying that the dpp’s return rule poses grave challenges to cross-strait relations.”
It is possible the dpp may acknowledge that the new reality of a broken-willed America requires that Taiwan continue on the path Ma was taking—the path of submission to China. Or if the dpp decides to stay tough against China, it could prompt Beijing to react with force and swallow Taiwan. If that happens, as Mr. Flurry said, “it is going to happen for one reason: because of a pitifully weak-willed America.” This is certainly a prophecy worth continuing to watch.
To add teeth to its aggressive economic and political policies, China is working diligently to upgrade its military capabilities.
In 2008, China overtook the United Kingdom as the world’s second-largest military spender. Though far behind America’s $731 billion of military spending, China is quickly closing the gap. In 2022, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that China spent $229 billion on its military. The People’s Liberation Army (pla) is the largest standing army in the world, with 2.2 million troops, and China has 313 million men fit for military service. The pla Ground Force has 975,000 men. Experts say this number can be quickly augmented by a 500,000-strong reserve force, 1.5 million armed police and 8 million militia men.
One of the biggest growth areas in China’s military is the pla Navy (plan). As China looks further afield for resources, it needs a robust navy to defend its maritime lifelines. April 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of China’s navy, and China celebrated by showcasing 32 naval vessels and 39 naval warplanes. “The pla Navy ship and aircraft to be revealed are the Liaoning aircraft carrier, new types of nuclear submarines, new types of destroyers, as well as fighter aircraft,” Deputy Cmdr. Qiu Yanpeng told reporters. “Some ships will be revealed for the first time” (April 19, 2019).
Since 2000, China has focused on modernizing its Navy. Research conducted by rand suggests that China only had 57 battleships and 80 submarines in 1996, but now has 335 battleships (including two aircraft carriers) and 79 submarines. While China’s navy is obviously less technologically advanced than the U.S. Navy, it technically now has more deployable ships. It plans to arm its submarines with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads up to 7,500 miles. It could also decide to equip its over 7,100 merchant ships with ballistic missiles.
In 2014, China ramped up its territorial claims in the South China Sea when it began creating artificial islands in disputed waters and militarizing them. Some of the islands are as far as 800 miles from mainland China, but only 150 miles from the Philippines. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, such turf belongs to the Philippines. But who is around to enforce “international law”? Despite complaints from America, the Philippines and other nations, China keeps building these islands, thereby bolstering its claims to almost the entire South China Sea. Beijing saw from America’s weak response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the U.S. is no longer willing to confront aggressors with any real power. It wasted no time taking advantage of the new reality.
Of course, despite its growth, China still lags far behind the U.S. and remains less advanced than Europe militarily. This is why China is looking for unconventional ways to level the playing field.
China sees cyberwarfare as an important tool for “undermining the U.S. military’s technological edge,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2007 Annual Report to Congress on China’s military power.
One of the largest breaches in American military history happened in 2013 when, in a single attack, China stole two dozen major weapons systems from the United States. The next year, National Security Agency (nsa) Director Mike Rogers said China and one or two other countries could invade and shut down U.S. utilities, aviation and financial networks. That same year, Chinese hackers penetrated U.S. Transportation Command contractors 20 times, and the Chinese military flaunted its new J-31 stealth fighter jet—made from technology it stole out of American servers. In 2015, China hacked as many as 18 million current and former government employees’ personal information. Mike McConnell, former director of the nsa, said, “The Chinese have penetrated every major corporation of any consequence in the United States and have taken information” (March 12, 2015). These hacks included the U.S. Congress, the Department of Defense and the State Department.
Space warfare is another way China is trying to level the playing field. On January 11, 2007, China took the space race to a new level. By shooting a warhead from a ballistic missile into space, destroying an old Chinese weather satellite, China exploded more than a satellite. It exploded the myth that China’s space program does not threaten America. Christopher Bodeen, writing for the Associated Press, observed, “The test is a shot across the bow of U.S. efforts to remain predominant in space and on the ground, where its military is heavily dependent on networks of satellites …. [A]ny potential conflicts in space would put much of the industrialized world’s economies at risk …” (Jan. 23, 2007). China blew up another satellite in 2010. High-tech militaries like America’s and the EU’s are heavily dependent upon satellites. Dr. Ashley Tellis, an expert on China at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, stated that China’s space program is aimed at America’s “soft ribs” in space, and that China could carry out a “space Pearl Harbor.”
A Terrifying Reality
Watch. The rise of the Chinese juggernaut graphically presages a developing—and terrifying—reality: More and more, the nations reaping the richest rewards in this rapidly developing resource war will be the more assertive, enterprising nations—the more rapacious nations.
They will also be the more autocratic nations—those governed by tough, politically empowered leaders; those least encumbered by political correctness and bureaucracy. These are the nations that will strike aggressively, ruthlessly to stake their claims and defend them.
This trend portends more than just a world dominated by more aggressive nations. As soon as you have more than one power acting this way, you have all the makings for intensifying competition—and ultimately, out-and-out war.
Now, align these trends with biblical prophecy. Read Revelation 17 and 18. There you see a detailed, horrifying picture of an emergent empire of unprecedented rapacity. In order to fuel its furnaces and drive its imperialist machinery, it will conquer nations, establishing colonies and protectorates the world over and raping them of their resources. In its opulence it will seduce and deal with the globe’s wealthiest corporate moguls, riding their backs and enriching itself at the expense of the rest of the world.
Those biblical prophecies speak of our day today—this time of America’s decline, of China’s rise, of global economic instability and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are about to see the sudden, violent surfacing of this superpower.
But this empire will not be China and Russia! It will not be Asian at all.
In fact, in light of biblical prophecy, we must view Russia’s and China’s rise as a likely trigger for this empire to rise up and strike!
This passage in Revelation—along with dozens of others that provide more vivid details—is speaking of an emerging European empire, a resurrection, in fact, of the Holy Roman Empire! You can be sure it is watching intently what China and Russia are doing today and, behind closed doors, plotting its retaliation. It simply will not be left behind in the coming resource war.
You need to understand these prophecies—their fulfillment is going to rock the world off its axis. Request free copies of Herbert W. Armstrong’s masterful booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? and our book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy for a riveting study of this vital subject.
The rise and cooperation of Russia and China that we are witnessing is prophecy being fulfilled! For not only is it certain to provoke Europe to assume a far more combative posture in securing its much-needed resources, but these Asian nations have a significant role to play in the events prophesied to unfold shortly. Keep your eye on China. Within a few short years, this nation—the ascendant, proud China that has emerged today—will dazzle the world. Watching its vault into great-power status truly is a look at the future.