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No, The World Is Not Destined to Live Under PRC Rule

The rise of China’s military, economic and technological power deserves serious study. There are threats that need to inform decisions by government and business leaders. These threats include the most powerful cyber espionage operation on the planet, as well as extensive human and technical intelligence operations, much of which is used to inappropriately rob from open societies to the benefit of the Chinese economy. China’s intentions are clearly to continue to grow their power. Xi Jinping has stated repeatedly that the rise of China is destiny, and he expects that China’s economy will become the largest in the world in his lifetime.

How is China doing economically? Look at the graphic below from


This fantastic graphic makes it visually clear that China’s economy is large. But for me it caused other questions. Is it really helpful in an interconnected world to visualize this by region? Are there other ways to show the data that might better inform our decisions? One thing that jumped out at me was that most of the large economies, the US, Germany, Japan, India, UK, France, are open societies.

Wondering if data existed on the size of economies by governance style I started searching and found none. So I built a spreadsheet that captures GDP data on every country, and used data from a study called the Democracy Index (an index compiled by the Economist Group) to inform my judgement as I binned countries into one of two categories, either democratic governance or authoritarian governance. Then I added up the GDP for every country in each of those categories.

The result:

Even with the rise of the totalitarian PRC economy, it is open societies that still run the world.

72% of the world’s GDP is due to nations with democratic governance systems. Authoritarian style governance accounts for only 28% of global GDP.

This is based on 2021 data from the IMF. We can assume due to the weakening of China’s economy and the strength of democratic societies even in the face of Covid that this has already shifted more in the favor of open societies.

GDP is just an economic measure. Of course we know open societies are better for people and we don’t need GDP to tell us that. But still this graphic underscores that just because Xi Jinping says they will rule the world’s economy does not mean that is our collective destiny. In fact, if democracies can cooperate more closely and take better collective action the threats to our way of life may decline.

For more reading:

See our reporting on China and other geopolitical issues in the OODA C-Suite Report. For more on geopolitical risk and mitigations see the OODA Global Risk and Geopolitical Sensemaking page.

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Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of OODA LLC, the technology research and advisory firm with a focus on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity which publishes and Bob is the author of the book The Cyber Threat. Bob has been an advisor to dozens of successful high tech startups and has conducted enterprise cybersecurity assessments for businesses in multiple sectors of the economy. He was a career Naval Intelligence Officer and is the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency.