There’s an absolutely awesome post by Eric Fish on Sinostand about how China might take the world to the next level, or destroy it. If you’re interested in technology (particularly future tech / sci-fi) it’s an enjoyable read.
Eric’s article is very hypothetical and looks at how China is reaching a position where it would be likely to develop technologies such as weather control / climate alteration, orbital solar panels and space elevators. All of these things have been predicted by science-fiction, but are now only slightly out of our grasp.
China’s energy demands are increasing very rapidly, and the giant consumer is going to have to find better sources of energy sooner or later. The ultimate energy source is of course the sun, and if China has both the necessity and resources to develop the means to harness it, they will.
The country has already shown its willingness and capability to do things on a huge scale. This is made possible by an ocean of science and engineering graduates, a powerful centralised government and an abundance of cheap labour. The CCP can decide it wants to do something, get it designed and get it built.
Eric points out that all this would be a significant step closer to Type I on the Kardashev scale. That’s also supposed to include some sort of unified global government, though, which looks completely impossible with today’s national governments, particularly the CCP.
The most likely outcome in my view is that China will indeed develop this kind of technology, but it will be similar to the development of many technologies by Western countries in the last two centuries. The inventing nation benefits first and benefits most, and the technology slowly spreads out to benefit other nations. The net effect is still positive.
So we could be entering an era where China has dibs on all the best resources and opportunities. However, it also seems very likely that media and information technology will be crucial to development from now on. These kinds of technologies don’t need vast scale and resources to develop successfully; they’re open to most of the world.
It’s going to be interesting in any case.