Is the American president still the most powerful man on earth? â€“ Telegraph Blogs Itâ€™s a commonplace of journalism to say that the President of the USA is â€œthe most powerful man in the worldâ€. Thus it was, before Obamaâ€™s State of the Union speech this week: pundits dutifully trotted out the phrase "the most powerful man on earth" as the dashingly besuited Mr Obama strode to his Washington lectern. The only problem is that itâ€™s now somewhat doubtful whether Obama is The Most Potent Hombre On The Planet. A rival and reasonable case can be made for the President of China, whose name I bet many of you donâ€™t even know (and I confess I am not entirely sure either: I just had to Google it for good measure â€“ itâ€™s Xi Jinping). I can hear the protests of Atlanticist readers already. America might be in relative decline but America still has the biggest GDP, the most advanced technology, the finest universities, and, of course, by far the worldâ€™s most impressive and expensive military. Right? Right. All this is totally true. America is a great and marvelous nation, and it is not going anywhere. But hereâ€™s a game you can play. Simply type, into your nearest search engine, variants of the phrase â€œChina overtakesâ€. Then see what pops up. I did that half an hour ago, and here are some of the stories I unearthed. China has, this week, overtaken France and Italy to become the planetâ€™s largest consumer of red wine. China has recently become the world's largest market for BMW cars. China has just supplanted the USA as the world's biggest trader with Brazil. China now produces more â€œclean energyâ€ than any other nation. And so it goes on. China is now the planetâ€™s biggest importer of oil. China is the globeâ€™s greatest consumer of gold. China recently overtook Korea to become the world's biggest shipbuilder. The Chinese now file more patents than any other country on the planet. Similarly, China is the worldâ€™s biggest market for PCs. China is also of course, the biggest producer of PCs, making a mindblowing 90pc of the global total. China also manufactures, or produces: 80pc of the worldâ€™s air conditioners, 50pc of the worldâ€™s pork, 74pc of the worldâ€™s solar cells, 70pc of the worldâ€™s mobile phones, 60pc of the worldâ€™s cement, 48pc of the worldâ€™s coal, and 63pc of the worldâ€™s shoes. Yes, shoes. All the above is largely related to the fact that, a few weeks ago, China became the world's biggest trading nation, displacing America from the number one position it has held for many decades. And this, I believe, is what makes Chinaâ€™s President Xi Jinping potentially a more powerful man than Barack Obama. Yes, America has the Big Stick: Americaâ€™s military dwarfs that of anyone else. But what benefit has that vast defense spending brought America this last decade? The Americans couldnâ€™t win in Iraq, or Aghanistan, despite the blood and treasure expended; and the fact America could nuke China ten times over is little solace, given that China could do the same to America at least twice over, and so everyone would end up dead anyway. At the same time, China is trading more with foreign countries than America, and this is the true source of geopolitical power. Someone who buys more of your stuff, and sells you more of their stuff, is more important to you and your livelihood, and is a more powerful influence on your existence, than someone who could beat the crap out of you, but very probably wonâ€™t, especially after their last punch-up went so badly wrong. All of which means that Barack Obamaâ€™s claim to be â€œthe most powerful man on earthâ€ is increasingly untenable, and will be even less tenable for his successors in the White House, as Chinaâ€™s total GDP surpasses Americaâ€™s. The Washington Post reckons this enormity will happen in 2017; I think it will likely take 5-10 years more, as China suffers an inevitable slowdown in its ascent. But Chinaâ€™s biggest overtake will happen, eventually, barring global war or asteroid impact. How will we all react to this? I donâ€™t know. But it will be odd, and jarring, to hear the president of the USA described as â€œthe second most powerful man on earthâ€. Perhaps they should elect Ms Hillary Clinton, just so we can all avoid the cognitive discomfort.