Understanding Long Vax.
China's workforce peaked in 2011. Since then, China's labor pool has continued to shrink at an accelerating rate, and the total populations of the United States and its allies, which already total 70% of China's, are forecast to reach parity with China's around 2050. What's more, the population gap between the United States and China will likely shrink to a relatively small 400 million (from around 1.1 billion currently) by 2100. Though this timeframe is beyond the scope of immediate concerns, it speaks to the notion that time is no longer on China's side.
One way this shrinking population will affect China's strategic goals (beyond the economic implications discussed in previous parts of this series) is by lessening the conventional manpower available for the country's still untested armed forces. This development will put even more pressure on the country to develop its high-tech sector. China has already likely achieved technological superiority over the United States in certain areas, such as hypersonic missiles, but Beijing will have to make even greater technological gains in the military space to compensate for its waning populace.
This time crunch has also contributed to Chinese President Xi Jinping's distinct foreign policy choices, such as a slow strategic and rhetorical retreat beginning around 2014 from the longstanding "hide your strength, bide your time" mantra cultivated in the late 1970s. Under Xi, China has more actively pressed its territorial claims (Taiwan, the South China Sea and the East China Sea) and challenged perceived U.S. hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. While this policy shift partially reflects China's vastly improved military capacity, it is also due to China's closing window of opportunity — both in terms of population decline and the diminishing economic dividend. (Source: worldview.stratfor.com)
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