Produced for broadcast by WNYC, New York.
In the past 30 years, China has changed from a state-controlled economy to an economic colossus, and the effects of its boom are being felt in the world's biggest economy — the United States.
China's prosperity has benefited the United States: The country is the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports, and China's imports provide about $1,000 in increased purchasing power for the average American family.
Yet, as China's economy is growing, so is its trade deficit with the United States: a record $232 billion in 2006. China is gobbling up natural resources — and belching pollutants into the air and water — and its hunger for raw materials has drawn it closer to countries at odds with the U.S., like Iran. Its military buildup culminated recently with the destruction of an orbiting satellite; high-tech satellite communications are a key component of the U.S. military.
So, does China's economic boom spell trouble for the United States? That question was posed recently to a panel of experts in an Oxford-style debate, part of the Intelligence Squared U.S. series. The debates are modeled on a program begun in London in 2002: Three experts argue in favor of the proposition and three argue against.
In the latest debate, held on May 16, the formal proposition was Beware the Dragon: A Booming China Spells Trouble for America. The debate was held at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City and was moderated by James Harding, the business and city editor of The Times of London, who previously worked for the Financial Times and opened its Shanghai bureau.
In a vote before the debate, 41 percent of the audience supported the proposition and 37 percent opposed it, while 21 percent said they were undecided. After the debate, the audience voted 35 percent in support, 58.6 percent against and 6.1 percent undecided.
Highlights from the debate: