Peter Zeihan, whom we’ve met in these pages on several occasions, is a geopolitical and demographic analyst who has controversial but well-supported views on the current and future state of the world.
Earlier this month Mr. Zeihan gave a two-and-a-half-hour presentation at the Naval Postgraduate School titled “Energy at the End of the World“. The whole thing is very interesting, and I highly recommend that you watch it if you can make the time. Be warned, however: it’s packed with solid information, and will require careful attention and analysis if you want to get the most out of it.
Here’s a twelve-minute segment from that presentation, dealing with the situation in China. Mr. Zeihan makes several radical and controversial proposals, including (but not limited to) the following:
- “I don’t see how China survives as a single political entity, much less a globally significant one. I don’t see how it survives this decade with these numbers, because this suggests that the Chinese population peaked back in 2003, and that Chinese economic efficiency probably peaked around the same time.”
- “There is not an industrial process that is done in China that can’t be done in North America at a lower cost, because our labor is so much more productive, our energy is so much cheaper, our supply lines are so much shorter and you can produce stuff where people actually live.”
- “Russia has many flaws, but they’re a massive producer of food and energy products. If you put the sanctions that we have put against Russia onto China, oh my. China imports 85% of their energy, 85% of that from the Persian Gulf, and they import 85% of inputs that are necessary to grow their food. So you would have an industrial collapse, a civilizational breakdown, and mass famine within six months, and then you would probably lose a half a billion Chinese over the course of the next year to famine.”
I’m not entirely in agreement with Mr. Zeihan on this, even though I cheerfully acknowledge that his command of the data, facts and figures on this subject is vastly superior to mine. I think he discounts the human element in favor of the statistical evidence. I’ve seen (too often for comfort) how an individual or group can be so determined to accomplish something, even though the odds are against them and it might actually be deleterious to their situation, that they do it anyway, regardless of the facts on the ground. I suspect that’s what’s driving the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and will probably drive Chinese actions concerning Taiwan. As for China’s future, there are a whole lot of different factors intertwining right now. Which will emerge as dominant? I don’t know that anyone can say for sure as of right now.
Suffice it to say that the short video above is intensely interesting, and worth watching. I hope it whets your appetite to make time for the whole two-and-a-half-hour presentation linked above. Highly recommended viewing.