Ymarsakar, whom you know from the many interesting comments left on my blog, tipped me off to a post that looks ahead to the world in 2030, and tries to predict whether the U.S. will still be the world's superpower, or whether another country (which is, for purposes of the analysis, China) will have overtaken the U.S. The post's author, identified only as "The Futurist" concludes that China, despite its human and natural resources, will not be able to overtake America. He also makes a pretty compelling analysis to support this conclusion. For example:
To match the US by 2030, China would have to :
1) Have an economy near the size of the US economy. If the US grows by 3.5% a year for the next 25 years, it will be $30 trillion in 2006 dollars by then. Note that this is a modest assumption for the US, given the accelerating nature of economic growth, but also note that world GDP only grows about 4% a year, and this might at most be 5% a year by 2030. China would have to grow at 12% a year for the next 25 years straight to achieve the same size, which is already faster than its current 9-10% rate, if even that can be sustained for so long. In other words, the progress that the US economy would make from 1945 to 2030 (85 years) would have to be achieved by China in just the 25 years from 2005 to 2030. Even then, this is just the total GDP, not per capita GDP, which would still be merely a fourth of America's.
The other seven points make for interesting reading and I recommend the post to you.