Mens Kina stadig er krenket over fjorårets fredspris-tildeling, er det tegn som tyder på at spådommen om «Kinas gylne tidsalder» trenger justeringer. Joel Kotkin peker på noen av mekanismene bak en mulig utflatning:
Throughout modern history authoritarian and more centrally controlled countries have proved very good at playing «catch up» and impressing journalists. China’s Communist regime can order investment into everything from high-speed trains to green technology and massive dam construction. The results — like those previously seen in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia — are often as physically and technologically impressive, although often cruel to both the environment and people stuck in the way. But once a country reaches a certain plateau of development, as Japan did in the 1990s, the nature of the competition changes; it becomes harder to target industries that are themselves in constant flux. Workers who have already achieved considerable affluence tend to be harder to bully or motivate.
(Bildet viser to flåtestakere i det sydlige Kina og er tatt under en reise i 2006)