China’s Belt and Road Has That Soviet Feeling: Weekend Edition

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- “What causes empires to fall?

“According to one influential view, it’s ultimately a question of investment. Great powers are the nations that best harness their economic potential to build up military strength. When they become overextended, the splurge of spending to sustain a strategic edge leaves more productive parts of the economy starved of capital, leading to inevitable decline.

“That should be a worrying prospect for China, a would-be great power whose current phase of growth is associated with an increasingly aggressive military posture and a tsunami of capital spending in its strategic neighborhood.

“Like the Soviet Union in the 1970s, China is coming to the end of a long labor-force boom, and hoping that an orgy of investment will keep the old magic going while stabilizing its fraying frontiers. The success or failure of its Belt and Road projects – and the still greater sums it’s spending domestically – will determine whether the nation achieves its dream of prosperity or succumbs to the same forces that doomed the U.S.S.R.”

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This is the Weekend Edition of Bloomberg Opinion Today, a roundup of the ten most popular stories Bloomberg Opinion published this week, based on web readership, with some other stuff thrown in. New subscribers to the newsletter can sign up here

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

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