Have you been wondering what country will challenge the globe's current one-superpower structure? Meet China.
A superpower must have enough economic and military clout to get other countries to align with them. While China's economy is relatively small per-capita compared with western nations, it is growing, and they seem to be doing a better job than the old Soviet Union of mixing socialism (which is an economic wet blanket, to say the least) with capitalism. While both China and the former USSR are/were socialist states, they had very different economic structures starting in the late 1970s. The Soviet Union was very similar to North Korea in that a tremendous percentage of their resources went into the military while their economy at home was always teetering on the edge of disaster. Their manufacturing was shoddy, even for their military equipment, and their collective farms were terrible. (They were really good at espionage, however, and extremely successful in stealing information from the West.) China, on the other hand, shouldn't suffer from manufacturing problems, as that is an area of expertise for them. This excerpt from the CIA World Factbook entry for China paints a picture of their economic progress:
In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, inefficient, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978.As they grow economically they are plowing resources into their military as well. China's military has historically been long on manpower but short on technology--in WW2 the much smaller Japan had their way with China. But obviously they are trying to change all of that now.
As a growing power both economically and militarily, China is embarking on the next step toward superpower status. It appears that they are trying to cultivate satellite states among the bad actors and despotic regimes of (resource-rich) Africa.
FoxNews: China, Africa Dictator Links Ring Alarms
If they get their gear together, with a population of 1.3 billion (US: 0.3 billion), they might make quite a powerful superpower.