A bearing factory in Luoyang, Henan province. (File photo/Xinhua)
Various forecasts about China surpassing the United States to become the world's largest economy have been made, but several factors will hinder such a development, unless the Chinese authorities pull out all the stops to make this their goal.
A recent report released by the US National Intelligence Council on possible global trends in 2030 predicted that China's GDP will exceed that of the US by 2030 and that the size of Asia's economy will be larger than the combined scale of North America and Europe by that year.
However, questions remain about whether China, the leading economy among emerging countries and in Asia, can delink its growth from the US and Europe during the next 18 years.
China achieved rapid economic growth on the basis of cheap labor and lower manufacturing costs, but rising costs and diminishing demand in Western markets in recent years has impeded the pace of its GDP growth to below 8%.
If China fails to shift to an economic model of generating growth through domestic consumption and innovation, the country will face serious challenges in sustaining its economic development and may even fall into the middle income trap, cautioned the World Bank in an earlier report.
China will also have to deal with growing internal conflicts caused by its rapid economic development, especially the increasing disparity between the poor and the rich, rural and urban areas, and the country's eastern and western regions, by introducing major political and social reforms.
Additionally, China will also need to address the impact that its unexpected and quick emergence in the world has had on neighboring countries and the US, who became wary about its influence.
The country should also take note of the experience of Japan, whose economic growth peaked in the 1980s but has drifted since then.
With the US forging closer political and security ties with Japan and Southeast Asian countries, the internationalization of the Chinese economy is bound to be affected.
Therefore, Beijing needs to ensure that its current 12th five-year plan is fully implemented in order to realize the goals of its economic transformation. The government should also modify its foreign policies that currently place too much emphasis on its political and economic influence and should work closely with the US on international affairs instead.
Whether China will become the world's top economy and shift the center of global power from the West to Asia will hinge upon Beijing's determination to address these crucial matters.