David Kline Op-Ed: Fear American Complacency, Not China

The last time I visited China, I had tea with Deng Xiaoping. It was 1978, and the Chinese leader outlined for me a plan to modernize his country by unleashing its enormous entrepreneurial energies. At the time, I thought his approach seemed pie-in-the-sky.

But today, having just returned from my first visit to China in 40 years, I’m a believer. Back when I met Deng, the number of private automobiles in all of China could be counted in the thousands. Today there are about 200 million. Since 1978, China’s economy has grown more than 5,000%, and the disposable income of its citizens has skyrocketed. By 2030, China could surpass the U.S. to become the biggest economy in the world.

The size of China’s economy, though, isn’t what should worry President Trump. It’s China’s entrepreneurial dynamism—its intense drive for innovation—that poses the greatest threat to America’s economic leadership. No longer a nation of “copycat” industries, China today leads the U.S. in a number of vital sectors, including mobile payments, advanced microchips and artificial intelligence.

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