It's probably just a matter of time before China becomes the largest economy in the world. When it does claim the top spot, what sort of dragon will it be? Will China be a benign hegemon?
The Economist pontificates:
If China does usurp America, what kind of hegemon will it be? Some argue that it will be a “premature” superpower. Because it will be big before it is rich, it will dwell on its domestic needs to the neglect of its global duties. If so, the world may resemble the headless global economy of the inter-war years, when Britain was unable, and America unwilling, to lead. But Mr Subramanian prefers to describe China as a precocious superpower. It will not be among the richest economies, but it will not be poor either. Its standard of living will be about half America’s in 2030, and a little higher than the European Union’s today.
With luck China will combine its precocity in economic development with a plodding conservatism in economic diplomacy. It should remain committed to preserving an open world economy. Indeed, its commitment may run deeper than America’s, because its ratio of trade to GDP is far higher.