The most commonly debated ideas between the two:
Pointing out the obvious, China's 1.34 billion population far
outsizes the 314 million people in the United States (US). However,
in terms of total geographical area, China and the US are on par at
around 9,700,000 km2. As a result, China has a population density
more than 4 times that of the US.
The US has a much higher human development index (HDI), which it
ranks 4th compared to China which ranks 101st. However, prevalence
of HIV/AIDS and obesity among adults in the US is 6 times and 12
times more than of that in China respectively. The average life
expectancy in China stands at 74.8 years, slightly lower than 78.4
years in the US, which can be attributed to higher incomes and
better healthcare in the US.
The US is one of the world's most ethnically-diverse and
multicultural nations due to large-scale immigration from countries
all over the world. Migration rates in the US stand at 3.62/1000
people, in stark contrast to China's which is -0.33/1000 people.
And even though China has a lower urbanization percentage at 51.3%
as compared to 82.0% in the US, it has a higher urbanization rate
of 2.3% to 1.2% of the US'.
China's literacy rate of 95.9% is also sightly lower than the
US' 99.0%. In the 2009 international PISA test taken by
15-years-old students, Chinese students have shocked the world by
topping the scores in all reading, math and science subjects, while
the Americans ranked in the middle range, a position they have held
for a long time. This can be attributed to the hardworking
attitudes of the Chinese.
Due to the one-child policy that has been implemented in China
since 1970 to prevent its population from exerting huge strains on
the country's limited resources, the population growth rate in
China is at a shockingly low figure of 0.481% as compared to 0.899%
in the US. A social mindset which favours males over females has
also resulted in an imbalanced sex ratio of 1.17 males for every
female under the age of 15 in China as compared to 1.05 males per
female in the US. Forced abortions of female foetuses occur
comparatively frequently, especially in rural areas of China where
people still hold on to outdated thinkings like favouritism for
Even though China's main political party is called 'The
Communist Party of China (CPC)', China's model is one of socialism
with Chinese characteristics, and has embraced capitalism
fervently. This has no doubt caused much misconceptions about the
Chinese social and political model, with many retaining the
thinking that China is communist or even a dictatorship.
The CPC is the world's largest political party comprising of
approximately 80 million members nationwide. Leaders are replaced
and the cabinet is reshuffled once in a decade, with the President
and Premier and other members of the Politburo Standing Committee
being elected internally by top party members instead of the
China has vowed to bring about political reforms, but stated
that its priority is currently economic reforms. Small democratic
experiments have been made at the local level, with elections for
the village committee members being held. One notable example would
be the southern Chinese fishing village of Wukan in Guangdong
Province. The CPC has also dedicated Shenzhen, a miracle of
economic reform, as the first mainland city to hold democratic
elections in a bid for political reform.
On the other hand, the US is one of the world's most democratic
nations, with the two main political parties being the Republican
and the Democratic Parties. The President of the United States is
being elected by the people every term, which lasts four years.
This model of governance is being exported and encouraged in other
developing nations, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring. This
sometimes-intrusive replication of the democratic model without
regard for local historical and cultural contexts results in many
conflicts between locals and Americans, which partly explains the
hostile sentiments of muslims in the Middle Eastern states towards
By manpower and active personnel, China far outranks the United
States. In reference to technology and military advancement, the
United States currently places ahead, although China is making a
The United States is far more superior when concerning nuclear
weapons and has a much higher budget for military. China is raising
its military expenditure year-on-year in a bid to catch up with the
US' superiority in military technology.
The result of war pitched between these two superpowers remains
inconclusive, though many agree that both could completely wipe out
every other country on Earth with a snap of their fingers due to
their huge nuclear arsenal. In this, they are usually considered to
From the fall of the Qing Dynasty to the Mao era, China
underwent a series of industrial revolutions in an attempt to catch
up with western powers. However, there were many obstacles and
failed policies that did not result in the emergence of a strong
economy during that time, for example, the Japanese invasion during
World War II and Mao Zedong's 'Great Leap Forward'.
After the Mao era, Deng Xiaoping, Mao's successor, initiated a
series of economic reforms in the 1980s, introducing a free market
system and abolishing government control on the matter. This vastly
improved the standards of living in China.
In the US, economic freedom had always been in place, allowing
it to prosper and advance dramatically. In comparison to China, the
United States only had one industrial revolution. However, it was
enough to push it to a superpower level next to Great Britain in
The gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, both
total and per capita, remains substantially higher than China's.
However, the labor force, growth rate, and rate of unemployment in
China is significantly better than in the United States.
The United States also has a substantially higher national debt
than China. Its federal reserves of gold are also lower than China
and it tends to import more than it exports, resulting in an
unfavorable trade balance. In contrast, China exports more than it
imports, has little national debt, and has lower government
expenditures. However, the United States outranks China in all
energy resource productions.
China also holds the world's largest foreign-exchange reserves,
standing at US$3.24 trillion as of Jun 2012. This is in stark
contrast to the US' US$150 billion.
On the individual level, the US far outstrips China in terms of
the number of High Net Worth Individuals (HWNIs). The US has 412
billionaires and 3,068,000 millionaires while China has only 95
billionaires and 562,000 millionaires in 2011. However, due to
macroeconomic effects of both countries, the growth rate of number
of HWNIs in China races ahead, with a 5.0% growth from 2010 to
2011, while the US suffered a decline in number of HWNIs during the
The United States has a much higher GDP per capita as compared
to China. Due to the fact that the US has less than 25% of China's
population and a little less than 3 times of China's GDP, the US
has a GDP per capita of more than 10 times that of China. As such,
for China to overtake the US in terms of GDP per capita, it would
have to raise its GDP to more than 4 times that of the US. As a
result, it would most likely experience an unusual phenomenon: It
will exist as both a developed and developing country at the same
time, based on total GDP and GDP per capita respectively.
There are various discussions on the environmental impacts due
to industrialization. In 2007, China overtook the US to become the
world's largest emitter of all greenhouse gases, also in top place
for emissions of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, CFCs and other
ozone depleting substances. China has also overtaken the US to
become the world's largest oil consumer in 2010. According to the
World Bank, China is home to 20 of the 30 most polluted cities in
the world, due to unhealthily large amounts of emissions by
factories, motor vehicles and coal mining, with the most polluted
city, Linfen, located in China. Loose environmental laws and
regulations are also to blame.
However, China has been investing heavily in green technology.
In 2010, China overtook the US in terms of green investment. Its
green investment expands in all fields. It currently has the Three
Gorges Dam, the world's largest dam in terms of energy production,
and Dabancheng Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in Asia. It is
planning the world's largest solar farm in Qinghai, made
significant improvements in green vehicles and came up with tight
transport regulations such as the one on car usage in Beijing.
It must also be noted that China has a population of more than 4
times that of the US, so in terms of emissions per capita, such as
carbon dioxide, the US, although not top in the world, is about 4
times that of China's. Moreover, China, dubbed the factory of the
world, houses factories from all around the world. This means that
emissions are exported to China from developed countries in the
form of factories, and it is reported to make up about 40% of all